It's World Mental Health Day today and as someone who has recovered from anorexia and now works with clients with eating disorders and other addictions, it leads me to think:
Many people are on medication or use substances such as alcohol, drugs, food, etc. to help them get through each day.
When did life become so hard?
Relationships: Happy Ever After films portray a couple falling in love after a few hiccups but then we are left to assume that after the effort of finally getting together, all is rosy and full of love and laughter. Love is never like in the movies. Neither people nor relationships are perfect and we shouldn't think they are or hold such expectations. Couples may take each other for granted and forget why they got together in the first place, why they fell in love. When things get tough it can be easy to quit. But surely the question is would you rather have this person in your life, with these imperfections than not be with them at all? Marriage is like a job, it takes hard work, time, effort and most of all, communication.
Motherhood: Being a mum is the hardest job in the world. So why aren't we respected and appreciated for doing this job particularly as it's unpaid and involves a huge cost to us? At a social gathering, we find ourselves apologising for being 'just a mum' when asked what we do. Women who fought for equal opportunities did a great thing but also put huge pressures on us, as we now find ourselves torn between being a stay at home mum (praised by some) or working (praised by others). We are also torn between our employer, husband and child, trying to perfect in each role, juggling everything till we see stars in front of our eyes. If you're constantly juggling, it's good to prioritise but remember that there is never enough time in the day to do everything and rather than focussing on what you didn't get done and beating yourself up about it, praise yourself for all the things that you did get done.
Body Image: Is it a coincidence that as the models/pop stars have become thinner, we seem to be struggling more with our own body image and our self-esteem? We are bombarded with details of the latest diet and tips to lose weight fast. However, the only effective way to be healthy is to achieve balance: a balanced amount of food and exercise.
I know that some people struggle with this as they are actually using food as a way of coping, to gain comfort, to deal with boredom, to reward themselves. I recommend EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) also known as tapping to help with emotional eating. You could distract yourself for half an hour after eating to see if you are still hungry (or if you're just thirsty) or try another stress management method like yoga, exercise, singing, reading, meditation, having a hot bath or anything you enjoy doing!
Seriously reducing your food intake, leads to deprivation, and then craving and often you end up overeating as a result which makes you feel worse. Remember to eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full, take your time chewing carefully and enjoy each mouthful, and listen to your body to determine what it needs. Remember balance and moderation is the key. In some cases, the term healthy has been taken too far, and restriction has led to eating disorders and it becomes difficult to recognise these full/hungry signals.
Childhood: Most of our learning comes from our parents, from observing their behaviour or comments made. Most parents do their best in terms of raising us but there is no instruction manual so often make mistakes. This is not the parents' fault, they are just going by what they have been taught. However, as we grow up, we need to challenge what we have been taught and question whether what our parents believed is right for us. Sometimes it is, but sometimes not, and we need to adjust our thoughts and behaviours to reflect what is best for us. For example, our parents usually teach us their views regarding money, employment or relationships but this doesn't mean you must believe what they believe. Spend time figuring out who you are, what you think, what you believe and how you want your life to be.
You need to be content with you. You need to accept yourself for the qualities you have and what makes you special. If you're content and confident inside, you'll thrive in life just as you are.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, check out 10 Steps To Feeling Better About Yourself!