That dreaded phrase that we hear over and over again. MENTAL HEALTH. Why does that term make us cringe somewhat? Lack of understanding perhaps? Mental health is NOT mental illness.
Mental health is where we want our minds to be… this is the good place to be. So mental health is a positive phrase that we need to make part of our lives.
Today is declared World Mental Health Day… October 10th. Today we need to feel 10/10 on this 10th day of the 10th month. Let’s extend that… and learn all that we can about good mental health. We can also be aware that sometimes life gets too tough… feelings of overwhelm can take over… leading us into depression or anxiety.
In Australia, 1 in every 5 people are affected by mental illness, yet so many people do not seek help because of the associated stigma attached. We must all drop this perception and shed a more positive light on mental health.
If you had a broken leg, a gash that needed stitches, or an unknown rash… you would seek medical help without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable. If you need some help with your mind or thinking processes, seek help… there is no difference. It is our responsibility to the people of our nation to drop this stigma and support everyone regardless of what medical help they need. We can all make a huge difference by talking about it positively.
In the farming industry we are built pretty tough, sometimes show a lack of emotion and live by the “they’ll be right” or “no worries” attitude. The mental health phrase is getting tossed about everywhere we turn at drought support events. The Government is pumping finances in, to support farmers’ mental health. Is that what farmers really need right now? Perhaps… perhaps not.
As a farmer in drought, suffering the physical, emotional and financial strain… life did become too tough for me for a while last year. Life changes and medical conditions piled on top of that, tipped me over the edge. I did seek help starting with my local GP and I was diagnosed with depression/anxiety.
Everything around me proved that I was losing control. This was when I found a way to take back control and to chose to develop a new mindset strategy. I finally understood that we had NO CONTROL over the weather, the forecast… and relatively little control over our own business and finances during this drought.
But we do have control over how we react. When we understand that we control our reactions to certain events, especially when things go wrong… life is easier to accept. Concentrate on those things that you can change.
I chose this option. Hitting rock bottom allowed me to find a new path… I found a new passion and developed a new business as a supplementary income to farming. It keeps me going when I concentrate on good mental health and being proactive and positive… despite sometimes feeling that everything is against the odds.
It is important that we think about prevention rather than cure. But deal with where you are at. If you need help or support, ask for it. Talk to your family… talk to your mate… just talk to someone. Your health, and your family’s health and happiness depend on this.
Each of us deserves to feel 10 out of 10 about our mental health, so today is the day for you to make this happen:
- Take Care of Your Mental Health – Being healthy also means to have good emotional health. We must be mentally healthy to be able to handle the challenges that are presented to us in our lives. We must learn to be resilient and build strategies to move forward.
- Take Care of Your Body – Eat healthy foods to nourish your body, improve your mood and energy levels, making it stronger. Exercise regularly to allow your mind more clarity and your body to become fitter. Ensure you always speak positively about your body with your inner self-talk. Get enough quality sleep to allow your mind and body to heal and refresh every night. Sleeping well helps you to feel energised, allows you to focus and will protect your mental health.
- Embrace Your Emotions – As humans, we are designed to feel different emotions. Sometimes we will feel sad, angry or frustrated. Acknowledge how you feel and be aware of each emotion. Talk about your emotions and then allow yourself to move on, letting new thoughts develop. Don’t dwell in a state of negativity. Learn how to manage all emotions… positive and negative.
- Think Positively – The way we think can have a powerful way of influencing how we feel. Think positively every single day to teach yourself new mindset strategies. When speaking to others, talk about the positive things in your life. You will start to see the positive side a little more, when that is where you place your attention.
- Nurture Your Family and Friends – Form and maintain good relationships with others. Nurture your family and teach your children how to manage through difficult times. Foster your friendships and make a point to meet up regularly for social time. Ensure your relationships are positive and meaningful. Spending time with your pets is also great to help strengthen your mental health and wellbeing.
- Practice Gratitude Every Day – Write down or say something you are grateful for every single day. Anxiety cannot be felt when gratitude is being expressed. If you regularly practice gratitude, your mind will start looking for things to be grateful for daily. This is great for children too. At dinnertime, every family member can say 3 things that they were grateful for today. This holds so much power to cope in challenging times.
- Focus on the Moment – Appreciate the small things in your life. Allow yourself time to see the beauty around you. Don’t get caught up worrying about what could have happened or what might happen. Put strategies in place and keep making decisions. Live in the present moment… not in the past or the future.
- Open Up to Someone – Find someone that you can trust to talk it through… a family member, a mate or your GP. Talking about the tough times as well as the good times will enable you to become more resilient. Attend social events and functions. Share your load… and connect with others… you will probably find the load ‘magically’ becomes less heavy. A mutual understanding becomes very supportive during tough times.
- Good Habits and Routine – It is important that we identify our own routine and be consistent. We need to make an effort to structure our days and priortise our own time. Good habits help us to learn and fuel our minds. Find support if you need to be pointed in the right direction. Keep doing the things that you love to do.
- Take a Break – We are all so time-poor… juggling work, business and family life. Don’t forget about yourself. You can’t be there for anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first. Schedule some time out every week… every day… to focus on something you love. Whether it is a walk in nature, meditation, read a book, listen to music, craft or journalling. Find what it is for you… to be able to relax and re-fuel your mind and body.
Good mental health and well-being will give us a sense of fulfilment and connection with others. It allows us to live our lives in a positive and meaningful way. We become more resilient and can cope with life’s changes and challenges upon our paths.
Take care of yourself and your mates. Accept that it is OK to not feel OK. Seek the support you need and adopt strategies to manage stress and keep you physically and mentally healthy.
Take care, Karen.
“Don’t believe everything you think.
Thoughts are just that – thoughts.”
~ Allan Lokos