BALANCING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH: KEY TO PROTECTING YOURSELF
“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness”- Anonymous.
Mental health and achieving mental equilibrium is often an elusive subject, especially for those who have not experienced it. And “Just because you haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t exist. Research continues to demonstrate that the mind and body are interwoven and continues to influence each other. In staying healthy, one must learn how to release mental tension, anxiety, anger, stress, and grudge; shake it off, or simply walk away especially in this period of global pandemic with total lockdown. Glenn Close said “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”
The fact is we all have a certain degree of pain inside of us, although some persons are better at dealing with it than others. What most people never understand is that unbalanced mental health leads to depression, which is not always because of extraneous variables but arises from within. Sometimes we have feelings of impending doom, other times we may feel alone, but nothing makes us feel more isolated and terrified than anxiety “the fear of the unknown” causing a high level of mental stress in the present moment because we feel tensed, fearful, and sadness which can be overwhelming disarming our ability to cope and participate in our activities, enjoying leisure time, and maintaining relationships.
Mental illness is a mental health condition that gets in the way of relating to others, thinking, feeling and day-to-day activities. Although dozens of mental health illness exist but the most common is anxiety and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD); the former is characterized by fear about current or future events; these feeling may cause physical symptoms, such as a fast heart rate and shakiness. There are several anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder etc. These disorders differ by what resulted in the symptoms and most times people often have more than one anxiety disorder. While the latter simply known as depression, is a mental disorder often accompanied by low self-esteem, loss of interest in normal enjoyable activities, low energy, and pain without a clear cause. Those affected may also occasionally have false beliefs, and see, or hear things that others cannot. Major depressive disorder usually affects a person’s personal life, work life, or education, as well as sleeping, eating habits and general health negatively. About 2–8% of adults who may have major depression often die by suicide.
EFFECT OF THE LOCKDOWN ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
In recent time, one could vividly recall when the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Ministry of Health announced that sanitizers, face masks and gloves could be used to protect one-self against contacting COVID-19 what happened afterward? Most of us did not take chances at all. We blitzed all the available shops and supermarkets. Even when the President of America Donald Trump announced Chloroquine as the clinical solution to COVID-19, many Nigerians overnight bought up all the chloroquine tablets in different city and the price skyrocket. Long before President Buhari announced the first two-week lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and the FCT on the 30th of March, Nigerians had also stockpiled all kinds of eatable and uneatable items. It was worse a day after the Presidential address, a situation which could have quickly escalated to stampede in the markets across the nation , even street corner shops had long queues of persons, buying things they might not need.
In all situations the ability to balance one’s mental health is essential, and cannot be over emphasized. The demerits of self-isolation or social lockdown are symptoms of traumatic stress, confusion, anger etc. all of which are exacerbated by fear of affliction, having limited access to supplies of basic necessities, inadequate information or the experience of economic loss or stigma. This stress and anxiety can lead to high rate of alcoholic consumption, domestic and family violence.
Some people ignorantly see mental health problems as something they should easily “snap out of”. Most especially men they would rather bottle up their feeling than seek help because of societal misconception. Far from what some people think, anyone can suffer from mental or emotional health problems, and if immediate rescue is not taken most of us will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder for a lifetime as a result of this global crisis. Despite how common we regard mental health problems to be, making us overlook or taking it for granted will emotional messages signal our brain telling us something is wrong, and instead of working on it immediately, we try toughing it out by distracting ourselves or resorting to self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or self-destructive behaviors, or bottling up the problem with the hope that others won’t notice. Worst still we assume the situation will eventually improve on its own or we simply give in to telling ourselves that “this is just the way we are or created to be”.
The good news is that you do not have to feel bad or feel alone, efforts can be made to improve the situation. There are yet simply and good practices you can adopt to elevate your mood, become healthier, resilient, and relish life more. Notwithstanding, just as it requires a whole lot of effort to build, nourish, sustain, and maintain good physical health, so it is with mental health. We must make extra effort especially with the prevailing circumstance to ensure strong, stable mental health.
