It's no secret that mental health problems are among the most pressing issues faced by society today. So why are we so bad at talking about them?
Problems such as low-mood, depression, generalised anxiety, drug addiction and bipolar disorder are incredibly common, affecting more than a quarter of us at some point in our lives, yet we still struggle to talk about them openly or seek help when we need it most.
Today is World Mental Health Day, and this year's focus is psychological first aid. Whether we suffer from mental health problems or not, we can all benefit from taking better care of our psychological well being - and doing so can be as simple as...
1. Talking about your feelings
Research shows that mental health problems are much more likely to progress if we avoid talking about them in the first place. Often, the first step towards recovery is openly addressing our problems and speaking out about our experiences. Doing so combats feelings of isolation and introversion, and opens us up to receiving the help and support that we need.
Pysical activity does wonders for our mental health on a number of levels: it lifts us out of our headspace, bolsters our confidence and self-esteem, and lifts our mood by encouraging the release of seratonin.
3. Eating well
Your brain is an organ just like any other, so it needs the right mix of nutrients in order to function properly and stay healthy. Physical health is integral to mental health, so consume accordingly!
4. Drinking sensibly
Alcohol is often treated as a short term solution for low-mood or anxiety, but the chemical reactions caused when we drink actually contribute to these symptoms (hence the common phenomenon of hangover guilt), and the habit of drinking to avoid our problems ultimately stops us from dealing with them in a meaningful way.
5. Keeping in touch with loved ones
Mental health issues can often make you feel like shutting off from those around you, when really connecting with others is the best way to ensure you feel loved and cared for.
6. Asking for help
Everybody struggles at points in their lives, and it's no sign of weakness to ask for help or advice from friends and loved ones. If the struggle starts to affect your daily life, there are plenty of services available to provide support and guidance.
7. Taking a break
If mental health problems start to get the better of you, it's important to give yourself time to recoup. Don't overload yourself and don't be afraid to say no.
8. Doing something you’re good at
It's important to remind yourself of the things that you're good at. Focus your energies on activities that bolster your sense of self-worth, and let yourself enjoy the sense of achievement this brings.
9. Accepting who you are
Comparing yourself to others is a sure-fire way to develop unrealistic expectations of yourself. Instead, revel in your strengths and accept your weaknesses. Nobody is perfect and everybody is unique, so don't expect different of yourself.
10. Caring for others
Caring for others helps you to maintain close, meaningful relationships and develop a tight support network. Furthermore, the act of caring for others helps you to gain perspective on your own problems, and immediately gives you a feeling of satisfaction and self-worth.
More information about mental health can be found at The Mental Health Foundation.