Last Saturday, 10th October 2020, was World’s Mental Health Awareness Day. And I thought it is most fitting to write about this subject in my Blog this week.
Most people consider mental health issues as ‘taboo’ or something to avoid discussing like a plague. Why is this so? There is a stigma attached to mental health problems, and people feel uncomfortable about them and try to avoid talking about the topic if possible.
Mental Health can refer to our mind’s condition, and it embodies our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
The problem is, sometimes people forget that our mental health is as important as our physical health. If you feed your physical body with good food, you keep well and healthy. And if you fill your mind with good thoughts and a positive outlook, you stay well and healthy.
However, being mentally healthy does not necessarily mean that you don’t have a mental health problem.
Various studies show that no one is immune to having mental health issues. At some point in our lives, we all experience mental health issues such as feeling down and stressed, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, bipolar disorder, or the likes. Each person is susceptible to it, whether young or old, rich or poor, and whatever profession.
It affects each of us in various ways, and we react and deal with them in many different ways. Some of us recover from a setback, but others may feel weighed down by it for a very long time. The latter effect can become serious and that is when the person should consider getting some help.
By the way, I do not claim to be an expert on this subject, far from it. But I have some experiences, both as having suffered some types of mental health issues over the fifty years I have lived, and being at the receiving end of some people who have suffered from it.
I had many setbacks in life, and somehow I managed to bounce back from them. Opening up to some people close to me and talking about my feelings and situation helped a lot. One other thing that I did was to keep myself busy by studying my courses part-time. It helped me focus on something else whenever that naughty little voice crept in to mess my head.
In recent years, I got into a situation where I was at the receiving end of someone close to me who had serious mental health issues whereby I had to get some counseling. The person eventually accepted they had severe problems and got help themselves. Fortunately, both the counseling and support we had separately, prevented our relationship from collapse.
Although it is hard to accept we have mental health issues, it is crucial to recognise it and consider getting some outside support, especially if it lingers for a long time. A lack of recognition and understanding of the problem could lead to the destruction of relationships such as families and other close people.
It is easy to blame other people or find a scapegoat for how we feel during the stage when we are mentally unhealthy. Although the situation is not our fault, it is not fair for those affected by and suffers because of it. Hence, it is important to talk, for it is one way other people can understand us and provide support. Different ways that could help us are through meditation and mindfulness, and these require practice.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned from my counseling is NOT to take ownership of someone else’s mental health issues. I can give my utmost support by listening to them and helping them understand their problem and even encourage them to get outside support if needed, but I CANNOT change that person, nor can I be responsible for their actions.
I have to take care of myself, of my own mental health, first and foremost! It took me a while to practice this mindset as I first thought it was ‘selfish.’ But my Counselor had a valid point! Who else will take care of me but MYSELF?
On a broader scale, there was never a time that this subject had significantly impacted people’s lives worldwide, than NOW, during this dreadful COVID 19 Pandemic. So it is essential to protect and take good care of our mental health.
The Mental Health Foundation in the United Kingdom suggested 10 Tips on How To Look After Your Mental Health, as listed below.
I want to suggest a little activity on this one if you are up for it.
For each Tip, think and write down what you would do. Put your notes away after, no need to show anyone, and whenever you feel the need to, go back to it and read what you've written.
I will write my thoughts on here as an example.
1. TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
(I will talk to my loved ones and close friends about my feelings ie: when I'm down and stressed out)
2. KEEP ACTIVE
(I will keep doing outdoor activities such as gardening, walking or visiting different places)
3. EAT WELL
( I will eat One Full Meal at least once a day and drink plenty of water)
4. DRINK SENSIBLY
(I will drink alcohol only very occasionally)
5. KEEP IN TOUCH
(I will contact people close to me whom I have not spoken to nor heard from for a while)
6. ASK FOR HELP
(If I am too overwhelmed with stress and negative emotions, I will open up and ask for help from a family or a close friend)
7. TAKE BREAK
( I will endeavour to take short breaks and go somewhere for a change of scenery and environment)
8. DO SOMETHING YOU’RE GOOD AT
(I will keep writing my thoughts and working on my garden)
9. ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE
(I am who I am. I make mistakes, and sometimes I make bad decisions, but it is not the end of the world. I learn from them and try to move on)
10. CARE FOR OTHERS
(I will continue to get involved with family, work, and community)
(Caring for other people makes me feel good!)
This is it for now, until next Wednesday. Keep safe, and stay well!
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