Today is World Mental Health Day, which is a super important day to raise awareness and general understanding of mental health. Even with all of the available resources and high-profile figures spearheading campaigns to get people talking about their mental health, this still continues to be a taboo topic and something that many people shy away from discussing.
Personally I am a huge advocate for people’s mental health being one of the most important things to take care of, as I have experienced struggles myself but I’ve also seen the devastating impact that poor mental health can have on sufferers and the people around them. I think too often it is overlooked and physical health is prioritised, but actually mental health issues can have a much greater impact on your life than physical ailments.
There are so many things you can add into your day to really make a difference to your overall outlook on life. For me, I get a huge buzz out of exercise and being outdoors, so if I am feeling overwhelmed I find it really beneficial to go for a walk or run to try and clear my head. Obviously this isn’t always practical, so sometimes it’s a case of putting on some loud music and either having a good sing or just feeling your emotions through the music.
I rely on music heavily for my own personal mental wellbeing, for therapy but also for my enjoyment and release away from the daily grind. Before Covid I would go to an average of 15 gigs per year, and until this enforced break I hadn’t realised how much I relied on that to keep my mental health in check. That feeling of the lights going down when you’re packed in a crowd with an overpriced beer and sweaty people crammed all around you…and the 2 hours that you spend entirely consumed by the music and all of your problems are forgotten about while the band are on stage. That’s something that I have always valued, but having the longest period without a gig since I started going to them (18 years ago) has really made me reflect on this being a huge part of my mental wellbeing.
What activities do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed or low? Do you curl up with a good book and cup of coffee? Go out to the pub with your friends? Reach out to an online support network? I would be really interested to hear the different ways people deal with negative emotions and feelings, as it is something that people deal with in such varying ways.
I believe the endless posting and scrolling on social media is something that is a huge contributor to poor mental health for so many, and it might not even be something you realise is impacting you. A few years ago I had a period of time with an old comedy phone with no internet, and it really broke the unconscious habit of scrolling to pass by the time. I honestly recommend trying this, or to keep your phone in a different area of the house when you’re relaxing instead of it always being within reaching distance. Remember, you can’t compare your everyday reality to someone else’s highlight reel that they share with their online community.
Social media can be such a positive experience and wonderful way for people to get support, but there are so many damaging emotions associated with it that can really heavily impact mental health. Have you ever found yourself scrolling through someone’s photos wishing your life was as good as theirs? Remember you don’t know what’s going on behind those photos, they are just the image that particular person wants to portray to the world. This isn’t the wrong approach at all by the author, I just think it’s important to bear in mind that what you see is very rarely the full picture.
If you ever need to reach out to someone, never hesitate because you “don’t want to bother them”. That’s what your friends and family are for, and you should never forget that. When you are in a dark hole it’s so easy to talk yourself out of speaking to someone about it, because you’re afraid of showing weakness or you think that your problem isn’t something that should be causing you distress. Those around you will not judge you for opening up to them, and if they do then frankly they’re the type of toxic people that need cutting out of your life anyway.
So on this World Mental Health day, I think it would be great for everyone to pledge an act of kindness. This could be anything from doing some shopping for someone vulnerable in your community, to reaching out and telling someone a trait you’ve always admired about them. In this crazy world we find ourselves in it’s more important than ever to build up our support networks and make sure those around us know they can count on us if they need to.
Remember, it’s okay to not be okay.
As ever, if you want to get in touch to discuss your thoughts on this topic please feel free to email me at email@example.com. Remember there are charities such as MIND and the Samaritans who can support you if you need professional help.
The Female Engineer