The spotlight has been shining more brightly on mental health over the past few years, as more and more public figures speak out about their own struggles with their mental health. With the taboo and shame surrounding mental illness continuing to lift, we are now more able to look at supporting people who struggle with their mental health, in the same way, people struggle with their physical health.
Over the years, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with the dark side of mental health. Twenty-one years ago today I was hospitalized after attempting to take my own life, and just before Christmas in 2015, my brother sadly lost his own life to suicide. You could say my relationship to mental illness has been an unfortunate one, but since stepping out of working in the music industry into the field of mental health and wellbeing, and speaking openly about my own struggles, I’ve found that mental ill health is a lot more common than you would think.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will suffer from some form of mental health problem each year, but since COVID-19 took hold 20 months ago, we are now seeing a mental health epidemic with 1 in 2 people now struggling with their mental health, as the ongoing impact of the pandemic continues to be felt around the world.
In honor of World Mental Health Awareness Day today, I wanted to share three things you can do today to look after and support your own mental health and wellbeing.
Self-care, like mindfulness, has recently become a word that in many ways is both overused and misunderstood, yet the importance of practicing self-care could not be more important today. One way to look after yourself by practicing self-care is to say no to things you don’t want to do. Many times you can sacrifice your own happiness to please others, but every time you say yes to other people, you say no to yourself, so start saying yes to yourself and no to those things you don’t want to do. Secondly, reconnect with your inner child. We can often take life too seriously, but when you connect with your inner child, you reconnect with the joy and playfulness that may be missing from your life, so let your inner child out to play today. Finally, forgive yourself. Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy and beat yourself up over the smallest of things, so take the time to be compassionate to yourself today and practice forgiveness.
Be Mindful of What You Consume
What you consume can impact how you feel inside, and this relates not only to the food and drink you consume but also what you watch on the TV, who you follow on social media, and who you surround yourself with. If the news makes you feel worse about yourself, reduce or stop watching it. If following certain people on social media makes you feel worse about yourself, mute or unfollow them. If the people you hang out with are always negative, protect yourself by keeping them at a distance. Instead, spend your time watching things that make you feel happy and warm inside.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Life is a marathon, not a sprint, and sometimes we are ahead and sometimes we are behind, which means we often look to others to gauge where we are at in life in comparison to ourselves. The only comparison you should be making is to yourself and whether you are evolving. Social media often only shows you the highlights of people’s lives and not the full content. Remember: Am I making progress toward where I want to be in comparison to a year ago, rather than am I making progress in comparison to x, y, or z?