With everything that’s happening around us, it’s easy for your mental health to suffer. The danger, however, is to slip into that “low” and stay there.
Mental illness like every other type of illness can be mild, moderate, and manageable, or severe and fatal.
It’s real so let’s talk about it.
Now I know for some, even the most optimistic souls, this season has been long and hard. Unbeknown to us, some may be experiencing some form of mental health illness. My hope, with this piece, is that we will learn more about mental illness and take charge, where we need to.
Research suggests that there are five main warning signs of mental illness:
- Excessive paranoia, worry, or anxiety
- Long-lasting sadness or irritability
- Extreme changes in moods
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping pattern
Cause of mental illness include:
- childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect.
- social isolation or loneliness.
- experiencing discrimination and stigma.
- social disadvantage, poverty, or debt.
- bereavement (losing someone close to you)
- severe or long-term stress.
- having a long-term physical health condition.
- unemployment or losing your job.
Compound these with the current pandemic, isolation, home schooling, tragedy and loss, illness, financial constraints, relationship challenges, an uncertain future and so much more, its miraculous that some of us remain standing. In other words, you are not alone and if you are experiencing some of the signs of mental illness, there is no shame in it.
In life, there are many things we cannot control. We live in a diverse country with many cultures and different religious beliefs. For some, we survive by holding on to our beliefs. While others look to our mentors, community and family, there are still others who remain strong enough to rely on themselves. Whatever you using to cope make sure you are intentional about looking after your mental health.
So, how do you know if you are mentally healthy. For me, it’s being at peace at any given time, no matter what is happening around me. I suppose that saying “with age comes wisdom” really rings true. I have learnt that I don’t and cannot control some things that happen in this life.
Yes, we all can take decisions and have choices but there are just certain things, that we do not control. Now I’m not talking about folding my hands and waiting for the universe or a higher power to come through. If we want anything in life we must play our part, even in our mental health
If you are not sure about your current state of mind, there are many online tools available to help you. From simple to more complex subjects.
Check out one of them, take the “How Happy Are You” test and see where you come out. https://www.psycom.net/quizzes
10 Things You Can Do For Your Mental Health
1. Take care of your body
You only have one body and taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health.
- Eat nutritious meals (it’s winter now, you allowed to cheat some days!!)
- Avoid smoking and vaping
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise, helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods
- Get enough sleep.
2. You are worthy
Treat yourself with kindness and respect and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects decide to learn something new. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument, or in SA we have many, become fluent in another language.
3. Be careful who you hang out with
You have control over the people you connect with, what you read, what you listen to and what you watch. Make sure you intentional about choosing what is best for you. People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network.
Many are without employment. Whilst looking for your next job, volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need and it’s a great way to meet new people. Who knows, this very thing could lead to that new job!
5. Learn how to deal with your stress
Stress is a part of life, whether we like it or not. Coping with stress is a skill and we can only master it if we practice. Try various things that will help, do yoga, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet, or try journal writing as a stress reducer.
Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.
6. Be still, sometimes you just need to be quiet
Try meditating or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy. Remember by guarding your thoughts, you guard your mental health.
7. Set realistic goals
Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally, and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Be realistic and don’t over commit. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you tick these off your list. Celebrate each milestone big or small, to keep you motivated and on track.
8. Shake things up
Having routines and things to do lists, make us efficient and enhance our feelings of security. But, monotony can derail us quickly so change it up sometimes and leave time for spontaneous things.
9. Enjoy responsibly
Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate” but, the abuse of alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems.
10. Get help when you need it
Looking for help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. It is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.
Like with every dark cloud and storm that comes our way, it cannot last forever. Be assured that wherever you are right now, whatever your state of mind, this season too shall pass.
Lastly, with everything going on right now it would be an ideal time to review your financial planning, life covers, budgets, and finances. Financial wellness leads to mental wellness…we will gladly help where we can.
Until next time, keep safe, keep warm and choose HAPPY despite your circumstances!