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It’s long been understood that your health is your foundation, as without it, life becomes a struggle… yet this term is often used in relation to one’s physical health.
Today, we are becoming more and more aware of how important one’s mental health is, as after all, the brain controls the body, meaning a mental health challenge can affect both your mind and your body; indeed, our mental health is often considered more important than our physical health because with the right attitude anything most things can be viewed positively, even objectively negative things.
For instance, there’s a very famous speaker that was born with no arms or legs. He tried to commit suicide by drowning in a paddling pool as a child, as he felt so hopeless, yet due to a shift in his attitude, he started to see his situation as a blessing in disguise and become one of the world’s leading inspirational speakers – specifically to school children on the topic of loving and accepting yourself.
Indeed, growing up today as a child, in this selfie obsessed somewhat narcissistic social media culture can be challenging. Even if you are an incredibly pretty child, you are not safe, as others will feel threatened by your beauty and pick on you for something else; bullying is rife and with the amount of young girls and boys committing suicide due to online bullying, there has never been a better time to think about fortifying your mental health and encouraging your children to develop a strong sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
That said, it’s all very well expecting the parents of children to raise their children with high self-esteem and mental fortitude, yet, just as a pilot instructs passengers to first tend to their own oxygen mask before helping their children – you first need to tend to your own needs, as it’s very hard to condition a child to believe in themselves and have high self esteem if you don’t yourself.
In that vein, here are five things that can help people improve their mental health:
TAKE TIME OUT FOR YOURSELF
It’s important to take time out for yourself, and to also encourage your children to take time out for themselves too. A change of scenery can be particularly helpful, and if you can combine this with an active adventure such as walking, climbing, or kayaking, all the better.
Indeed, being around water is known for its emotionally soothing qualities. Have you ever noticed how being by the sea, or a lake, or a waterfall can have a calming effect on your body and mind? This is also why, when we are upset, we enjoy long baths and spend more time in the shower – water can be a great emotional healer.
Exercise is a fantastic activity for both body and mind, yet when it comes to your mental health it can be particularly effective. Endorphins are released into your body during exercise and these chemicals are natural mood enhancers that make you feel good – they come out as a result of physical exertion and are compounded by the sense of achievement you feel after completing a class.
With regard to mental health, attending group fitness classes is often better than going it alone in the gym as there is a social aspect and energetic vibe that has the ability to change your emotional state – the pumping music, invariably happy instructor, and connection with other members on the basis you are all “in it together” creates a sense of communication and connection that we often need to build our mental toughness.
In addition to the mental health benefits that come as a result of exercising, there are the physical benefits that make you feel more confident about your figure and the most important aspect here, is that of progress. See, there’s huge transformative power in progress, in that when we feel we are making progress we can’t help but feel good about ourselves.
On the topic of progress, one of the best ways to improve your self-esteem and sense of self-worth is to pursue education, whether that’s an Engineering Masters at Kettering or a basic course at a local college – the pursuit of education and feeling of making progress, is what will help raise your self esteem.
There’s many other benefits to undertaking an academic course, with regard to career development, earning ability and so on, but also it goes back to the sense of connection and common purpose discussed in the fitness class example.
IN THE WORKPLACE
Today, mental health in the workplace is becoming a lot more recognised as a legitimate condition. There is still some stigma around mental health, but the popularity of terms such as “taking a mental health day” are becoming synonymous with a much more aware culture that treats mental health with the same importance as physical health.
With regard to dealing with issues at work, it’s important you tell people if you are struggling and open up about the reality of the condition – as often people still phone up sick today, pretending to have a stomach bug when in actuality they are suffering with low mood, stress, anxiety or depression.
It’s really important to have a good support network, with regard to family and friends, as these are people we can lean on at times of crisis and despair – people that know us and accept us just the way we are. Many people that don’t have a strong friendship group become overly reliant on their partner to the point of codependence, and whilst your partner should be your best friend, they should not be your only point of support – as if there are ever issues with your partner, where do you turn to?
The challenge, however, as we get older is that friends become more and more distant; they all pursue their own lives with their own families and branch off into little bubbles. Whilst this is perfectly normal, it is sad when long standing friendships wither away, so try to keep the fire of friendship going by reaching out and putting logs on the fire, nurturing it, to ensure it remains lit.
*This is a collaborative post*