What a wonderful time it is to be alive. To bear witness as humans evolve towards becoming more complete individuals. As they lay down the weight of responsibilities on their shoulders, even for a second, to divert the attention inward. As we make efforts to hear what our mind & body are trying to communicate, our goals are not confined to material achievements, our worth not to our paychecks, and our existence, not to what others think of us.
We move the focus to how we truly feel, what truly matters. With each step getting closer to becoming a healed, better, well-rounded individual. Whether that is for our partners, our families, society, or most importantly, for ourselves.
Today, let’s talk about Mental Health. Let’s shed some light on what it is and why you need to pay attention to yours.
What is Mental Health?
According to WHO, mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her 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”.
While once considered rare due to sheer neglect and the stigma attached, in reality, mental health problems are not uncommon at all.
The most disturbing aspect to put things into perspective is mental health in our children and adolescents. At least 20% of them suffer from a mental illness. The leading cause of disabilities is depression. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among our 15-29-year-olds.
Mental health problems not only decapacitate one’s ability to live a decent life, but they also take life away altogether. Battles to mental health problems, if not lost to suicide, are lost in premature deaths. Severe mental illness can shorten one’s life by up to two decades.
While these figures can be upsetting, as they truly are, every cloud has a silver lining to look for.
As the stigma around mental health gradually subsides, resources are more available than ever. 24×7 helplines, therapy, and counselling, or even medical treatment are now more accessible. Help is around for those asking.
These numbers show a wider acceptance of the presence of mental illness and an initiative towards healing and better mental health. A sign that we can and are taking control of how we feel and giving our mind the care and attention it deserves.
4 Tips To Keep Your Mental Health In Check
Severe mental health problems need professional intervention in order to take you through your journey in a guided, protected, and safe manner. At the same time, incorporating some practices can help you cope with bouts of challenging mental health days. They are also a great supplement to therapy, counselling, medication, or any other treatment.
While these may be difficult to put into practice overnight, conscious effort and persistence can make things easier. They may not be immediate feel-good doses, but making these a part of your lifestyle can help you feel better in general.
1. Maintain A Healthy Sleeping Routine
We truly happen to give sleep less credit than is due. Sleeping not only helps our body and mind recharge but also regulates the chemicals in our brain. These include the chemicals responsible for transmitting information about our emotions and moods. They play a key role in how we feel the following day.
A severe lack of sleep or an overall poor sleep routine can make you feel more anxious or depressed.
If you’ve been having a string of sleepless nights, seek advice from experts like the Sleep Foundation. Adjusting some basics like your pillows, mattresses, sheets, and bedding arrangements can help a lot. Introducing some aromatherapy and music, regulating temperature, and minimizing phone use before bed can help you get better sleep.
There’s a plethora of guidance on the internet as to how to sleep better. When all else fails, reach out for professional help to create a sustainable and healthy sleep routine.
2. Be Conscious Of What You Consume
What you put inside your body has a massive impact on your mental health. Deficiencies of minerals like iron and Vitamin B12 or thiamine can adversely affect your mood and emotions.
Eating a balanced diet that nourishes your body and mind is an irreplaceable tool in maintaining your mental health. While it may get difficult to be on top of your diet when you are feeling low, do your best to make healthier choices.
Eating disorders, too, can be a symptom or result of mental health problems. Consult a professional if you feel your eating habits are severely impacted.
Consuming excessive doses of alcohol, coffee, or other caffeinated drinks and even excessive smoking can leave you feeling anxious and irritated. They can also lead to severe memory problems, motor problems, eye problems, and confusion.
If you are addicted to substances, know that it’s never too late to stop. You can seek help from organizations willing to help you live an addiction-free life. You can also download apps that allow you to track your habits and reward you for managing cravings.
3. Take Out Time To Indulge In Therapeutic Activities
Our unreasonably busy lifestyles laden with unhealthy amounts of stress leads to a vicious cycle of self-neglect. Not having space and time to relax can, over time, lead to burnout and long-lasting mental health problems.
It is essential to take time out to indulge in hobbies, therapeutic practices, or even just sit in silence. These allow you to feel lighter for a moment and have the optimal state of mind to handle the things you need to.
Taking a break does not have to mean expensive vacations that you don’t have the resources for. It could also be as simple as listening to music, painting, gardening, singing, watching the birds, or any other activity that brings you peace.
Going out for a walk every now and then can also help lead a healthier life and soak in some essential Vitamin D.
On days when you feel up to it, reaching out to friends and family or just being social can be therapeutic too.
4. Change Your Mindset
It’s sad how difficult it can sometimes be to put yourself first. Our surroundings have trained us to feel a certain kind of guilt in drawing strong boundaries, protecting ourselves, or just simply saying no.
Get yourself started on the journey of shedding this weight. Detach from feelings of guilt for looking after your own health and making choices for your sanity. Make your mental health a priority and actively seek ways to keep it at its best. If that means taking a day off, denying a party invitation, or not being able to help a friend with a project, so be it.
Your mental health is important. In fact, you wouldn’t be able to carry out any other responsibilities on priority if you don’t prioritize your own mental well-being.
Check-in on yourself and pursue measures to heal when needed. Whether that be reaching out to a friend for help or seeking professional intervention.
In conclusion, it’s good to know that your mental health problems are valid, and they need treatment just as much as any physical health issues would.
Mental health is a serious matter and needs dealing with in the same fashion. Don’t brush it off as a bad mood or phase. Create an environment of acceptance and safety in your social spaces. This will allow others who are struggling to cope better too.
After all, we are a species that have ensured survival through building communities. Replicating this through the centuries will only help us nurture a future generation and better humans with higher standards.