YOU AND YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
A lot of people shy away from the topic of mental health. To many, it means insanity and so they treat it as an anathema, a curse which once spoken about invokes it. Others are cynical about it. I have heard people say things like “Depression or anxiety is not real,” “Shake it off,” “You don’t need to see a shrink,” “You’re fine till you’re diagnosed and given a label,” “Medications that help you manage your mental health will make you sick” and so on. Therefore the hush-hush and stigma surrounding the topic of mental health disorders. It is sad to say that the issue is an elephant in the room.
What does mental health mean to you?
Mental health like physical health has to do with overall well-being, in this case, of emotions. Our emotions are psychological responses. They can go haywire or dive sinking low if we do not mentally take care of ourselves. Nobody would ignore a toothache or fever. Why ignore your mind?
It is no cliche that a healthy mind is a healthy body. The mind is the powerhouse, the lighthouse of the body. If it does not function well then it would be difficult to carry out normal day-to-day activities and manage relationships with others. If a mental illness is ignored, it can over time lead to suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Many people can remember the last time they treated malaria but cannot remember the last time they paused and evaluated their emotions and figured out why they feel the way they do or talk about a traumatic episode they have had, probably in their childhood, and how it’s affecting their life presently.
With the pressures of living in our day-to-day world, it will be difficult for a mentally unhealthy person to have a positive outlook on life or successfully cope with stress. Mental health breaks are underrated. The body needs rest when it is tired or stressed, so does the mind.
There are many ways to take care of your mental health.
- Talk about your feelings to someone who cares. It doesn’t make you weak. Don’t bottle everything inside you so you don’t burst like a balloon.
- Eat well. If you feed your body well, your mind will thank you. Hunger can be frustrating. A hungry man…
- Stay active. Ride a bike, take a walk, do something that makes you sweat and relieves your stress. It’s easy to sit in front of a computer or phone for hours and develop a sedentary lifestyle. A few minutes of stretching or even ditching the elevator for the stairs will not hurt you. Exercise apart from keeping you healthy has been known to boost concentration and make sleeping easier.
- Stay positive. This may seem difficult but try breathing patterns that help you stay calm in the midst of negativity. A lot of people have attested to the power of affirmations. Say good things to yourself every day and believe them.
- Help others. Volunteering and giving will distract you from yourself and your worries. Keep in touch with friends. Yes, you don’t have to wait for them to chat you up or call first. Try thinking of others.
- Do something you love. Painting, music, writing, anything. It doesn’t matter how well you do it but doing it will raise your self-esteem.
- Take a break. If everything gets overwhelming, it is ok to take a break and bounce back stronger.
All these tips are helpful but the most important is asking for professional help when it is needed. Some mental health issues cannot be overcome personally. Seeing a psychotherapist is always the best option. In my next post, I’ll be discussing some of these mental health issues.