Brushing your teeth. Washing your hands. Showering. Eating a balanced meal. Exercising every day. These are all basic methods to maintain physical health that we practice from a young age because we know that taking care of your body is essential for a healthy lifestyle.
But what about our minds? The mind allows us to feel, think, imagine, dream, and control our bodily functions. And yet, we do not learn day to day tasks for maintaining our mental health. Why? Many studies reveal that because mental health is not externally visible to us, we tend to ignore it. Even worse, a societal stigma has developed that people struggling with mental health are weak or attention-seeking. These negative opinions cause many to hide internal struggles with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, PTSD, and eating disorders, which only perpetuates the belief that mental illnesses are not prevalent.
In actuality, anyone can struggle with mental health, and many disorders have physical health repercussions: heightened blood pressure, panic attacks, nausea and stomach pain, migraines, weight gain, and decreased immune system function. Too many individuals suffer in silence every day.
So how do we combat the stigma and raise awareness about Mental Health?
Step 1: Inform yourself and others about mental health. If we know more, we can act more.
Step 2: Take time every day to listen to your body and be kind to yourself. Ask “How am I feeling today?” and be okay with the answer. Engage in self-care activities such as meditation, listening to music, reading, and drawing to create a more balanced lifestyle. Forgive yourself for bad days and enjoy yourself on the good days! Incorporate these “mental break” methods into your life so they become as natural as brushing your teeth.
Step 3: Encourage anyone you know that may be battling mental health issues to seek help from a family member, friend, or professional. You can never go wrong with checking in on others and it is important that we all practice being kind towards others to create communities of safety, support, and unity.
To learn more about mental health, visit the following website: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml