There's a stigma going around; it's called mental health and people rarely talk about it or give it any credence until they find themselves in a bit of a mental 'pickle' and can associate with the sometimes devastating effects. Anxiety is one of the most persistent mental health disorders, more common even than depression. Experts say that four people in every 100 will have an anxiety disorder.
Just recently, I was overjoyed when the BBC aired some interesting programmes related to mental health. They seemed to come out of the blue! As an active follower of the Mental Health Foundation (www.mentalhealth.org.uk) I am a keen psychologist, studying how we can get the most from our lives. Through my interest in the Foundation which represents research and ideas spanning 60 years, I discovered their annual Mental Health Awareness Campaign, scheduled this year from 16th to 22nd May. According to the Foundation and the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, (2008) 50% of women with perinatal mental health problems are not identified or treated, costing the UK economy £8.1b.
Now, regardless of the ever-changing statistics and what stage of life we're at in any one moment, it's important that we responsibly address our own mental health and the impact we have on our friends and family members. Often, there doesn't seem to be much support or we are harshly judged for our actions. What does it take to understand someone who is finding it difficult to understand themselves? Patience, love and strength of character. Oddly, many of us are so busy rushing around, we may not have realised that in fact we are or we know the very people that need to be understood!
Having experienced poor mental health in part because I struggled when I became Co-Guardian to a 10 year old family member who lost his Mum to Cancer, I have travelled down the path of researching why certain issues have affected me. I can honestly say that the past 5 years have been painful and yet eminently fruitful. I'm in a better position now to parent and be in a loving relationship, with compassion and tenderness as opposed to frustration. I consider myself lucky to have found the resourcefulness to conduct my research. For some this isn't possible.
The subject of mental health is desperately trying to break through our protective armour. Why? Because in actual fact, we will all experience a mental health issue at some time in our life. It's time we all realised it's natural. The word 'Mental' has become a derogatory term, yet it's clear we need to change and challenge social etiquette in this area. As a female carer, partner and earner, I've begun to open my mind to modern day challenges and lift the lid on how we can improve our coping mechanisms with a few tweaks. Trust me, as someone who has turned their life around, there are solutions that work.
I've been conscious of a range of issues I've experienced which are directly related to 'overwhelm', the cause of many a woman's irritation. Identifying the cause beneath the cause in order to dilute the myriad of effects can be disheartening and time-consuming; there are often more layers to explore than you realise. However, going deep within my mind and heart to discover who I really am has been the one tool that has truly provided results. What hurdles have been there for my growth? What hurdles hold me back? I've been amazed by what I've uncovered.
For instance, anger and frustration can actually be diluted by nurturing and being compassionate for our self as well as others. What does this look like in reality? For me it started by building a relationship with myself, as I realised I was dysfunctional. My duel-personality switched based on what was going on outside of me; my environment. I needed to understand my challenges and how to overcome them. I felt an urgent need to know what - or who - was driving me. Amazingly, I learned to like myself.
So how do you start? Know thyself; your innermost thoughts, feelings and dreams. Have you shelved a dream you once had? Have some compassion for that lost dream; perhaps re-addressing it will light you up.
Do you take time out of your busy day to nurture yourself? It's one of the most effective measures to being at peace that you will find anywhere. Often, we end up in a meltdown because we're at the end of our tether; we're just too tired to deal with anything else. This is when frustration can lead to anger resulting in a fallout or mental breakdown. Though you can't turn the clock back, it's never too late to move forward. You can start right now with baby steps! For a busy woman, I believe it's mandatory; leave it to chance and it may not happen. Set aside some quality time and relax in a Himalayan salt bath, go for a walk, read, get a massage, or sleep. Really, anything you can do to relax your mind and body will help. It will ease your mental strain, lift you up and prepare you for your next challenge.
Over the coming weeks, I'm going to cover a variety of mental health challenges as well as measures that are effective in both the reduction of mental strain and the raising of spirits; all natural of course. I hope you'll stay with me if your focus is improving your life, or the lives of those who matter to you.