Arguably the most difficult part of seeing someone you love go through a period of depression is feeling like there's nothing you can do to help. While you may never fully understand what this person is going through, there are, in fact, some ways for you to help a loved one going through a tough time. When it comes to dating someone with a mental illness, Reddit user bodaveez has shared how he comforts his girlfriend through her spurts of anxiety and depression with the help of an affirmation jar.
Bodaveez, who's getting major boyfriend-of-the-year brownie points for this simple, yet incredibly romantic gesture, posted a photo of his affirmation jar to Reddit, explaining that, to show his girlfriend she has his support through her mental illness, he decorated a handful of popsicle sticks, color-coding them into four categories: quotes, reminders, ways to relax, and fill-in-the-blanks that allow her to record moments or things that bring her joy.
He explained in the comments,
For the yellow reminders I said things that were positive and were.. reminders. So for example I said things like 'you're beautiful' 'I love you' 'don't be afraid to ask for help.' The quotes were taken from some of my favorite authors that were based in inspiration and positive words. For accuracy and other quotes I just searched for inspirational quotes. The relaxation portions were things that I know she forgets to do like 'take a break' 'listen to your favorite song' and so on.
It just goes to show that the littlest things can make a huge impact.
Helping a loved one through their struggle with mental illness doesn't necessarily call for grand gestures or intricately planned interventions. More often than not, the most effective methods are the ones that come from the heart.
While traditional forms of therapy are always recommended for anyone struggling with mental health issues, this Reddit user's loving gesture toward his girlfriend shows that any of us can extend a helping hand to a loved one going through a difficult time. Sometimes it really can speak volumes when we simply reach through the fog and say, "I love you and I'm here for you," which is exactly what this boyfriend's jar of affirmation symbolizes.
Self-affirmations have been proven to help mental illness and combat negative thoughts.
I know a few people who have made and continue to keep up with affirmation jars, but if crafting isn't your thing, writing in a gratitude journal or simply repeating positive mantras quietly to yourself throughout the day can be equally as effective.
The idea of using self-love and positive words strung together to create lovely, inspirational phrases and reminders was first developed by French psychologist Emile Coue in the 1920s, but it wasn't until 2013 that the first real evidence of self-affirmations being a legitimate way to reduce stress surfaced.
According to a study published in PLOS ONE and performed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers, students who engaged in a self-affirmation activity at the beginning of a term were able to boost their academic performance, Psychology Today reports. To further test whether or not these self-affirmations had legitimate effects on mental health, researcher Lisa Legault of Clarkson University and her team conducted studies that assessed the relationship between self-affirmations and brain activity.
Legault told Psychology Today,
Practitioners who are interested in using self-affirmation as an intervention tactic in academic and social programming might be interested to know that the strategy produces measurable neurophysiological effects.
You don't have to be suffering from a mental illness to benefit from self-affirmations.
Personally, I think a big mistake many people make is that they view self-love solely as a recovery mechanism for mental illness and low self-esteem, rather than as something each of us deserves every moment of every day.
Self-affirmations, for example, are something everyone should -- and easily can -- practice. Being genuinely grateful for all of the good the universe has gifted you, and having pride in who you are as an individual can really shape and set the tone of your everyday life.
If you have any interest in trying this out for yourself, start by jotting down a list of positive adjectives and phrases that define you. From there, create a second list that reflects who and what in your life makes you feel happiest. You can even adopt bodaveez's idea and plant sticky notes scribbled with inspirational quotes all over your home to inspire you at any given time.
The more positive ideas and thoughts that surround you, the easier it will become to block out any unnecessary negativity the comes your way. Of course, if you're struggling with a mental illness, it's advised that you seek professional help to find the best course of therapy for you.
But self-affirmations — whether they are in the physical form of colorful popsicle sticks, lines in a gratitude journal, or quiet whispers when you get out of bed — can still go quite a long way.