World Mental Health Awareness Day - October 10th 2021
Fear, stress and worry are very familiar feelings to most of us – after all, life can be intense and these are reasonable responses to uncertainty and perceived, or real, threats. When the demands placed on a person exceed their resources and coping abilities, their mental health can be impacted. For example, working long hours, caring for a relative, or experiencing economic hardship, may exacerbate poor mental health.
These feelings usually last for the duration of whatever event may have sparked them. We know that when work calms down, assignments have been handed in, illnesses have passed, or arguments have been resolved, we will return to our cheery old selves.
However, from time to time, big feelings pop up and we just cannot find an obvious cause. Health, work, families, friendships, school… all sorted. So why the anxiety? Why do I feel like sleeping all day? Why does every little noise feel like a tiny gremlin is banging a drum between my ears? It is at times like these that we must pause and acknowledge that our mental health needs some attention.
There is a distinction between mental health and mental illness, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Mental health, put simply, refers to our emotions, thoughts, feelings, our ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties. It encompasses our social connections and even how we manage our environments. In the course of a lifetime everyone will have a challenge with their mental well-being. Understanding the need for a periodic mental health check in, is essential.
Mental illness, on the other hand, refers to conditions that affect a person's thinking, feeling, mood, or behaviour. There are many different mental illnesses, and they have different symptoms that impact peoples’ lives in different ways.
A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental and social well-being.
Mental health awareness is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. A person’s mental health can change over time, depending on many factors. In our current climate, for example, as we manage life during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is normal to experience fear and concern. On top of the fear of contracting the virus, there have been significant changes to our daily lives – restricted movements, lack of social (and physical) connections, temporary unemployment, new daily routines, such as: working from home, schooling children and ling up single file to enter our local supermarkets. These new realities are enough to invite 100 little gremlins to play around with our emotions.
Whilst we feel somewhat ‘at the mercy’ of all of these new realities, there are some things we can do to encourage balance and harmony in our lives. In fact, it is helpful to include wellness interventions in our weekly routine, as a rule, no matter how successful our coping strategies are. Just as we may intend to stay physically healthy by running, practicing yoga or even weight lifting, there are effective techniques to help improve our mental health.
It is, of course, essential that people who are experiencing overwhelming difficulties in everyday function, seek help from a mental health professional who is qualified to suggest coping strategies. and people who are having suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming others, need immediate help.
Taking care of your mental health can impact your personal wellbeing, relationships, resilience, and various other factors. Here are thirty suggestions to promote positive mental health.
- Be kind to yourself – make sure your inner voice is gentle
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables
- Reach out to a friend or family member – either online, on the phone, or even snail mail
- Do something kind for someone else - anonymously
- Try to quiet your mind – spend 5-20 mins each day in quiet reflection or meditation
- Watch something funny – a stand-up comedian or even a sitcom… whatever tickles your fancy
- Set some realistic intentions for yourself – either short or long-term goals
- Do something different – change the photos in your frames, make a new recipe, learn how to fold a fitted sheet
- Keep a Gratitude Journal – include three things you accomplished each day
- Drink a cup of Green Tea
- Plan a trip as if there were no restrictions (money no object) – stay in the fanciest chateau in France, travel first class all the way
- Sleep in a cool room – open all the windows and snuggle under a duvet
- Be active – get your heart pumping
- Get plenty of sleep
- Take a Mental Health day from work – and spend it however you like
- Be creative – write a poem, or a story, paint or sculpt
- Have a piece of dark chocolate
- Make a note of all your daily rituals – from your morning coffee to getting into bed. Are there any you would like to mindfully add or remove?
- Try to get 15 minutes of sun on your body
- Turn off your phone for (at least) an hour each day
- Listen to music in the morning while you get ready for your day
- Dance around your house
- Relax in a bath – adding beautiful, scented products to soothe you
- Make a list of things that are bothering you
- Send a note to someone to let them know you appreciate them
- Walk in nature
- Light a deliciously scented candle
- Have an introductory therapy session with a licensed professional
- Wake up early to watch the sun rise
- Hug someone close for 12 seconds – get the ‘feel good’ hormones flowing.
Here at Batenburgs, we make it easy for you to tick multiple items off this list. Doing something nice for someone else could be as simple as surprising them with one of our lush pamper hampers:
We are making huge strides in understanding mental health and well-being and it is quite acceptable, now, to prioritise self-care. The importance of treating mental health as seriously as physical health is now a well-accepted principle and one that we must embrace in our daily lives.