Hey Friend, why don’t you grab a drink, hot or cold, and come sit with me for a moment. Okay, are you comfortable? Good, let’s get started.
These words have been a long time coming, considering I’ve been ruminating on the words for a few months, and haven’t been able to get them down on paper (or a screen, in this case) in the right way. In the end, there isn’t a right way, and you’ve just got to say the words that are there from your heart, perfection doesn’t exist so, here we are.
Recently, mainstream media has been flooded with alerting people about the effects of mental illnesses/disorders, such as anxiety and depression – which can both possibly lead to suicide, if help is not given at the right time, in the right context and appropriately. I’m not qualified to give advice about mental illnesses/disorders, but I can inform you as much as I can and give you advice on looking after your own mental health, but ultimately – if you are struggling, please reach out to someone and get help. It is so so so important, your life is valuable and this world would not be the same without your beautiful soul here.
Before I get into this, I want to make aware of the difference between mental illness/disorder and mental health (as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-V)):
“A mental disorder is a syndrome characterised by clinically significant disturbance in an individual’s cognition, emotion regulation, or behaviour that reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress in social, occupational, or other important activities. An expectable or culturally approved response to a common stressor or loss, such as the death of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Socially deviant behaviour (e.g., political, religious, or sexual) and conflicts that are primarily between the individual and society are not mental disorders unless the deviance or conflict results from a dysfunction in the individual, as described above.”
So, now we’re aware of what is and isn’t a mental disorder/illness, we can now talk about mental health, which as defined by WHO (World Health Organisation) is:
“… a state of well-being in which the individual realises his, her or their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
It is important to note that WHO place an emphasis on the fact that mental health is not the absence of a mental disorder – we all have mental health, and it is just as important as our physical health, if not more.
I guess the point of these words is mainly to make people aware that mental illness/disorder and mental health are different things, and it’s important to take care of yourself mentally, in order to live your best life, and if not already dealing with a mental disorder, to prevent the possible development of one. I’ve gathered some self help tips that may help you in terms of your own mental health, and caring for yourself and those you love; because it’s important to look after yourself and your people. Your mental and emotional health matter, because they can affect your perception of reality, it’s so important for you to know that you are important. I know that these things can be hard to actually put into practice, and do, but they help and even if you do one a day or one a week, it could help with keeping you sane, and healthy – mentally and physically. So, progressing onward, here are some tips in (potentially) aiding your mental health: –
- routine – create structure in your life, it helps you and your brain. even if it’s little things like having breakfast everyday, or getting up at a specific time everyday – it helps massively. when things are already hard, the last thing you need is to be stressing about what’s next in your day, when everything else around you feels like chaos. create structure, create routine – it’ll give you peace of mind.
- talk / allow yourself to feel your emotions – feeling your emotions is important. I don’t mean to the extent that they control you, but rather so you can understand what’s going on internally in order for you to confront, deal/accept the situation you are in, and then acknowledge how you can go up from there. talking to someone helps with this, and if anything this is so important, mainly so you know that you are not alone and that there are people that care about you, immensely, no matter the season of life that you’re in or whatever it is you’re dealing with.
- write – I may be a little biased with this one, but as feeling your emotions is important, or talking about them; so is writing down how you are feeling. journalling is so therapeutic, it’s ridiculous how much it can help you! and maybe, when you get into a similar situation later on in life that you had already previously encountered, you can look back over what you wrote in the past, and help yourself from there.
- move – this means different things to everyone, so I’m not going to impose anything on you. but, we were created to move, and that’s primarily one of the reasons why we have the bodies that we have. movement is important because it helps our brain release neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that aid in increasing happiness, and making you feel able to get through stressful events in life. even if it’s moving twice a week, it does wonders for your mental health. your body deserves to be looked after.
- pick up a hobby – personally, reading helps me escape and giving myself time out in the week to just read helps me so much in giving myself a balance. your hobby could be anything from painting, to sports, to knitting, to yoga, to dancing, to writing. find a safe place for yourself, where it’s just you and lose yourself in that for a few moments in the day or week. it gives you the chance to breathe if life is a little bit hectic, or very hectic. you deserve to look after yourself, you deserve to put yourself first, too.
- take a breath – give yourself a day or few hours in the week where you don’t do anything. where it’s your ‘me’ time, and you have the time to check in with yourself and just be still for a while. to centre yourself or just not think at all, it’s okay to breathe, it’s okay to rest.
These are only a few ways to look after your mental health; and they may not seem like much, but sometimes adding simple, mundane things into our otherwise hectic lives, can make stressful moments easier to get through and deal with. You deserve to look after yourself, you are needed and by looking after yourself, you are also looking after those you love, too.
And, for those of you that are currently dealing with a mental illness/disorder, I want you to know that you are so loved, you have worth, you are valued and your life matters. I know things may be hard to deal with right now, and it may seem like there’s no way out, or people don’t care – but they really do. You don’t need to do anything or be anyone else to earn their praise, you can just be you, and by doing that, you are already so loved, and seen. Your life is important, you are important, please get help if you’re struggling, your voice matters, your health matters, and you have the right to be happy and healthy. It is the least you deserve.
mental health organisations/ helplines:
- CALM (for men)
- Papyrus (for under 35s)
- Childline (for under 19s)
- The Silver Line (for older people)
- The Mix (for under 25s)