I chose the phrase ‘mental health matters’ for my FaceBook page as a daily reminder that our mental health is important. Mental health affects our functioning; it affects our concentration; it affects our energy level.
There is a growing awareness about mental health. Bell Let’s Talk Day is a great initiative which puts mental health in the forefront and facilitates discussion to help de-stigmatize it. However, we must continue the conversation beyond this one day. We need to consider our own mental health and what we need to do to protect it. We need to consider the mental health of others – those around us that we love and care about – family, friends, and coworkers. Help others by supporting them in what matters to them. Let them know that you are there for them through verbal support and action. Every action – even something small – can help someone’s mental health and enable them to get through a rough time. Be that person.
When I look at my life and I think about my mental health a few things come to mind. I need regular and consistent exercise and healthy eating. I need to engage in self-care such as daily skincare, relaxing tea, walks in nature, and periodic facials. There are TV shows that energize me such as Ellen – I can spend the entire hour smiling when I watch Ellen. She is a God-send! These are what I do for myself.
I also need things from others although admittedly these are not in my control so I cannot consistently count on them. That is precisely why I need to have my own mental health ‘guards’ because ultimately I cannot rely on others. I need to take control of my own mental health. If others are there for me – great – they come along with me but I do not rely on them.
What do I need?
Support – through the rough times. Not platitudes and not assurances that everything is alright. I mean real empathy and support.
Acceptance for who I am – this has been challenging over the years for sure! Still not sure I have this but I have learned that self-acceptance is key!
Permission to be me – tied to acceptance for who I am, ‘permission to be me’ includes allowing me to be me on a daily basis. This includes allowing me to express concerns, anxieties, and feelings without mockery, without judgement, and without negative labels.
Showing up – consistently being there and supporting me. This is where I have seen who my ‘friends’ are and who in my family is willing to be ‘that’ person – ‘my’ person.
Life is all about ups and downs. We must develop the habits that enable us to manage inevitable struggles and challenges. It is through habits, coping strategies, and positive self-talk that we can become more resilient. Join the ride!