What you need to know about mental health.
Mental Health is a hot topic and rightly so. We learn to take care of our bodies from a young age but not necessarily our mental health. This article is going to explain what mental health is, how to look after yours while identifying causes and triggers.
what Is mental health?
Mental health is an umbrella term that encompasses our emotional wellbeing, our thought processes and our responses to the world around us, including ourselves.
Emotional wellbeing is characterised by how we feel on a day to day basis. For some, this is being in a relaxed happy state more days than not in a week and for others, they experience emotional exhaustion, low concentration and low or bad mood. Sometimes, people experience a myriad of these emotions but it all has an impact on our thought processes, the internal patterns we develop and the things we tell ourselves.
Our thought processes are also an aspect of mental health and these are categorized into two parts; the messages we reinforce or develop into a pattern and the way we talk to ourselves. A person experiencing good mental health will be confident, relaxed and optimistic while a person experiencing negative mental health will be more critical of themselves and others, feel discouraged and may lack the energy to perform day to day tasks. How we feel often influences the way we think about ourselves and the world around us.
The things we experience shape who we are as individuals and whether it is negative, positive or a combination of the two, influences the way we feel and think of a situation, event or person (this is called personal bias). This is where our emotions and thoughts combine and that is lumped into one thing: our overall mental health. There is another aspect to mental health that predetermines a person’s state of mental health and that is nature versus nurture.
In the nature versus nurture theory, nature is organic and passed along in genes and nurture is behaviour that is shaped by our environment and the people in it. When a person with a history of mental illness has a child there is a possibility that the child will develop the same or similar condition, though it doesn’t happen in every single case – this is nature.
When a person, particularly a child, is exposed to a persistent pattern of the type of behaviour from an authority figure within their environment, they replicate the behaviour as correct (even if it isn’t) and this behaviour influences how they come to think and feel about the world around them and themselves – this is nurture.
taking care of our mental health
When it comes to taking care of our mental health we have to take a number of steps to put the idea into motion and for that, we need self-reflection.
Self-reflection is the process where we recognize our feelings, thoughts and behaviour in retrospect and what causes them, particularly if certain negative feelings keep occurring regardless of their intensity or you find yourself behaving in ways you or others find uncomfortable.
Some negative emotions are caused by working in stressful jobs or around unpleasant individuals and being in such an environment can trigger strong emotional responses. These negative emotions may be built into our internal processes by being exposed to a negative environment or person. over time and they can develop triggers.
Triggers can be carried over to other situations. When we hear a repeat message, especially from a recurring figure in our lives, we sometimes lose sight of ourselves and believe what they are telling us insomuch we internalize the message and act on it, even if that message isn’t true.
Where there is no identifiable cause for negative feelings and thoughts, it is common to presume a mental disorder may be in effect such as depression.
The most important way to take care of and improve our mental health is to show ourselves, love. Self-care is an act of love we show to ourselves and it requires self-reflection too because we need to know that what we are doing is having a positive impact on our mental health.
If it doesn’t, it should be discontinued. Consider how you speak to other people. Would you be polite to them and kind, or would you be mean and nasty? No to the latter, right?
So, why then, would you treat yourself as such? The only true way to improve your mental health is by changing how you speak to yourself.
Whether you are negative or moody or harsh with criticism or too forgiving of other peoples transgressions, speak to yourself how you would others: with respect, politeness and kindness. You don’t deserve anything less.
If you are experiencing negative mental health and you’re struggling to change your internal patterns, it is strongly advised you speak to your doctor. Once you have described your symptoms to them, they can either refer you for counselling, psychotherapy or start a course of medication.
Ultimately, the change starts inside and no one outside can fix that but you. Be the compassionate, caring parent on the inside to nurture positive mental health in yourself.