If somebody asked you if you were healthy, what would you say, and how would you qualify your answer? For many of us being healthy means having a stable, normal body weight and being able to fight off those annoying ailments that fly around every winter. Physical health is critical, but this is not the only element on which we should focus.
The definition of health also mentions psychological wellbeing. Often, mental health is linked to physical health, and there are many reasons why mental health should be a priority for all of us. If you’re guilty of putting your psychological health on the back-burner, here are some guidelines to bear in mind.
Understand what’s ‘normal’
Normal is one of those words that nobody really likes to use when talking about mental health, but it can be hugely beneficial to understand what is normal and what isn’t. When diagnosing depression, for example, it’s vital for doctors to get the message across that it’s not ‘normal’ to struggle to get out of bed on a daily basis and to go through periods when you feel so low that there isn’t a way out.
Many people don’t realise that they have a mental illness because they assume that others go through the same experiences or suffer from the same symptoms, when that isn’t the case. It’s a lot harder to know if you have a mental illness because often, there are no visible symptoms.
There’s no blood oozing from a wound or shooting pain, for example. If you don’t feel happy, or you’re not able to cope with stress, it’s critical that you understand that you don’t have to feel like this.
Evaluate your behaviour and habits
It can be very difficult to learn about yourself because you have no external perspective. You may criticise others for the way they respond to situations or empathise with people who seem to be going through a tough time, but it’s often hard to have an accurate understanding of how you respond to difficult times or how your behaviour represents or affects your mental health.
When times get tough, what do you do? What does a day in your life entail? How do you cope with stressful situations? Do you speak about how you’re feeling or do you keep everything to yourself? Are you prone to following the crowd, or can you stand on your own two feet?
It’s hugely beneficial to evaluate the way you live your life to help you identify problem areas and find solutions. Many people have coping mechanisms they can turn to, but others find it difficult and resort to habits that are damaging and harmful, such as drinking too much or taking recreational drugs.
If this is a scenario that sounds familiar, programmes like ARC Project can help. If you understand that your reaction or method of coping isn’t the best option, there are people out there who can help you develop new techniques that will benefit you moving forward.
If you were suffering from migraines, stomach cramps or back pain, you’d probably feel fine talking about your symptoms with a doctor or your work colleagues or friends. Mental illness is different, and many people attempt to hide it away.
Speaking up is important not just to ensure you get the help you need, but also to help others. Your story could inspire others to speak out and also help the people around you understand what you’re going through.
You may be fit and active with a diet laden with superfoods, but are you as healthy as you think? Mental health is as important as physical health, yet so many of us paper over the cracks.