Why it's important to talk about mental health.
With about 10 days left of Mental Health Awareness month I want to take some time and write about the importance of speaking about it and breaking the stigma, because I hear all too often things like "but you look happy", "They didn't mention anything", "They're always positive" - stress, anxiety, depression all look different on everybody. We are not the same, feel the same or think the same - and why you should never assume someones mental health is ok just because they might look happy to the outside world or not voice their feelings.
But, this is part of the problem. Poor mental health doesn't just make you feel terrible or a bit sad, it takes over your mind. It hides all logical ways of thinking, pushes away what you know is right and replaces it with self doubt, worry, stress and an overall whirlwind of emotion you can't seem to balance out. Poor mental health is hard enough as it is, whether you tackle it on a smaller scale or a huge scale - it's both very real. So imagine feeling like this (perhaps you have, I know I have and still do every now and then) and then also feeling like you can't tell anyone about what's going on in your head!! Imagine feeling trapped and wanting to cry out for help but think that people will think you're just crazy, angry, stupid, if you're a girl just 'moody'... so rather than make yourself feel worse it's just easier to keep things to yourself. NO! I won't settle for that as the answer anymore.
For far too long stress, anxiety, depression, bad body image or any kind of poor mental heath for that matter has been seen as a bad thing, things people would rather not discuss in a normal conversation - but that's the key to helping break the stigma! The more we open up, the more we make the subject a normal conversation we allow ourselves and those suffering to feel more safe and loved and not feel like they are creating another ‘burden’ on people they choose to share with, for simply voicing how they feel.
Being able to share your feelings and darkest days with someone (even just one other person) lifts so much weight off your shoulders. A sense of freeing or releasing the negativity and moving forward. Being able to know you can just talk. Say "hey, I'm not doing too good today actually" and know that person is there to listen - they don't even need to say anything. Just listening plays a huge part in the next step of feeling better...
So, as you can tell I'm pretty passionate on this subject! But now to the helpful stuff. Below are some tips, suggestions, things to think about when you're having a bad day. They don't always help, but I've found that sometimes just forcing my head space to think different for two seconds on one of these points can sometimes stop that anxiety attack from happening altogether. This is something I've tried to teach myself over the years and still am - and I think we can all appreciate my honesty and 'realness' when I say some days are just bad days and even if you try your hardest to stop your train of thought from spiraling out of control there's nothing you can do but ride this massive wave of self doubt and negativity until it crashes. It's usually not pretty.
My helpful tips for stopping those nasty thoughts in you mind, because self awareness is key to unlocking these thought patterns:
You can't live in the past nor the future, only RIGHT NOW! Think about that for a second. Is what you're overthinking, worrying or stressing about already happened or hasn't even happened (may not even happen) yet? Stop the "what ifs"!
Acknowledge how you feel and know that you're only human. You're ok, you're stronger than you think and you DO have help. Remind yourself that your feelings are valid.
Journal. Even if you think it's silly! If you can't quite speak what you're feeling try writing it out, just start writing anything and I can assure you once you start you won't stop until you've released everything you're thinking about. Read it back to yourself out loud - cry if you need to, yell, maybe even share it with your special person. The feeling you'll get reading this is so uplifting it's crazy. You almost always feel better.
Distraction. Now this can be anything really, the key is to start the distraction as soon as you feel like things are going to get really bad really fast. Some suggestions are: say an affirmation out loud "I AM STRONG, CAPABLE, LOVED AND AM WORTH MORE THAN WHAT MY MIND THINKS I AM." repeat until you feel at ease. Touch every wall in your house - weird but it diverts the train of thought. Count to 100. Put on your favourite song.
Get moving. Exercise is such a mood booster! I love it. If your head is all over the place or you're in a bad mood, get up and go for a walk. The fresh air will do you some good.
Treat yo' self with some self lovin'. A bath, face mask, even just washing your hair is nurturing. Slowing down and taking time to rest properly does wonders!
Remember your voice is powerful and your voice has meaning - speak up, tell someone how you feel, let them in. Sometimes we get so worked up in our own thoughts we can't see things straight anymore. That's why other people might be able to help put into perspective the situation, just hearing it said aloud can sometimes make you realise that what you were thinking was so skewed. This is normal if you tackle poor mental health on the daily - your brain has rewritten whats real and what's not in the wrong way and now you have to try reset it back to reality.
Do things daily to help better your mindset. Because to say it bluntly - we won't just wake up one day 'fixed', never to see another poor mental health day again. There's no magic pill or quick fix. It's constant work on yourself! Tell yourself something good each day, set goals to work towards, practice gratitude weekly and literally try and focus on the good first, the positive of each situation. Don't default to the negative what ifs. The only way to have a better mindset and better mental health is to work on it EVERY DAY until the default way of thinking is good, as much as we can in life anyways.
Whether you just feel off and not yourself, having a bad week or month, are stressed or anxious, or feel like you can’t get those voices putting you down in your head to shut up - please know I’m always here to listen 👂💕 We got this!!
We are all incredible humans! Let’s speak up, help each other and be KIND always - this is a good place to start 💕
Check out my FREE downloadable self love resources here along with the above and let me know if any have helped you.
And if you need someone else to talk to please call:
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636
Headspace 1800 650 890
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids help line 1800 55 1800