Mental health can be affected by anything. To recognize the importance of mental health, people around the world are celebrating World Mental Health Day on Thursday, Oct. 10.
I am writing this to help people in any way, shape or form that I can. Below are some tidbits of my life, tips on how to achieve positive mental health, and advice on how to help others who are in need of assistance (whether they realize it or not).
Ways to Achieve Positive Mental Health (Mental Health Foundation)
1) Talk about your feelings ~ Growing up, I was always extremely open and honest with my emotions and what I was feeling. However, sometimes there are things we need to say that we don’t feel comfortable talking about with our “normal people.” I was hesitant when my mom suggested I see a therapist, but I am so happy I did. I was able to tell my therapist things that I had never expressed aloud before. I highly encourage talking about your feelings, whether it’s with a family member, friend or therapist. Either way, there’s no shame.
2) Exercise ~ Whenever someone says “exercise,” I think “extra fries.” I can’t run a mile in six minutes, and I am definitely not athletic. As much as I didn’t like gym class in school growing up, I still make sure to exercise when the depression kicks in. Whether it be rollerblading or yoga, I make sure to be active, especially during the winter time when my seasonal depression makes things go from bad to worse.
3) Eat healthy ~ I know how boring those two words sound. Don’t get me wrong, I love deep fried twinkies, but there is a time for junk food and a time for healthy food. To maintain and/or improve mental health, I suggest fruits and veggies. Blueberries, bananas and strawberries are my favorite go-to fruits. When it comes to veggies, broccoli, carrots and sugar snap peas are my favorites. Italian herb crackers with roasted pine nut hummus is also a delicious snack (despite the unappetizing look of it). For more tasty recipes, I highly recommend Pinterest.
4) Stay hydrated ~ A saying I like to live by is “hydrate or die-drate.” Seriously, simply staying hydrated with water can improve mental health dramatically. Check out some of these reusable water bottles!
How to Help Others (National Alliance on Mental Health)
5) Take the person to a comfortable area ~ Again, I am a very open person; I will talk about almost anything nearly anywhere. However, most people aren’t comfortable opening up about their feelings in front of others. Take them to an area where they are comfortable, sit down and listen to what they have to say.
6) Don’t pry ~ Everybody opens up at a different pace. Ask questions, but don’t make them feel like you are forcing them to say what’s on their mind. Give them the opportunity to open up, and understand that silence is okay while they are processing their feelings.
7) Let them know you care ~ When I feel depressed, I tend to prefer alone time. Some people favor isolating themselves from the people around them, and sometimes that is okay. However, find a healthy balance between giving them space and making sure they know that they’re loved.
8) Be sensitive and empathize ~ Avoid placing blame on the other person. As I mentioned before, people who isolate themselves when their mental health is bad typically feel guilty afterward about not making time for their friends. Don’t make your friend or peer feel bad for putting their mental health first because that is what everyone should do. Don’t talk too much, either; otherwise they won’t get a chance to voice their own opinions. Avoid saying things like “You just need to think positively” and “Everyone feels like that sometimes.” Overall, just remember to keep in mind the real reason you’re talking to them: you want them to feel comfortable with you, and you want them to feel safe.
Keep these eight pieces of advice in mind this World Mental Health Day and every day, for that fact, because mental health is extremely important. Whether these tips are for you or a friend, remember that you are not alone and there are many resources available to help you through what you are experiencing.