There has been a lot of focus on mental health in the last week or so, with Run and Talk week and World Mental Health day, and it made me think about why so many of us have moments when we don’t feel as mentally strong as other times. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve narrowed down the main factors that can knock my own mental stability and how I try to deal with them. They might resonate with you too:
Stress – the fear of having too much to do and not enough time is familiar to most of us but luckily my periods of stress are normally short-lived, as busy periods are followed by quieter periods, so I’m able to catch up. The thought of prolonged periods of stress scares me, as stress often leads to sleepless nights, which in turn affects my moods. I’m also prone to stomach issues like IBS, which are linked to stress, so I really try to keep this in check by not taking on too much work.
Social exclusion – I’m sure we all have this, if we’re on social media, when scrolling through Facebook and we see friends on a night out that we weren’t invited to, it can make us feel a bit upset. Likewise, when we’re not feeling well or a bit short of cash and we see everyonelse seeming to have a great time, it can lead to self doubt. I’ve come to realise that when I’m feeling a bit vulnerable, it can help to keep away from Social Media.
Worry – We all have events that happen which can knock us sideways and make us worry and whilst we can’t always stop these events from happening, we can try to cope by talking about it, going for a run etc.
Illness – the link between physical and mental health is very real and when we’re feeling unwell, the desire to hide away can negatively affect our mental health. At times like this, I read a good book, have a bath, watch an uplifting film, do whatever it takes to get physically and mentally well again.
Comparing ourselves to others – when we see other people seeming to be more successful in their careers or in our hobbies, it can make us feel inadequate, but we need to concentrate on our own lives, as we’re all successful in our own way.
Alcohol – If I drink too much, I tend to sleep badly and then feel tired and low the next day, so I’ve realised that just having a few drinks, is more beneficial these days.
Overtraining – I have been guilty of this in the past and it has affected my mood and adversely affected my performance, so I try to keep this in check now. When I start to feel worn out, I have a rest day.
So, can identifying the triggers that can adversely affect our mental health help us to ensure that we stay mentally well? I like to think so and I hope it can help us to recognise how our actions might affect the mental health of others. Because whilst the consensus this week has been to be kind to ourselves, that it’s ok to not be ok, we also need to extend that kindness to others, as mental health awareness shouldn’t just happen one day a year.