There’s been an upsurge in campaigns and articles about people with mental health issues and I have one big problem with that.
It seems like we’re talking about ‘other’ people.
Let’s get real
If right now, anyone who has ever felt anxious, depressed, lost or desperate walked up to the nearest person and told them so, we’d get the real numbers of who is a ‘person with mental health issues’. I think it’s everyone.
Let’s compare physical with mental
- Some people need a walking stick, a wheelchair or medication.
- But – We ALL need to move, eat, breathe, avoid injury and give our bodies what they need. We are all aware of our physical health, pretty much all of the time.
We are all aware of our physical health.
Whether it’s noticing that you feel energetic or tired, or recognising a headache, we notice our physical health and (some of the time) do something about it.
- Some people have issues that are diagnosable and some need ongoing medication. It’s important to note that for some, the symptoms are severe and sometimes enduring.
- But – We ALL need to release stress, boost our resilience, stay calm, feel safe.
The difference is most folks are not as aware of our mental and emotional health on a daily basis as we are our physical health. We’re not so good at noticing what we might need to do to stay in some kind of balance. And something I hear often, is people either blaming themselves for their state of mind, or feeling that it’s written in the stars (or their genes) and they’re stuck with feeling anxious, depressed, out of control, scared, desperate, lost or just plain sad.
The big BUT
The big BUT is that mental and emotional health is a crucial issue for everyone!
I think we all fail to take our mental and emotional balance seriously enough most of the time and this leads to some of the physical and behavioural consequences that we end up focusing on.
For instance, if you don’t take note of how you feel after an aggressive conversation (the cause) and you don’t take action to release that adrenaline (physical impact), it may well lead to you feeling so out of sorts (mental and emotional inbalance) that you avoid something else you intended to do or make unhealthy choices about what you eat, drink or do later (consequences).
And too much stress for too long, starts to impact on your heart, liver and brain function as well as our choices and behaviour.
Don’t wait for the big signs!
Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we all (me included!) got better at recognising our mental health balance and more conscious of what we need to do to be in better balance.
And guess what? By doing that, we’re likely to reduce the amount of physical problems and unhelpful and unhealthy habits (the big signs) that are the consequences of our wonky mental and emotional health.
Stop doing this!
How often do you beat yourself up for eating junk or not exercising? How about focusing on getting yourself into a better mental balance so that you feel more motivated to make those choices?
How easy could it be?
There are some simple ways in which we can stay more balanced.
‘The hardest to learn is the least complicated’ The indigo Girls
As you read this list you might think
“there’s nothing new here”
“it’s not rocket science”
“she’s stating the bleeding obvious” or perhaps,
“these simple things won’t make much difference”
Please trust me, I see over and over, and experience it myself, that when we take our eyes off the small things, the big things start going wonky. Don’t feel you have to do everything (although that would be fab!), notice which one or two you are doing the least at the moment and aim to increase the frequency. Or choose the one or two that you know make most difference to you particularly.
- Eat well and nutritiously
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid or limit time with people or places that unsettle you
- Move, walk, dance, shake your body – emotions and trauma can get stuck there, shake it out
- Get outside, be with nature; trees, grass, flowers, water can all help re-balance you
- Be kind in your mind, listen like you would to a friend and reply with encouragement and support, you deserve it
- And when you’ve been too busy, criticised, overwhelmed, treated badly, stressed or rejected, take time to get what you need and release the negativity – it’s not yours. You deserve to feel calm and content with what you have and who you are (use this technique if this is a particular issue for you)
So, just to recap, let’s not ‘just’ talk about ‘People With Mental Health Issues’. Let’s recognise that we’re all on a continuum. No-one is 100% mentally and emotionally balanced all of the time, we’re in this together. And when we talk in terms of ‘us’ instead of ‘us and them’ we are better able to support each other and ourselves. No stigma, no separation, no pretending it doesn’t happen to us. Everybody Matters.
Take good care of you today, those little kindnesses, both physical and mental, could be just the tonic you need.