Have you ever felt overcome by raw, intense emotions? The ones that stop you in your tracks, feet glued in place, palms sweating, heart pounding, breath caught in your throat…
I think we’ve all been there. I know I certainly have! (I actually lived there for a while thanks to Graves Disease)
But what do we do if those feelings come visit us more often? What if they seem to stick around? Or start to affect our everyday lives?
Often, our main instinct is to grit and bear it and just try and get through. But it really shouldn’t be that way.
Your mental well-being matters! Just as much as your physical health.
You deserve to feel well. And you also deserve to be able to reach out for help when you need it. Be it for a throat infection or anxiety or anything else.
But how can we better support our mental health? What steps can we take to feel better? And are there ways to recognize when we need outside help?
These are questions we all deserve the answers to. So I invited the wonderful Heather Leguilloux, a therapist and mental health blogger, to talk to us about just that. And, oh boy, does she ever have some awesome tips for us! Let’s dive in…
Before we get started…
I wanted to take a moment to stress to you that your mental wellness matters just as much as your physical health. In fact, those two beautiful things are connected! When one falters the other often trips with it. They deserve to held at equal importance.
And there’s no shame in experiencing a mental health concern.
Not convinced? Look at it this way. It’s safe to say that most of us have experienced indigestion at some point in our lives, right? Our digestive organs sometimes have an off day. It’s totally normal.
And some of us experience more extreme digestive health issues. Sometimes they come and go, sometimes they last a lifetime and sometimes they require dietary restrictions, frequent medical intervention and even medication to manage. And all of that is ok. Because you deserve to feel well. No one would judge us for any of that.
Well, your brain, my sweet friend, is an organ too. And it deserves the same respect, care and love as your digestive system and the rest of that gorgeous body of yours. Whether you experience an off day, a mental health concern that comes and goes or something that sticks around and needs some extra support.
With that in mind, I was so excited to host Heather, a therapist, mental health blogger and creator of heatherleguilloux.ca, a site dedicated to your mental health and well-being, to talk to us. Heather is so incredibly kind and supportive. And she’s super passionate about mental health. Who better to help us feel more comfortable with this topic, am I right?
I hope you’re as excited as I am! Grab a warm tea (or smoothie if you’re a hot drink hater like I am), get yourself a cozy blanket and get comfortable. This post is extra important.
Take it away Heather!
Fact: Approximately 1 out of 5 people in America are living with a serious mental health concern. (source)
Taking care of our health is a typical and important practice that many people actively engage in. From visiting the doctor for regular check-ups to focusing on healthy living and maintaining an active lifestyle. Another area of our lives that we should be focused on taking care of, but sometimes fall short on dedicating our time to, is our mental health.
You’ve likely heard the term ‘mental health’ before reading this article, but if not, or if you need a quick refresher, let’s go over a quick definition before we continue.
According to mentalhealth.gov:
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
This article will explore five reasons to start taking better care of your mental health. And we’ll take a look at the potential positive outcomes of dedicating time and energy to making our emotional well-being a priority.
5 Things That Happen When You Prioritize Your Mental Health
1. You Recognize Your Concerns
Consider the last time you went to the doctor. Perhaps it was because of a sore throat that just seemed to linger and/or progressively got worse. And this pain triggered your mind to find a solution to start feeling better. Going to the doctor is a typical decision we make when we need help with our physical well-being.
But what is the typical response when someone experiences poor mental health?
Unfortunately, the reality is that most of the time people aren’t reaching out for help with mental health concerns. Sometimes we even dismiss these concerns and just try to ‘get through’, often on our own.
Imagine this scenario: A person is experiencing worsening anxiety in their everyday life. The feeling of nervousness seems to come out of nowhere and goes hand-in-hand with sweaty palms, racing thoughts, and a quickened heart rate. This is the first time this individual has experienced a concern with their mental health. And these symptoms are very scary for them… but they’re not sure where to turn for help.
This scenario is actually a lot more common than you might think. And, sadly, it can cause us to feel embarrassed or ‘abnormal’ for experiencing these feelings. The embarrassment can lead many of us to keep these concerns to ourselves, rather than reach out for help.
In reality, anxiety is one of the most frequent mental health concerns in society. So this experience is actually quite common and very treatable.
When we prioritize our mental health we learn to recognize when we aren’t feeling well. Being able to recognize that a mental health concern is happening can help us make the decision to ask for help. Just like we would in the sore throat scenario.
2. You Get to Know Yourself
Remember when you were about 6 years old and someone asked what you wanted to be when you grew up? Chances are you gave an answer that is totally unrelated to the person you have grown to be (although maybe you did grow up to be a rockstar, you never know!) You knew who you were without question back then. But things have changed.
