Positive mental and emotional health is key to feeling human and when things start to go downhill it’s easy to slip into a negative cycle. Sometimes recognising these cycles in ourselves can be tricky and what might feel like simply a bad day, could be the start of a slide into anxiety or depression. If you have friends or family who suffer from challenges to their mental health, being able to recognise when they need an ear, a pick me up or a day focused on their needs can be the difference between slipping into a negative cycle and being able to break free from its grip. This is particularly important for older family members and relations who might struggle with isolation and lack of mobility.
Challenges to our mental and emotional health aren’t ‘new’, they aren’t some modern invention and they are certainly very real, especially to those experiencing it and it’s only due to rapidly developing medical advances that we are beginning to unlock the secrets of the human brain and emotion centre. The stigma against mental health needs to finish and people need safe and supportive spaces in which to share their feelings without concern about how it will affect their relationships, job and quality of life. The more comfortable people feel in sharing their own emotions, the faster we can provide true relief from mental health issues.
Signals of a Mental Struggle
If you are aware a friend or loved one has previously struggled with the emotional or mental health, being aware of their struggle signals is important although shouldn’t take over your own life. We need to find a balance between caring for ourselves and being aware of others and not feel like we are responsible for the actions of others, whatever happens. However, knowing what to look for can make a huge difference in the feelings of someone who might be struggling with their own feelings of isolation. Someone who might be falling into a negative cycle is likely to;
- Avoid eye contact
- Find no joy in their normal hobbies
- Shy away from a prolonged conversation
- Struggle with keeping a regular or healthy diet
Further indications to keep an eye out for can be found on the NHS website.
Tackling Mental Health
Everybody is different and the way we deal with mental health challenges should be tailored to those experiencing it. Simply pushing people into uncomfortable situations in a bid to ‘cure’ their mental health can quickly cause further issues and lead to stress disorders such as PTSD that make recovery even more of an uphill battle. Instead, we need to approach situations in a way that helps long-term rather than hinders or provides short-term solutions that crumble away after time. Encouraging someone into being active is important, even if they just enjoy a walk and talk around the local block, volunteering and supporting a charity can also be good for mental health.
The most important action we can take for someone struggling is usually just to provide a listening ear. Most people that experience challenges to their mental health are aware that sometimes their actions won’t change their external influences but it can be extremely helpful just to be able to share grievances and feel like you have been heard. This is to be heard without fear that someone will take action on their behalf or make further changes they believe to be ‘helpful’ but really just hinders someone’s self-care.
Life can be challenging at the best of times and it can often feel like we have very little control over our own lives. Particularly when we need to work to ensure we have a roof over our head and 2020 has thrown more curveballs than an international cricket match. Now is the time to look out for one another more than ever, especially as the ones who should be considering the greater good of society are focused on their own ignorance and selfish wants. Together we can be the good we all need to live happy, healthy lives without fear of stigma or being forced into situations outside of our ability or comfort.