Mental Health Awareness Day Oct 10

“Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are not signs of weakness.  They are signs of trying to remain strong for far too long.” (https://www.healthyplace.com/)

I spend a lot of time and effort researching and blogging about exercise, healthy meals and even ways to get the best sleep possible.  I think the most important topic I can focus on is the one that gets little positive attention = Mental Health.  It is a tricky thing since you cannot look at a person and recognize it.  Also if you are dealing with some type of mental health yourself, it might be confusing to pin point it.  Am I dealing with anxiety or do I just get nervous sometimes?  Am I just having a few gloomy days or is this a form of depression?

There is a day set aside yearly on Oct 10th to spread awareness and reduce negative stereotypes about mental health.  One out of four individuals deal with some variety of mental health concern.  There is a very wide range (I cannot list them all) from anxiety issues, PTSD and even substance abuse.  All are important and should be taken seriously.  Some have a physical impact (heart rate increase, sweating, etc) and some do not.  Some have strong emotions attached and some just leave you feeling cut off and numb.  The point is, they are not only difficult to detect but also the range is so wide and individualized that each person will have a different experience.  Which means there is a different journey to treat it and get help.

Sadly most of the individuals impacted do not get the treatment they deserve.  They might associate reaching out for help as admitting failure.  If they need help, then it means they were not tough or strong enough to deal with it alone.  However, the only failure I see is the social stereotypes that deter individuals from seeking help.  It is not a failure to get help from a certified social worker, therapist, etc.  It is strong, bold and brave to do so.

Making yourself a priority is the best type of self-love.  It is both important and necessary.  I personally sought out help and have been working on my anxiety and other related issues.  It is a personal journey and I do not expect to be 100% fearless or 100% happy all the time.  My goal is to respond instead of react to situations.  Talking with someone who not only has professional training but also has experience with treating similar situations is priceless.  I am also a person who likes to have a physical aspect to treatment so I have turned to yoga.  This is my third week of practicing yoga on an almost daily basis (I average 5 times per week right now).  Yoga improves the strength of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and helps you to respond in a more controlled manner to stressful situations (instead of fight or flight).  Yoga also reduces levels of the stress hormone called cortisol.

There are some points that I feel are important to note…

  • Mental health is important and should have a focus.
  • Be gentle and kind to yourself.
  • Sometimes your brain does require quiet time.  Make yourself a priority.
  • Giving yourself a hard time for not being able to handle it alone does make it worse.  Let untreated, it is not likely to get better.
  • It is never too late to get help.  You deserve it.
  • You are on your own personal journey.  Do not compare yourself to others.
  • Be kind, show compassion and be supportive of others.  You do not know what they are dealing with on the inside.
  • Check in with friends and family.  This does not mean to reach out only to those who show emotional sadness.  Sometimes the ones who smile and are upbeat all the time are the ones who are internally suffering the most.
  • Break the stigma.  Do not perpetuate the negative associations with mental health.
  • Be careful about saying sentences like “Don’t worry so much, it will be fine”, “Just get over it” or “Your life is great, just be happy”.  These will not help and might actually hurt.  It minimizes the importance of the situation which could cause more harm than good.  You might have the best intentions and just trying to help fix the situation, but there are times that comments hurt even if that was not the intention.

I hope this inspires you and helps to shine some light on this important topic.  Take care of yourself, your life is important.

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