For many years, the focus was on being physically fit and thinking about financial wellness. Little or no attention was paid to Mental health. Ignoring mental health can have devastating effects on your overall wellness. The good news is that in recent years, there is more attention paid to mental health and many conversations are being had about debilitating mental illnesses and their effects. Now more than ever, it’s time to make mental health a priority.
Understanding mental health
Mental health and illness are general terms used to describe several psychological disorders. These include, but are not limited to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
What are the benefits of having good mental health?
When we are mentally strong and healthy, we enjoy a good quality of life and what it has to offer. We are more productive, feel more fulfilled, we are expectant, optimistic, creative, and open to living. We are also better equipped to cope when dark times come, and difficult situations arise.
- Positive self-image
- Healthy relationships
- A healthy work-life balance
- Increased learning, creativity
- Reduced risk of depression
The past few years have been challenging for people’s mental and emotional health, to say the least. The knock-on challenges and effects of the pandemic had a significant impact on many people – and the lasting effects are still evident today. We can get so busy trying to survive the various storms that we don’t take care of our mental health. But it’s time to make our mental health a priority.
8 Ways to Make Mental Health a Priority
Our mental health influences how we think, and feel, how we handle situations, and the choices we make. We need to realise that our mental health plays in our everyday life and affects every area of our lives. This stresses the need to prioritise it more than ever. Here are a few ways you can make your mental health a priority.
- Move. The mind and body are linked. Physical exercise releases happy hormones, endorphins, that give you energy and improve your mood. ‘moving’ doesn’t necessarily mean pumping iron and lifting weights in the gym. Dance, yoga, hiking, cycling, or going for a walk every day – whatever your idea of a great time, do it.
- Get support. We were not created to do life alone. Not everyone is fortunate to have family or friends close by or that they can confide in. However, cultivating a solid support system for yourself is key. Join support groups if you can and make friends who will be able to support you through your hard seasons.
- Seek help. Despite the stigma attached to mental health, there is no shame in asking for help when you need it. Seeking help doesn’t make you weak. If anything, it’s a sign of strength. “It may sound paradoxical, but strength comes from vulnerability” – Barack Obama
- Educate yourself on mental health. It’s important to know what mental health is and isn’t. Knowing the signs, symptoms, triggers, and other vital information arms you with knowledge about what you can do to begin your healing.
- Practice self-care. Self-care is not just lying in a bubble bath with a face mask and lit candles. It’s giving your body what it needs to function at its best. Become friends with your body, eat well, set goals for yourself, and limit stress. If you don’t pick a day to relax, your body will pick it for you.
- Rest. Don’t be too busy to rest. Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Try to set and keep to a strict sleep schedule. You will wake up fresh and with the energy to tackle the day ahead.
- Set boundaries. When you say ‘yes’ to everything, you’re also saying yes to the time, energy and effort required for that task or activity. Know your limits and the capacity you must take on more of anything. Learn how to say “no”.
- Reduce screen time. Phones, TV, laptops. It seems we don’t know how to switch off. This is not to say don’t watch your favourite TV shows, or movies or see what your friends are up to on social media. These are all ways of unwinding too, but it’s important to know when to stop scrolling and spend time with people in real life.
- Draw the line between real and fake. Mot everything you see on social media is real – well all know that. Be cognisant of what you consume and how it could make you doubt the beauty of your life or pressure you into thinking you’re not doing as well as someone’s highlight reel. What we consume can consume us.
No one is immune to the harsh realities of life. This can be our friends, family, neighbours, or even colleagues. Mental health issues have no regard for age, race, creed, or economic standing. We all experience life’s challenges and stressors. Although these may look different to each person and have a different effect on them, life hits us all. Anyone can suffer from mental health issues.
If you think you need help, take our free online mental health assessment to understand and enhance your personal levels of positivity and confidence in your life.
The more you know about mental health, the more empowered you are to offer help to those around us and even yourself. Choose every day to make your mental health a priority.