Better mental health starts with yourself
I’m a mostly happy person.
I’ve always been an optimist and choose to see the best in people plus any situation I find myself in.
Of course, there’s still plenty of things for an optimist get angry about. For me, it’s when someone tries to take away someone else’s happiness. That’s not ok. I choose to think that the ‘bad person’ is that way because maybe their Dad didn’t tell them how much they loved them. Or that their mother didn’t hug them enough. And that makes me luckier, not better, than them.
(It’s not your fault if your parents weren’t perfect. But how you behave is still your responsibility).
With poverty and homelessness, the systematic-destruction of the NHS, everyday hatred towards immigrants, women and the LGBTI+ community, Brexit, the rise of the far-right and the persecution of Palestinians, there is so much to be angry about. But being angry all the time is tiring and it eventually wears me down.
So, sometimes I just walk away instead. I don’t make a comment or I choose not to read a news story that I know will aggravate me. And that’s ok. I can’t fix everything or get involved in every single worthwhile cause. I’m only one person.
To walk away isn’t to ‘not care’, it’s to put yourself first. And putting yourself first isn’t selfish. Putting yourself first shouldn’t invoke any feeling of guilt or judgement and certainly doesn’t mean that your ability to care is in anyway diminished.
Better mental health is about putting yourself first
Putting yourself first is making sure you’re still here tomorrow. It means ensuring that, the awesome, powerful and positive package of energy that is you, is still able to carry on and fight on if needs be. The world is a better place because you’re in it. We can’t afford to lose you.
In a work situation, this might mean occasionally saying no and establishing some boundaries on workload or respect.
So, if there is something that is getting you down, walk away from it if you can. It could be a relationship, a habit or a work environment. The best way to give your mind a break from the anger/worry/stress is to do something physical. Like going for a walk, doing some gardening or dancing.
If there isn’t anything, in particular, that’s playing on your mind, doing one of the above is still good for mentally. But so is doing nothing. It allows your mind to wander and for your subconscious to have a play. Doing nothing – aka daydreaming – helps promote your creativity and imagination.
Having good mental health doesn’t just mean not having depression or anxiety. It means being able to function at a social and emotional level. But it also means to be receptive to learning new things, forming good relationships and being able to cope when things don’t go to plan.
Quite rightly, we need better provision for and awareness of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. But that shouldn’t detract from the everyday things we can each do to achieve better mental health.
So, when you’re out walking, if you meet someone smile and say “Hello” – you might just have made them feel better too.