Importance of Good Mental Health
There are several benefits of have a balanced mental state. Having considered how imbalanced mental health affects us, it is worthy of note that a strong mental health is not the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, it is the presence of positive traits, because mental health greatly influences how you think, feel, and behave in your daily life. It also affects your ability to manage stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.
People who are mentally healthy have a sense of contentment, poses the ability to deal with stress, bounce back from adversity, have great sense of purpose in their activities and relationships, have flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to changes, poses strike balance between work, play and rest , and have the ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
Essential Recipe to Maintaining Good Mental Health
- Find your purpose
Discovering your meaning and purpose in life will help you in different ways that will involve benefitting others, as well as yourself. Finding purpose is an essential aspect of life that will help your brain remain health since it will be focused on generating ideas that will help develop new cells and create new neural pathways. It would also strengthen your immune system, alleviate pain, relieve stress, and keep you motivated to pursue your dreams.
- Eat healthy meal
You may not be aware but what you eat affects the way you think and feel. An unhealthy diet can take a toll on your brain, mood, disrupt your sleep, sap your energy, and even weaken your immune system. Conversely, swapping to a wholesome diet that is low in sugar, rich in protein and healthy fats, can give you more energy, improve your sleep and mood, and help you look and feel your best.
Foods that can strengthen your immune include; Fatty fish rich in Omega-3s; salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna
Nuts; walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts etc.
Leafy greens: spinach, kale, etc.
Fresh fruit: blueberries, banana etc.
- Utilize Opportunity for Social Connection
Human beings are social creatures with emotional needs, desiring relationships and friendship with others. You cannot survive, let alone thrive, in isolation because your brain will always crave for companionship even when experience makes you shy and distrustful of others.
The Importance of social connection cannot be overrated, reaching out is not a sign of weakness even if you see it as such. If you feel that you have no one to turn to, there are good ways to build new friendships and improve your support network. The internet and the social media platforms have solve the problems of out of mind and out of sight, so that you can easily resort to it. (LinkedIn, twitter, instagram etc). In the meantime, there is still great benefit to interacting face-to-face with acquaintances or people you encounter during this period, such as neighbors and friends. You can engage in eye contact, friendly greeting, or small talk.
- Do significant things with your time
Do you know that? Constantly checking the COVID-19 updates will probably be demeaning to your mental health? Instead, channel you energy or engage in meaningful tasks; ranging from housework to reading of books, researching, learning skills, writing etc. or finally starting that project you have been unable to dive into,” “Staying engaged in the world allows you to use the more logical parts of your brain, making it less likely for you to dwell on what’s out of your control.
- Keep your sense of humor
Sending messages to your friend, children, colleagues etc, watching really, stupid or silly movies is okay, laughing and easing of the anxiety of any situation, which is beyond your control will help you to stay healthy. It’s unnecessary been very serious over situation that time will eventually take care of.
- Show love no matter how small
Thinking of few people who might need your help now; The homeless, orphan, friends, single mothers, or a brother who just lost his job, aging handicapped parents and spouse, or a child with a physical or mental illness. Reaching out to people you know you could be of help to you at no cost. Giving is an act of kindness, love, and loyalty that can be as rewarding, comforting and fulfilling as doing it.
“For it is in the giving that we receive.” –St. Francis of Assis.
- Ensure to exercise daily
Spend quality time keeping fit; exercise is great and very good for your mental health. Engage in outdoor exercise like, biking, talking a walk, skipping etc.
In conclusion, I believe you now understand the reasons to live and maintain a balanced mental health in this blueprint. All the above remedies should be practiced to achieve maximum results. If you find this blueprint useful, do well to give others of the same similar problems.
Written By: Chinyere Linda Agbasiere
In case you have any comments or advice, you can reach out to me.
Connect with the Author,
Via Email @ [email protected]
Linkedin : Chinyere Linda Agbasiere
Facebook: Chinyere Linda Agbasiere