You’ve probably heard of this one before, but you should always take extra care of yourself. You should do things that you love, be in the company of those who love you and continue to love yourself in everything you do. And while all these things are important and are salient to one’s health, there are times when it’s hard to feel love, let alone express it.
That’s why conversations about mental health awareness are crucial. Navigating around the bitter realities of mental health is just as important as campaigning about its nice and pretty parts. It’s high time for everyone to accept that the first step to promoting positive mental health is forgetting that it’s always going to be positive.
You’re not always going to feel okay. You’re not going to be strong every time. There will be instances when things will seem bleak and you’ll feel hopeless, but embracing these feelings is the start of being in touch with your mental health.
And with the fast-paced world of today, mental health awareness has become all the more important. To help you out, here are ways how you can promote positive mental health for yourself and the people around you.
- Normalize Mental Health Awareness
In the past, the primary hurdle of mental health awareness was the lack of proper research and information around it. Since misconceptions around it had infested the lay people’s narrative, mental health issues were left buried beneath a mountain of naysays and misinformation. Not until the father of Psychology, Wilhelm Wundt, pioneered the establishment of the Institute for Experimental Psychology at the University of Leipzig in 1879 that psychology had finally gained the traction it deserves.
The major takeaway from this is that awareness plays a huge part in campaigning for mental health. It’s important to open up avenues and safe spaces for people to sit down and talk about their mental well-being without fear of misjudgment and prejudice.
By creating wider and safer spaces for everyone, people can become more open when talking about things that were considered atypical before. Fortunately, the world is now beckoning towards that direction, evident in the amount of research from the community and diverse and inclusive mental-care institutions like Jackson House and a lot more.
You can very well nurture a safe space around you when you’re with others, or even if you’re all by yourself. Do this by acknowledging bias, bad habits, and unlearning microaggressive remarks that can hinder people from opening up. Fostering an accepting and inclusive air around you may encourage others to follow suit, therefore furthering the advocacy for mental health awareness.
Also, normalizing mental health means eradicating the stigma that has overshadowed the campaign for decades. What exactly this means is becoming less prejudiced against people with mental health issues and being open to education, especially about mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and many more.
And most importantly, always remember that a person is more than just their diagnosis. That underneath it is a human being that deserves all the love and affection just like everyone else.
- Be Gentler To Yourself
Getting married, having kids, owning a car, having your own house and lot, among many others, are just some of the common goals that society expects you to reach. While setting goals is not exactly bad, pressuring yourself too much to reach them at a certain age may cause burnout, anxiety, and other stress-related problems.
This is not to say that dreaming or setting a goal is bad. In fact, goal-setting is believed to be linked with higher chances of success. However, too much of anything is bad, and being so sternly affixed with your goals may lead you to overlook the most important factor of all: your health. And this includes your mental health.
That’s why you need to take regular breaks. Listen to good music, finish a book, binge-watch a series, or do whatever that can momentarily make you feel relaxed. It’s important to know when to stop, and while you’re teeming with vigor to reach your goals, staying mentally and physically healthy should be your topmost goal or it would be all for naught.
Moreover, life is not all about butterflies and bees. Sometimes, the road will be rocky and that’s okay. It can be frustrating, weakening, and may seem like all hope is lost, but always remember that hiccups are normal and that you should embrace them. That weakness is an integral part of everyone as much as their strengths.
- Own Up To Your Shortcomings
Celebrating your imperfection is not just mere sophistry. Being more accepting of yourself—your losses and your weaknesses—can make you become more comfortable with yourself. And when you’re comfy with this side of you, you’ll then realize that appearing ‘weak’ and accepting this part of you is normal.
There’s a known link between a healthier mental well-being among people who wholeheartedly embrace the negative aspect of their emotions. Embracing this side helps you process it and face it head-on, instead of developing unhealthy habits such as ruminative thinking and bottling it up.
Having said that, it’s not unhealthy to modify some of your traits, especially if they’re already affecting others negatively. There’s still a line that needs to be drawn between your own weakness and your toxic behavior.
Toxic behaviors usually foster a negative, non-accepting, and judgmental space around you, which could affect your relationship with others and potentially damage your mental health further.
- Find A Safe Space
Opening up can be pretty intimidating at first. There’s the fear of being judged, being ignored, or even the anxiety of being disbelieved. It’s easy for people to downplay a problem, especially when they think that they could’ve done something differently to make the outcome better.
Worse, some people could go as far as blaming you—even if you’re the victim. Many people might think that you’re just making things up. That you’re just overreacting, or you’re just feigning it to gain attention.
Be that as it may, there are invalidating remarks that may be unintentional. Statements such as ‘you should not overthink’ or ‘you shouldn’t worry about it’ may come across as invalidating, despite the speaker wanting to comfort you by implying that you’re more than your struggles. Or that you’re strong and you can do it.
However, this indicates how deeply-ingrained invalidation is when it comes to the practice of comforting other people. Since many people are unaware of how to properly impose self-validation, they struggle to emotionally validate others as well.
But always remember that you, just like everyone else, are entitled to your own feelings. The fact that you’ve gotten upset about something means it matters and that your feelings are real. All emotions, reactions, and feelings are absolutely valid.
However, it is important to identify a safe space where you can let all these negative emotions and thoughts out. A safe space is where you can freely open up your frustrations and concerns without the fear of being ridiculed, doubted, or disbelieved.
A ‘safe space’ could be a trusted friend, partner, or family member who would act as a confidante. But if you are not confident about opening up your vulnerabilities to the closest people in your life, you can seek support groups in your community or talk to a therapist who will not just help you process negative emotions but will find ways to help you cope in a healthy manner.
- Practice Emotional Validation
Contrary to popular belief, emotional validation is not just being agreeable of anyone and their problems. As a matter of fact, emotional validation pertains to the act of ensuring someone that their problems and reactions are real.
Aside from this, emotional validation also covers helping yourself or others process emotions. Sometimes emotions can be disconcerting, especially when it is a mixture of guilt, anxiety, anger, sadness, and frustration. Through emotional validation, you can help other people recognize what they feel, which may even lead to more realizations about their situation and emotions.
It’s important to understand how emotions work since it’s one of the ways humans communicate. Processing emotions and situations usually involve understanding what invoked such feelings, when does it usually shows, how it manifests, and the like. This makes it possible for people to process emotions in a healthy way.
Promoting positive mental health starts with you. Understanding what it is and what it’s not is the front and center of the advocacy for mental health awareness. By incorporating the best practices for taking care of your mental health, you experience firsthand how to navigate around your feelings and emotions in a healthier way.
Also, by fostering a non-judgmental and accepting disposition about yourself, you eradicate unhealthy mental-care habits that can hamper your overall well-being. You also become more inclusive and understanding of others’ struggles, creating a positive ripple effect.
Recognizing and embracing both the positive and negative aspects of mental health can help you become more comfortable with your own skin and be in touch with your inner self. Owning up to your mistakes, recognizing your own toxic behavior, identifying safe spaces, and practicing emotional validation will help you and others promote positive mental health.