So this post is something very important to me, and that over the years I’ve learnt and put into action to significantly help my mood, my health, my relationships and handling any other issues or situations that may arise.
Let’s talk about mental health.
I find it so baffling and frustrating that mental health has such a stigma attached to it, when in reality it’s just the same as physical health. There’s so many services and help guides out there to encourage us to improve our physical health; information on healthy diets, exercise programmes, how much water you should drink, how much sleep you should get, blah blah blah – the list goes on. This information is so readily available, so easy to talk about and is an accepted part of life. So why’s mental health any different? Why is counselling more frowned upon than going to the gym? Why is taking time to look after your mind any different to going on a diet to look after your body? If you ask me, mental health is far more important than most aspects of physical health… so why aren’t we talking about it?
Teenage years are pretty rough for most people; high school, hormones and no ‘how-to’ guide to help you through it all. Over time, I’ve learnt self-care tips, tricks and coping strategies for when life gets a little tough. With that, I’ve also learnt these practices shouldn’t just be a solution to problems, self-care strategies are best utilised along the way – as a preventative almost. Here’s a couple of my favourites:
- Turning away from toxicity.
- Friendships, relationships, even family members. If something is toxic to you, and shows no signs of resolving – cut it. Now I don’t mean cutting off your parents after an argument over TV remote, but it’s a case of knowing deep down when a person or a situation isn’t good for you and your health, and having the strength to walk away. This is where I feel the world selfish has unjust negative connotations – you absolutely HAVE to be selfish, and look out for yourself. Even when doing this, you can still care and look out for other people – but when it comes to you, you’re the only one who can really look out for yourself and do what’s genuinely best for you.
- Rest and recovery.
- Speaking from my own experience, burning the candle at both ends definitely takes it’s toll on your mental wellbeing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all fun and games partying most nights and being super sociable, but just because you’re still performing well at your job and not passed out in a ditch somewhere, doesn’t mean you’re ‘coping’. Life really is all about balance! Take some time for yourself – trying out a new hobby or a spa night for one (even if that consists of a hot bubble bath at home with some knock-off Yankee Candles). Knowing when to turn down invitations and spending time with yourself really is the key here.
- Learning to combat those negative thoughts before they even arise is one of the most amazing skills you can ever teach yourself. Identifying negative thoughts and feelings before they’ve had chance to wear you down is hugely important in looking after your mental health. Finding what coping strategies work best for you is essential, and it’s crucial to remember that whatever works for other people won’t necessarily work for you. Some people need some time to themselves, some need to be surrounded by loved ones – just learn what’s best for you, and act upon it.
- Be true to you.
- Being happy in general is significantly helped when you’re happy with yourself. Loving yourself as a person – your morals, your attitude, how you treat people – makes the ride a lot easier. Be kind, be thoughtful, be loving. Do what makes you happy, and don’t be apologetic for it. Being confident in yourself as a person makes it a lot easier to tackle the hard times when they come along. This also helps when other people act out in ways you can’t understand or explain – when you get to the stage of being happy with who you are as a person, you don’t doubt yourself or question your self worth when people act poorly towards you.
- Find the meaning.
- The feeling of being lost or not having meaning can really take it’s toll on your mental health. Whether that’s feeling like you don’t fit in, or you can’t find your passion, or you’re not sure how your future will end up – it’s the state of not feeling comfortable or content that is very unsettling. Try see this as a journey and something to explore – find your meaning. Try out new hobbies and activities. Read about different careers and hobbies. Travel. Find whatever it is that gets you going, and hold on to that. Envision yourself in 5, 10, or even 15 years time and picture where you want to be, and put your energy into making that happen. Everyone has different drives – some people want love, a family and familiarity. Some want to travel the world, have an amazing career, make a tonne of money. Whatever your vice is, follow that – and eventually you’ll find your place and your meaning, and end up where you’re supposed to be. That’s the whole point of this blog – I’m picturing myself as a high-flying career girl, living in bustling New York, doing what I love. That’s what really gets me going in the morning, and in myself I completely believe that will happen and that’s where I’m headed. I’m now in a place where I’m content with myself and ready to enjoy the ride and the journey to getting there. The power of positive thinking!
I’m sure everyone’s heard of ‘The Secret‘, the infamous self-help book to being happy and successful in life. While I have mixed feelings on it (it’s quite OTT and theatrical) and usually prefer a more direct straight talking approach, I appreciate the sentiments behind it. Cliff Notes version: You attract the energy you put out into the world. Your attitude, thoughts and beliefs that you’re exerting are what will gravitate back to you. What you vocalise – ‘I’m a strong person’ or ‘I will be successful’, is put ‘into the universe’ and, according to The Secret, these things will come true. I do agree with the basic message behind this, and it’s something I actively try to work on enforcing with myself. When you’re constantly moaning, or getting angry over minor things, or talking badly behind peoples backs, these go from just being occasional negative thoughts to you being a completely negative person. What I try to do is call myself out on things – when it comes to mindless bitching, just stop and think – do you really need to say it? Is it that important? And day-to-day scenarios – just because that person took your parking space doesn’t justify being irritable and frustrated all day long. Let things go that aren’t a big deal – exhale, be calm. If it doesn’t concern you, don’t let it even slightly affect your day, let alone ruin it. When you’re consciously being positive and not letting the little things get to you, it really does make life a lot easier.
I actually really enjoy putting these self-care strategies into action; just like you feel good after an invigorating workout, I feel so great for having a quieter week, being productive and looking after my mind. I believe looking after your mental health should go hand and hand with looking after your body, as both are crucial to your overall wellbeing.
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I hope that in time the stigma against mental health becomes a thing of the past. Reaching out for help, acknowledging when you’re having a hard time and not being afraid to openly discuss your struggles are all signs of strength, not weakness. And when people feel like they can be open about struggles and finding solutions without being judged, they won’t need to hide their issues, problems won’t escalate and we can (hopefully) avoid the vicious cycle of people being too scared to ask for help.
Thanks for reading,