This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m very passionate about mental health; I’ve been susceptible to it and it’s an area that I try and offer support on.
Our mental health influences how we think, feel, and behave in daily life. It also affects our ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.
This national campaign aims to shed the stigma surrounding this topic. My own personal contribution towards this campaign consists of sharing a bit about myself and by sharing some tips which I have found useful when it comes to improving my mental health.
Unsurprisingly, current levels of good mental health are disturbingly low. Great progress has been made in terms of the health of our bodies and life expectancy. However.. we now need to achieve the same for the good health of our minds.
Many people suffer with mental health illnesses in silence. The stigma that continues to surround mental-health problems prevents them from getting the help they need. Raising awareness of mental health issues and debunking the most common misconceptions could be instrumental in saving lives.
Mental health can move between poor and good on a daily basis. Things that can affect our mental health include relationships, financial concerns, work and even what day of the week it is. Just as our mind is unique, so is our mental health and what affects it.
I personally get anxious a lot. To some extent, it affects the quality of my lifestyle as it often gets mistaken for being ‘stuck up’ or being ‘too nice to talk to others’. In reality I just can’t bring myself to say anything because I’m overly anxious.
Bring around new people and too many people drains me out mentally. Social anxiety is an area I would like to work on, especially as I get older.
For this reason, I have compiled some tips which have so far beneftted me when it comes to looking after my own mental health
1. Talk about your feelings
Letting feelings ‘out’ by talking about them with a trusted friend or counselor strengthens you, both physically and emotionally. According to researchers, holding your feelings in might cause you to suffer anxiety, depression, headache, high blood pressure and more.
2. Keep active
Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem and can help you concentrate, sleep and look and feel better. I can attest that since i joined the gym last year, my mood has greatly improved. When you improve your physical health, you’ll automatically experience greater mental and emotional well-being. Physical activity also releases endorphins, powerful chemicals that lift your mood and provide added energy.
3. Eat well
We are what we eat – and not just in a superficial way. Our diet really does affect how we feel. The brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental health.
4. Drink sensibly
People often drink alcohol to change their moods. Some people drink to deal with fear or loneliness, but the effect is only temporary. Binge drinking can cause blackouts, memory loss and anxiety. Long-term drinking can result in permanent brain damage, serious mental health problems and alcohol dependence or alcoholism.
5. Keep in touch
Face to face social interaction with someone who cares about you is the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. There’s nothing better than catching up with a friend face to face, but that’s not always possible. You can also give them a call or drop them a text instead. Keep the lines of communication open; it’s good for you.
6. Ask for help
None of us are superhuman. If thing are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. Your family or friends may be able to offer practical help or a listening ear. If not, one can go to their local GP and be referred to a therapist
7. Take a break
A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. Give yourself some ‘me time’.
8. Do something you’re good at
For me, writing is therapeutic. What do you love doing? What activities can you lose yourself in? Enjoying yourself can help beat stress. Doing an activity you enjoy probably means you’re good at it, and achieving something can boost your self-esteem.
9. Accept who you are
We’re all different. It’s much healthier to accept that you’re unique than to wish you were more like someone else. Visit new places and make new friends. Good self-esteem helps you cope when life takes a difficult turn
10. Care for others
The meaning and purpose derived from helping others or the community enrich and expand your life – and make you happier. Just as we’re wired to be social, we’re also wired to give to others.
11. Don’t lose out on sleep
Getting enough sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. Skipping even a few hours here and there can take a toll on your mood, energy and mental sharpness.
With that said, no one really knows how many people with mental illnesses live what appear to be normal, successful lives, because such people are not in the habit of announcing themselves. – Everybody has a chapter they don’t read out loud.