Mental health is one issue people in this part of the world people seem not to care about much or pay attention to. Mental health is as important as physical health.
Mental health is often mistaken for mental illness or mental disorder, but they are worlds apart.
What is mental health?
According to the WHO, mental health is a state of wellbeing in which each individual realises their potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and can make a contribution to their community.
The keywords in mental health are control, cope, managing and expressing your emotions. These are the basics that help you stay in charge of your feelings and expressions. Just a few weeks ago, was the suicide prevention week, check out the article we put out here. Like it or not, suicide is closely linked to the state of your mental health that why there’s a need to keep stressing the importance of positive mental health.
World mental health Day, which began in 1994 is now celebrated yearly on The 10th of October and this year is themed “mental health in an unequal world”. This day is important because it makes one realise that you can’t have a good life if your mental state is fragile. Mental health is key to general health and key to the quality of life but this is seldom talked about even though mental health should be championed and advocated by everyone because mental illnesses give birth to serious physical illnesses like obesity, diabetes, arthritis and some other inflammatory diseases.
Happiness, sadness, joy, stress, negative emotions etc are part of our everyday life and it’s easy to manage the positive emotions but it is the negativity that comes from sadness, stress, criticism that is often difficult to manage, the ability to know when to allow and tune out the negative thoughts and emotion is what makes one mentally strong.
How to maintain and improve your mental health
- Connect with people: surround yourself with happy, positive and good people. It is popularly said that we are the average of the five people we spend most of our time with. This saying applies to every area of one’s life whether business, relationship, religion or just regular friendships. People rub off their positivity or negativity on each other and if you stick with backbiting people with bad energy, it will certainly affect your mental health. Also, stick around people who make you feel strong and special, when your spouse, family and friends believe in you, there’s this confidence and backing it gives you but when these same set of people keep talking you down, you may begin to have esteem issues, doubt your every move and decision. This is bad for your mental health, know when to block that negativity and refuse to be talked down or feel less about yourself.
- Exercise regularly: exercising improves your mood and boosts your dopamine, the hormone responsible for satisfaction and reward. After exercising your body feels great by releasing dopamine, giving your body a capacity for joy and reducing any form of depression. It also improves your mental health by reducing anxiety, negative energy, relieves stress, boosts your confidence, self-esteem and helps you clear your head. If you don’t exercise regularly, attempt to incorporate it into your daily routine. Exercising doesn’t have to be strenuous or stressful, simply taking a walk around the block works, some indoor exercise, cycling or even going to the gym can help maintain your mental health.
- Get involved in activities you love: what’s that one thing that makes you happy? It may be one or multiple things, ensure to always engage in those things. It may be music, dancing, games, some sporting activity or even cooking as it is for me. Doing these things provides that balance, it kind of takes your mind off the everyday stress. It has been proven that these activities also help fight off depression as doing most of the activities release adrenaline and completion of them release dopamine and help your brain function optimally.
- Sleep well: getting a good night’s sleep is not just another routine, it is a time for your body to rest and repair itself. Lack of sleep can be caused by things in your surroundings or it could be something within you hindering you from sleeping. If you have insomnia or any of those sleep disorders you can find a solution. Lack of sleep is bad for your physical and mental health. An individual is expected to have at least 5 hours of sleep every night.
- Manage your stress levels: everyone goes through different stress levels but your ability to manage yours helps you stay positive and sane. Some situations can be overwhelming, like having to manage work, family, relationships, deadlines etc. They can trigger negativity and you may begin to snap at people, eat less and not care for yourself anymore. When you find yourself in that kind of situation, just take a break, plan your activities and make time for every one of your activities so that you don’t drown. Ask for help when you feel stressed, whether at work or home.
- Don’t bottle up emotions: talk about your feelings! Society has made it hard for certain genders to talk about their feelings, men precisely, you hear people say you are a man so you gotta act strong, men don’t cry! No matter what your gender is, learn to express your emotions, don’t let anyone decide how you express your feelings. Crying especially helps you release repressed emotions and clears your head, that process is called catharsis and it can be therapeutic.
- Reduce or avoid alcohol and drugs: heavy alcohol consumption interferes with the chemical balance in the brain and causes one to make terrible decisions. Alcohol may be an immediate escape from reality but in the long run, it would harm your mental health causing anxiety, depression and makes it even more difficult to handle stress. A little alcohol may be good but excess of it will create an initial calming numbness but as soon as it begins to wear off, you may feel a rush of negative emotions and anxiety.
- Talk to a therapist: this is the part people ignore until it becomes so bad. Seeing a therapist can be very helpful whether it’s for marriage and relationship issues, psychotic breakdown, when you feel distressed and overwhelmed or when things interfere with the enjoyment of your daily life. You also don’t need to be clinically diagnosed with any mental illness before you see a therapist.
- Look out for yourself: this is a good time to be selfish, yes I said it. Sometimes we put others before ourselves, especially those who are empathetic. I have a friend who always tells me these people you are worrying about or putting first will go on if you break down’ and truthfully, you are expendable. So think of yourself first when it comes to your mental health because if you are not optimal you can’t be useful to anybody.
The objective of world mental health day is to raise awareness on mental health issues around the world and every individual has a role to play by supporting those who need help and ensuring mental care is accessible to everyone. Show your support for this day by sharing this article with your community.