This past Sunday, October 10, was World Mental Health Day. And if you know me, you know I’d take any opportunity I get to talk about mental health. In many instances, especially in this part of the world, we are quick to classify mental health and illness under some terrible, humiliating category that only happens to ‘mad people.’ That’s farthest from the truth. Mental illnesses and health aren’t always what you expect. (Not that there is any context in which we should even stigmatize it.) They can be triggered by genes as well as environmental factors. They can also be caused by mental fatigue which we pick up in our everyday lives. Some recent report I read the other day even suggested that anxiety appears more rapidly increasing in older teens and early to mid 20s. And people in their late 20s to 40s being the group to experience it the most. Omo! See ehn, as much as we take care of our physical bodies, we should not neglect the state of our minds because a healthy mind is paramount to a productive and successful life.
So, here’s some things we can do to keep mentally fit and help others around us to be in a healthy space.
Be kind. Don’t stigmatize
You may have it all together, or at least you think you do, but there would be someone around you that just doesn’t. It could be a colleague, neighbour, family member. Be considerate and kind to people because we don’t have the slightest idea what they may be dealing with.
Sometimes we want to do it all and we end up doing nothing at all, and experiencing a burnout. Trust me, physical and mental burnouts lead to a halt in whatever plans you have or had. I’ve learned that great planning and pacing yourself helps you to be productive and not just busy.
Asides pacing yourself, it is also good to take actual breaks. Step back and do nothing for a bit. Have a lazy day. A lazy couple of hours, whatever refreshes you. It doesn’t have to be a fancy vacation (those can be stressful too). It could be peaceful and quiet and a good book. Just some time to take care of yourself.
Talk to people
A problem shared…you know the rest. There’s so much freedom in being able to talk about how you feel with people who genuinely care about your well being. Don’t feel shy or ashamed. People go through things all the time and you’d be surprised at how much others can help just by getting them to lend you a listening ear. Prioritize meaningful relationships that add value to your lives and break free from toxic ones.
Talk to a therapist
No matter how much you trust your confidant or how much they care for you, a licensed therapist is still your best bet and will listen to you with no judgement and an unconditional positive regard. Your therapist wants what’s best for you and they have also amassed the skill, expertise, and experience to give you professional advice.
Practice emotional and physical self-care
Don’t neglect yourself. Sometimes we are taking care of everyone and everything else that we legit do not consider ourselves. Put yourself first in every way we possibly can. Take care of your health, eat as healthy as you can, try to get out of bed in the morning even if it’s hard. Play a sport you like or go see a movie you enjoy. Prioritize yourself.
As they say, hurt people hurt people, and healed people heal people. So as much as we can, let’s be aware of our mental states and those of others around us just like we are aware of our physical bodies. Your mental health is more important than money, career, events, toxic relationships etcetera. Be mindful of it, see someone if you need to, talk to people that care.