September is Mental Health Awareness Month which is a time for us to shine a spotlight on a topic that is often swept under the rug. For years, discussing mental health issues has been almost taboo. As we have learned, just because we are not talking about the elephant in the room does not mean it is not there.
If the silencing stigma surrounding mental health has you feeling alone, note The Mental Health Foundation reports that 1 in 6 adults in the United Kingdom experience a common mental health ailment during any given week.
In fact, mental health issues are the second-largest source of disease burden in the UK, making it more common and longer-lasting than other physical health conditions. However, did you know that only 1 in 8 of these people are seeking professional help for their conditions?
Whether you battle with depression, wrangle anxiety, or navigate complex phobias, know that others, including those closest to you, have most likely been in your shoes. The sooner we as a society realise that discussing our compromised mental health is something to be celebrated and not shamed, the sooner we can dismantle these dangerous stigmas.
This past year in quarantine has brought more stress, changes, and hardships to people already experiencing difficult times.
It is more important than ever to embrace Mental Health Awareness Month, start the conversation, and get proactive about taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Exploring Emotional Health
Emotional health is an aspect of your mental health in which you are aware of your emotions and how to cope with them, whether they are negative or positive.
If you are curious about the current state of your emotional health, consider the following questions:
- Is it hard to articulate how I am feeling during emotionally charged situations?
- Do I struggle to differentiate between sadness, fear, anger, confusion, etc.?
- Do I physically or verbally lash out or avoid problems instead of working through them in difficult moments?
- Instead of reacting, do I simply feel nothing at all? Am I burnout or apathetic?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are your emotional health could use a check-up.
We always recommend you consult with a professional as they can provide you with top-notch resources and insight.
However, there are steps you can be taking in your everyday life to improve your emotional health.
Stress is often the biggest culprit of destroying our mental health. Stress also creates a vicious cycle; first, it can physically wear us down causing us to fall behind on our work and relationships. This lag causes more stress that takes a mental toll on us, leaving us too fatigued and distracted to bolster our physical health. In order to break this cycle, we can harness self-care techniques that reduce our overall stress and give us the time, space, and energy to get our health – physical, mental, and emotional – back on track.
Set Your Self-Care Schedule
“Self-care” seems to be one of the hottest new buzzwords on the Internet. But what is self-care? Self-care can take many forms – a luxurious bubble bath after a stressful day, a quick jot in a gratitude journal, or a commitment to work out every morning; it is any practice that nourishes your body, mind, and soul.
To many, the idea of finding another ten minutes in your day seems like a stretch, let alone an hour or more. It is essential to establish self-care as an investment in yourself. Taking ten minutes to start your day on the right foot can have you feeling ripple effects well into the night. Set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier than usual or perhaps block out your lunch break during work. Dedicate a set time for your self-care and soon enough it will become an effortless part of your routine.
What activities you choose to incorporate in your self-care schedule depends on what you need the most. Take a quick assessment of your current state – what needs help now? Is your body fatigued? Is your mind too cluttered to think straight? Choose activities that align with your needs once you have pinpointed which aspect of your health you want to remedy. Some of our favourite forms of self-care to reduce stress include:
- Going to therapy
- Trying a new workout class
- Taking a hot bath
- Sticking to a sleep schedule
- Limiting time spent on the Internet or our devices
- Enforcing boundaries with friends, families, and coworkers
- Spending time in nature
- Getting a massage
- Picking up a new hobby
- Getting coffee with a friend