It’s like we blink and it’s another Mental Health Awareness Week (“MHAW”), month or day! You can’t look around without someone talking about the benefits of working out for both your physical and mental health, being encouraged to download the latest app to enlighten your mind or seeing a TV or billboard advert encouraging you to talk to someone (my favourite is ITV’s). Even Boris Johnson is consistently talking about everyone taking advantage of the unlimited daily workouts available so that you stay on top of your mental health during this global pandemic and national lockdown.
It seems like the persistent push to see our mental health the same way we see our physical health is paying off little by little. Step by step. Day by day. With more people being in tune with their feelings, aware of what they think and how they feel, we are really and truly normalising the conversation around talking about mental health, collectively.
“Everyone has mental health, just like everyone has physical health. A mental illness is an illness that affects the way people think, feel, behave or interact with others. There are many different mental illnesses and they have different symptoms that impact peoples lives in different ways. Just as someone who feels unwell may not have a serious illness, people may have poor mental health without a mental illness… It is entirely possibly to have good mental health even with a diagnosis of mental illness.” – heretohelp.bc.ca
The theme for May’s MHAW is kindness. How kind are you to your family, to your neighbours, to the person who served you at the checkout? How kind are you to yourself?
It is very very important to treat yourself with kindness and to speak highly of yourself because the words you speak to and about yourself are what is then manifested within and through you. You can’t be kind to others, love others and treat others with respect if you can’t do it to yourself first. Not only are you doing yourself a disservice but the words you speak will be disingenuous to others.
I try my UPMOST to be kind to every person I come into contact with. Whether they’ve done good to me or not. A “please” and “thank you” or simple appreciation goes a long way. Not only because you don’t know what that person is going through but because one day you yourself will want someone to show you that same kindness too.
Treat others as you’d like to be treated
The way I visualise it is that the same type of grace we would appreciate from someone if we had done something wrong, is the same grace, love and forgiveness we should give others. From a Christian perspective, the same Grace Jesus has granted us despite our flaws and wrongdoings is the same Grace we should hand to our neighbour no matter what.
People do people wrong all the time. Friends betray you, family mistreat you, colleagues backstab you. No, don’t be a doormat or a pushover (you’re too precious for that) but do stand your ground and protect your spirit. So be open to forgiving and letting things go. You’re allowed to move on and leave it in the past but do it with a clean heart.
Its great that the theme this week is “kindness” as I believe that’s the foundation of good mental health. Having the ability to showing kindness to yourself, friends and strangers, appreciating the simple things and changing negatives into positives. Once you start being kind to yourself, being kind to others it becomes second nature. You’re able to navigate life with a positive attitude, mindset and belief. Yes, trouble and issues rise up at every corner but it’s your attitude towards it that changes things to be as positive as it can be.
Being a mental health advocate is more than just telling people about the importance of looking after their mental health or breaking the stigma. It’s also about informing people about what they can do to improve their lifestyle, career, relationships and personal life. During this Covid-19 pandemic, it’s even more important to pick up what you can to ensure that you’re aware of the help available. My friends over at Engineer Your Mind & Use Tembo have amazing webinars, apps and resources to help you implement positive wellbeing attitudes and tips. Podcasts such as Silence the Shame, The 90s Baby Show and The Receipts Podcast show you how easy it is to talk about your mental health and there being no shame with expressing your emotions to your nearest and dearest.
There are so many tools, platforms and people doing great work to break the stigma around talking about and looking after our mental health. Even though its only MHAW, we are doing our best to be aware of our mental health every day.