Do you value your mental health the same as your possessions?
I have supported a number of individuals over the years and probably the most common belief is “I’ll never get better," or “I’m hopeless. Nothing will ever change.” Oftentimes, events in life have clouded our vision with the idea that nothing can improve and we must accept things as they are in life. It is an unfortunate feeling and negative thinking can be quite an attractive thing, luring you to continuously feel there is no way back to feeling better. For most of us, there was a time in life we recall that was happy and productive and we strive to get back that feeling that everything is going well. Depending on how long you have suffered with anxiety, depression, anger, etc, it can feel as though there is no recovery.
Part of the problem we experience is the lack of value we place on our mental health. What is most interesting, if you stop to think about it, there are probably a number of possessions in your life that you dedicate to taking care of and ensuring that they are well protected- our investments, our “stuff”. Our cars require a great deal of maintenance to ensure longevity of use, our jewelry is given a safe spot to rest when not being worn, even the dishes we eat from tend to get better constant care than our own mental health. Why does mental health get tossed aside?
Some of the reasons may be a traumatic event blindsided us and we find it challenging to get our footing back again. Or perhaps a situation, a bad relationship, has slowly worn us down without even realizing it until months and years later when we learn we can no longer cope as we had in the past. It’s actually quite easy to neglect mental wellness as it does not have a physical state that we can see that stands as a reminder for maintenance.
I like to equate mental health to a home. Generally a stable home has a foundation- mental health requires a good foundation as well- our core. A home requires maintenance- garbage does not walk itself out of our homes- we tend to it so we can keep our environment clean. The “garbage” of our mental health can be the intrusive thoughts, the excessive anger we might hold, and the relentless anxiety that surrounds our everyday. Are you holding onto extra garbage in your mental health? Perhaps you need to evaluate how important your mental health is? By making that evaluation, if there is a need for improvement, you now have a starting point. From there you can consider your options for creating a better life.
Exercise, physical movement, can sometimes shake things up in a positive way. Yoga is beneficial for developing more mindfulness. Eating balanced meals, improving nutrition- sometimes as simple as just drinking an adequate amount of water may make a difference. Developing a healthy sleep/wake cycle can drastically change your mood. Again, it’s placing value on your mental health- and mostly, yourself. By making a commitment to place more value on your mental wellness you may see that making small changes can help bring you closer to the person you want to be. It’s not a cure-all but it’s a start. Remember, with your home, your possessions, your vehicles, etc, it takes a combination of things for upkeep. A vehicle requires oil changes, tire rotations, gas, windshield wiper fluid and so forth. A home requires cleaning- rooms, floors, dishes, garbage, and sometimes even the exteriors need some tender-loving-care.
If you find that fine-tuning things in your life have not made a considerable change in how you are feeling, it may be time to consider an option working with a therapist. Many times people may shrug off the idea of getting assistance and support from another individual due to cost with a therapist. (Let’s not forget that this is part of the investment you make.) You may have the fortune of having great supports in your life that can only carry you so far. Another option to consider, if you need someone understanding but may not need a therapist- there may be support groups dedicated to your specific needs, such as grief and loss, divorce, and parenting groups. (Take note, if you are requiring more than what the group can provide it may be recommended that you seek individual therapy.)
Allow yourself some time to think about how important your mental health is if things are not going well. Do the favor of asking yourself- “How much do I value my mental health? Have I been taking care of my emotional self?”
Sheilagh is an Artist and Art Therapist who believes in healing with art and creativity.