When somebody mentions the word health, what springs to mind? As a society, we tend to focus most of our time and energy on physical health, but what about mental health? When was the last time you thought about how you feel? Mental health should be a subject in which we all take an interest. You shouldn’t have to have a psychological disorder to pay attention to your mental health. The truth is that we should all be concerned about our wellbeing. If you don’t give your mental health much thought, this guide should come in handy.
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The importance of mental health
Do you go to the gym or try and be as active as possible? Do you watch what you eat and try and ensure that you get enough sleep every night? Most of us make an effort to look after our bodies, but it’s much less common to go out of your way to take care of your mind. When you hear people talking about mental health, you may assume that this only applies to issues such as depression and anxiety, but this isn’t the case. Everybody should be aware of the importance of mental health. We all have a mind, we all have thoughts and feelings, and we can all do more to try and improve our mental wellbeing.
If you’ve never had days when you find it tough to get out of bed or you’ve never been in a situation where you’ve been crippled by anxiety when everyone else around you seems fine, you might not have given mental health much thought. Even if you are happy and content, you’re not immune to mental illness, and it’s always beneficial to try and take steps to reduce your risk of developing psychological disorders and to improve your mood. In the UK, it is estimated that 1 in 3 people will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives.
What are the signs and symptoms of mental illness?
Part of the problem facing a society that doesn’t like to indulge in open discussion about mental illness is being able to spot potential warning signs and symptoms. If we don’t talk about depression, stress, and anxiety, how can we expect people to understand what’s going on in their head? Everyone is different, and some people experience very different symptoms to others. There’s often a lot of confusion surrounding illnesses like depression, as it’s very poorly understood and it’s hard to express how it feels unless you’ve suffered yourself. It’s very easy for other people to view depression as a condition that can be shrugged off, but the reality is that it’s often a very severe illness. You would never tell somebody to shake off a broken leg, but it can be much tougher to understand mental illness because it doesn’t cause bruising, limping, or any other visible signs. Depression is not just feeling down or having a bad day. It’s going through periods of time when you question your worth, you struggle to control your emotions, and you find it difficult to summon up the energy or the motivation to see friends, get out of bed or leave the house.
Help for mental illness
If you are worried about mental health, you’ve been feeling out of sorts, or you’re concerned for a loved one, there is mental illness help out there. You may find that something as simple as having a chat with a family member or a close friend is enough to make you feel better, you may thrive on exercise or meditation, or you might need more intensive help from doctors, counsellors, and therapists. The first step is acknowledging that everything isn’t quite as it should be. Once you understand that you don’t have to fight these battles alone, you can start to move forward. Techniques like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy can help you to process things that have happened in the past and prepare for problems that may arise in the future. They can also help you to adjust your mindset and to gain confidence.
Many people also find it helpful to talk to others who have been through what they’re dealing with or people that are in the same boat. It’s hugely reassuring to know that you’re not on your own, and it is possible to get better. Charities can provide group support, and you can also link up with others through forums, events, and social media.
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Working on your wellbeing
Every single one of us should want to work on our wellbeing. You don’t have to suffer from anxiety or depression to give your mental health some TLC. You look after your body to prevent injuries and illnesses without giving it a second thought, so don’t hesitate to take care of your mental health too. Often, making very simple changes to your lifestyle and how you spend your time can pave the way for major improvements.
To boost your self-esteem, happiness, and confidence, spend time with people who make you feel good and form positive relationships. Make time for yourself, as well as being sociable, and set aside time for hobbies and interests. If being creative or playing sport makes you happy, find time in your schedule to do this. If you are struggling in any way, for example, if you’re stressed or you’re finding it impossible to sleep, think about the causes, try and find solutions, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. Triggers can range from a bad day at work to the loss of a loved one. Find activities that make you feel calm and relaxed and know when to take yourself off to a happy place. When things are getting on top of you or you feel low, give yourself a time out, take deep breaths, and calm down. Perhaps you find it comforting to call a friend, you need 5 minutes in the fresh air, or you find it helpful to meditate, stretch or write down what you’re feeling.
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There’s a lot of talk about mental health at the moment, but we still put a lot more effort into keeping our bodies healthy than we do our minds. If you haven’t given mental health much thought of late, hopefully, this guide has encouraged you to be more aware of mental illness and to take steps to boost your wellbeing.