So often I hear people say, ‘just lock me away, I’m crazy’, and I wonder is this how people see mental health? Is it a diagnosable condition like schizophrenia or psychosis, with obvious outwardly symptoms? Or perhaps it’s depression and anxiety, struggles many can conceal? Maybe it’s more simple than that and it’s all to do with how we feel, happy, sad, confused?
Mental health to me is so much more than that. It can be seen as physical symptoms, for instance a headache that won’t go away or loss of appetite without any physical cause. It is how we talk to ourselves, I’m guilty of this one, calling myself stupid every time I put my coffee in the fridge and carry the milk into the office!
Looking after our mental health should be something we all do, whether we have a diagnosis or we feel perfectly fine and healthy, as they say prevention is better than cure.
If we fall and cut our knees we bandage them up, so how do we look after something we can’t see?
Simple tips to help look after your mental health
- Talk about your feelings – getting things off your chest can be a real relief. If you feel unable to talk to friends or family, you could contact a counsellor in your area. Alternatively, write everything down, maybe seeing it in black and white will help put things in perspective.
- Keep active – regular exercise can help boost self-esteem, concentration, sleep and help you look and feel better. It helps keep your brain and other vital organs healthy. Even going for a light walk could help.
- Eat well – your brain and body need a mix of nutrients to stay healthy. Everyone loves a treat but throw in some fruit and vegetables to help boost the vital vitamins and minerals you need.
- Keep in touch – we are social beings and although the urge may be to lock yourself away, interacting and socialising will benefit your mental health.
- Ask for help – don’t be afraid to ask for help, visit your GP, a counsellor or one of many organisations out there such as the samaratins, action mental health and mind.
- Take a break – looking after yourself isn’t selfish it’s necessary. So if you can get a few days away, if not what about carving out some time in the day to do something you love, paint, read, drive, swim. (Personally, I love filling the bathtub with warm water and bubbles and soaking away my worries.)
Look after your mental health as you would your physical health because you are worth it.
Client account –
“Why did I attend counselling? This is a question I still don’t really know the answer to. I couldn’t tell you now how I was feeling because I didn’t know then and I don’t know now! So I’ll tell you what lead me to counselling…..I think I was angry, but I might have been sad, I know I just didn’t feel right. So, after a really bad night that saw me going to bed at 7pm, not because I was tired but just to make the day end, I decided I really needed to see my GP. I did that the next morning and sat in her office and cried so much I could hardly speak. I told her I didn’t know what was wrong with me I just didn’t feel right. She was amazing and really listened but I don’t think I really trusted her and so when she asked about what support I had at home or socially I lied and told her I had great family support and friends who were always there to listen. The reality was, I felt so bad about myself I had isolated myself from my friends, I really had nobody. She suggested I give counselling a try and I can say it really saved my life.
Sessions started with me saying things like, I don’t need to be here, I’m fine, I’m wasting your time and taking someone else’s place. Once I started to trust her, which really wasn’t hard she just seemed to get me, to understand and really listen to what I said, I started to get everything out. All this stuff about my parents and siblings, how bad I felt about myself and that nothing I ever did would be good enough came pouring out. For weeks I left her office with red, swollen eyes from crying, but it was worth it. I don’t know how it happened but when I finished I felt lighter, like I had left some really heavy bags down.
It made such a difference in my life. I started to value myself more and in turn my relationship with my husband blossomed. I reconnected with my friends and I now have a social life again. I was able to put so much stuff into perspective although it did take time, I don’t think I would be here now if I hadn’t reached out and spoke to my counsellor.”
If you answer yes to any of the following then counselling may be good for you.
- Does everything you feel seem intense?
- Have you suffered a trauma and can’t stop thinking about it?
- Do you have unexplained headaches, stomach-aches or a run-down immune system?
- Are you using substances to help you cope?
- Do you feel disconnected?
- Are your relationships strained?
- Have friends told you they are worried about you?
If you would like to read the full article “8 More Reasons to Go to Therapy”, click here.