I never thought of myself as having mental health concerns. I was actually totally against even the suggestion or thought of such a thing. I thought, as many thinks, that if you had some difficulty with mental health meant that you had some type of personality disorder or you were flat out crazy. Hence the stigma of mental health. I still don’t fully understand what having mental health concerns are to its fullest. But I found some definitions that were helpful and some ways to help yourself through the process of more enjoyable life.
Mental health: is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Seems simple enough. Mental health ranges greatly with each individual and we shouldn’t compare our “coping with normal stresses of life” with others. We walk in our own shoes.
Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions, according to the definition from the Mayo Clinic— disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time.
I do have to admit that I have had depression and anxiety in the past caused by divorce and most recently with the death of my 17-year-old daughter. So should I be ashamed of it, NO. Should you, NO.
Here are some steps I took to help get through and over my depression, anxiety, through my grieving and post-traumatic stress. I had a lot to deal within 11 years. And these are the things I’ve always gone back to, to simplify my health.
1. Exercise – Exercise helps in a number of ways, it releases feel-good brain chemicals such as endorphins that will help you feel better. You learn to cope in a healthy way, exercise takes your mind off your worries which is super important. For a few minutes you think of other things (try to think of good and happy thoughts).
You don’t have to have a structured program if you don’t feel you can manage one. I found going to a yoga class for stress and anxiety extremely helpful. You learn to breathe, use your body in a gentle way and you get to leave your home and socialize.
2. Nutrition – Eating Well What does that mean? Your brain functions best when it is fed only premium nutrients (fuel) like a sports car. Eating high-quality food that contains lots of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects the cells.
Eating like this makes you feel better and you have more energy than eating foods highly processed and refined. If this is foreign to you try eating fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and seafood. Limit red meats. Eat a more traditional Japanese or Mediterranean diet. People who eat like this and these cultures have significantly less depression according to Harvard Medical School Health Blog, Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food, November 16, 2015)
3. Meditation – “Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the center of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified”, according to an article.
I agree with this definition. It is a precise technique, it’s an experience.
Meditation was something I learned over the past year. It has helped me so much to calm my inner self, relieve stress and to live in the moment. It has helped me decrease my depression and anxiety to the point it’s almost non-existent.
Meditation changes your brain and with it, the way your body responds to stress. Which works wonders in anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder according to an article in SELF, March 2, 2016, by Amy Marturana.
4. Limit Alcohol – I would go as far as don’t even touch the stuff if you are suffering from depression and anxiety. I know you don’t want to feel the way you do even for a day but when the alcohol gets out of your system, everything you didn’t want to feel comes back bigger, worse and uglier than before.
After my daughter passed away in a tragic car accident it was extremely hard on me and my family. I had to go through the grieving process, but it also brought on some anxiety and depression that was leftover from another situation. I got to a point I didn’t want to cry one more time, hurt one more second or remember her beauty and laughter one more time. It was hard, my solution was to be drunk for 2 days. The third day I felt everything I was to feel the previous two days and I cried and it was much uglier than if I just went through the process of feeling what I was feeling for the moment.
Alcohol is not the answer, it truly makes things a whole lot worse than they need to be. So please learn from my craziness and don’t use alcohol to cover up emotions that need to be felt.
5. Medication – Work with your doctor. I hated the thought of taking medication but I just couldn’t manage with just exercise, good nutrition and meditation alone. I cried when she suggested it but I knew something had to be done. It’s no different than a diabetic taking insulin. If it’s needed it’s needed. Humble yourself and do what is necessary for your own mental health and the mental health of others.
I hope these tips help and remember you are not alone. And if you need more help please call your crisis help line or someone you trust.
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