The process of getting to know yourself spans your entire lifetime. This is because we are continuously changing and growing as people. Knowing ourselves is important and it also allows us to be more connected with our mental health.
The benefits connecting with your mental health are plenty and can include:
- Feeling comfortable asking for help when you need it (eg. talking to a trusted friend)
- Being familiar with your strengths (eg. building close connections with others)
- Identifying areas of potential growth (eg. allowing yourself to focus on self-care)
One strategy of being able to know yourself and your mental health better is to discover your core values. These values are unique to each of us. They consist of the beliefs, ideas, and concepts we have about ourselves and the world around us. Core values can help to clarify current priorities in life and focus on what’s more important.
Also read: How to Identify Your Personal Core Values
3. You Take the Steps to Start Feeling Better
Like we talked about earlier, having a better understanding of our mental health and any concerns that might surface in this area of life can help us begin the process of feeling better.
There are times when mental health concerns may be related to a situation that happened in life, like experiencing a loss. Depending on the severity of the grief an we experience (which can be different for every person), we may start feeling better over time and on our own.
However, sometimes it can be important for us to have help to start feeling better.
Some options of support include:
- A trusted friend or loved one
- Mental health or crisis helpline
- Medical doctor (general practitioner)
- Counsellor or mental health professional
- Support group or wellness program
- In-patient mental health facility or hospital
- Out-patient or mobile mental health support
It’s important to remember there is always help available, regardless of the mental health concern you may be experiencing.
Taking the first step to reach out, letting someone know what’s happening and asking for help can be a courageous decision. And it can also help us get the ball rolling and start feeling better.
Likewise, the more that people reach out for mental health reasons, the more it will become the norm to get help. Just like being able to confidently step into the doctor’s office when a health issue arises.
Also read: 7 Invaluable Self-Care Blog Posts
4. You Develop Stronger Relationships
So far we have explored how helpful it can be to recognize that a mental health concern is happening. As well as the process of being able to know yourself more and reach out for support so you can start feeling better.
Hopefully these are compelling enough reasons for you to start taking better care of your mental health. But another great outcome can be having stronger relationships.
Whether you consider yourself an introvert and like being by yourself most of the time, or an extrovert who enjoys being around others and at the center of attention, we all have connections with others in our lives. Experiencing mental health concerns can lead to difficulties like isolation, miscommunication, or even relationship breakdowns.
Like we discussed earlier, having a better sense of who you are and knowing your core values can help you to have a better understanding of yourself. And this can lead to being more open and curious about the world and others around you. This changes how you connect with people, allowing you to more fully engaged and present in the moment.
5. You Create a Support Network
Mental health concerns can happen to anyone, at any stage of life. It’s also normal to experience a mental health issue such as depression, have support to work through these concerns, feel okay for awhile, and experience another bout of depression at another point in life. And that’s okay!
There are many different reasons for the onset of mental health concerns, and having a support network in place can help you to not feel alone when difficult moments arise.
Consider the people in your life that you trust and have a meaningful connection with. Write their names and contact information down so that it’s easy for you to remember to reach out when you recognize mental health becoming an issue for you.
I hope these five reasons to take better care of your mental health start you on a journey to discover the state of your own mental well-being. And that you feel inspired to continue finding your own reasons to focus on your emotional wellness.
(This is Sara taking back the wheel!) Thank you so much for sharing your these awesome mental health support tips with us Heather! Wasn’t this helpful guys?! It’s so important that we continue to discuss and prioritize our mental health. Talking about this is so powerful and good for all of us.
Don’t forget – there is no shame in seeking outside help when you need it! Almost everyone experiences mental health related difficulties in their life (this lady included). And when that happens we can all benefit from therapy when we need it. Sometimes seeking help is the kindest and most loving thing that we can do for ourselves.
Online therapy is even an option.
If you’d prefer speaking to a counselor online, BetterHelp.com may be the perfect option for you. They offer affordable, private online counseling and provide access to licensed, trained, experienced, accredited psychiatrist and therapists. They even help match you with the right counselor. A little extra support like this can help to make all the difference.
How do you prioritize your mental health? Are they any benefits to prioritizing your mental well-being that you would add to the list? Share your lovely thoughts with us in the comments below.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: Your mental health matters. There is never any shame in seeking outside help! Reaching out when you need it is courageous and a beautiful form of self-love.
About Heather Leguilloux:
Heather is a therapist and mental health blogger from British Columbia, Canada. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge about mental health, wellness, and health-related topics. Heather provides professional, clinical, and freelancing services in a range of settings and also creates digital mental health products. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting her website at www.heatherleguilloux.ca.
You can find her goodness right here:
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