Today, October 10th World Mental Health Day (WMHD) is celebrated throughout the world. This is a special day for us all – we may know or fear mental health issues, we may have family or friends who are affected. We are just beginning to understand the importance of mental health – no stigma, no crazy jokes – just a loving acceptance of our vulnerability and the impact of our words and thoughts and actions upon each other and upon our planet.
Here at 7Dnews we have taken some time this week to consider three simple questions regarding mental health and we are delighted to share our thoughts and observations. These replies come from women and men from a wide variety of cultures and life experiences, of different generations and speaking different mother tongues, note how united and consistent are the voices.
You will see from the answers from our team that there is no sentimentality – mental health is not about smiling and being cheerful whatever happens or being a bright sunbeam who cheers everybody up. Our respondents are fully grounded and tell us that mental health is about fully accepting just who we are and just how we feel.
What Does Every Day Mental Health Mean to You?
To me, wrote one colleague, every day mental health is the state of well-being in relation to the ability to cope with the stress of life, of depression and of anxiety said one of the respondents.
Another responsewas that good mental health was measured by a good night’s sleep with at least one dream. Also, it could be measured by a good day’s work without toxicity or wedges driven into it followed by a period of relaxation– it could be reading, watching a film, or playing a video game.
Mental health, wrote another, is one of the underappreciated topics in the world, some people disregard the impact of mental illness on physical performance, on mood, on work, on family and on all aspects of life. That is why I really appreciate that there is special WMHD to draw the world’s attention to such a powerful phenomenon and to the importance of taking care of your own mental wellness.
For me, a colleague replied, mental health means that you should be aware of your situation, you should be aware if you have a problem with which you need help or if you have a mental illness. You can observe yourself and your actions, to see if you’re feeling good and satisfied with yourself or if there is something you wish to change and work on.
Hmm, wrote another with piercing honesty, I can say nice positive words, but I choose to say it is a tricky mental set.
Mental health to me, another colleague wrote, is another word for peace of mind and inner peace, unless there is mental disease or illness when medical intervention is needed.
In my opinion, mental health consists of psychological, emotional, and social stability. It is the state a person is in when she or he is satisfied with his or her actions and life in general wrote another colleague.
Another answer was that every day mental health is feeling positive about yourself and about life and getting some real mileage out of each day.
I think it is about controlling my anger, wrote another, and not allowing anything to affect my mood for the rest of the day. If I do not control it, I will be like the leaves of the tree and a light breeze blowing will send me fluttering to the ground.
My every day mental health, said another, is my emotional, psychological, and social state and well-being.
What Do You Do to Keep Healthy and Happy Mentally?
Honestly, wrote one of us, I eagerly wait for the weekend to relax with my family and friends. I spend half the weekend at home and the other half out.
I try to not to lie to myself about what I love and what I hate, wrote another colleague,I exercise, I eat well, and I surround myself only with people whom I love and around whom I feel comfortable.
Every day, I take some time to be alone, away from all the usual daily pressure at work, in the streetand in the disturbing news stories from all over the world. This time out is to read, dance, listen to music or watch a good film.Meeting friends from time to time is also a way of letting off steam as is spending quality time with people I love.
Longer term, I take some time off to travel to new places and to enjoy culture and sightseeing.A long hot bath is also a privilege I enjoy when I get the chance wrote one colleague.
Playing sport, listening to music, taking long walks, eating desserts and having fun with close friends, was the succinct reply of another colleague.
Being activeand keeping a balance between physical and mental activity wrote another.
I used to practise yoga, go hiking and biking but now with so many family commitments, I am only able to listen to soothing music whenever I need to relax, and I read or listen to the Koran whenever I feel distressed. That is all I can manage in my super-hectic daily schedule wrote a busy parent.
I think the key factors which help me to be mentally healthy, wrote another colleague, are finding a positive environment, playing sport, having a hobby, being close to friends, noting daily achievements towards my goals, celebrating my own and other people’s success, savouring happy moments shared with family.
Another colleague wanted to share many vibrant and life-enhancing activities:
I try and eat healthily. Research shows that there is a link between microbes in the gut and mental health, so I take probiotics in the form of kefir, a superior kind of yoghurt.
I walk briskly for 40 minutes most days as exercise is important for mental health.
I meditate for an hour each day. Meditation is an incredibly calming and centring practice.
I try and do things to help others and be warm and encouraging. It makes them feel good and it make me feel good.
I remember to feel grateful for my life.
I try to stay in the ‘now’, while at the same time doing what is needful for the future.
I try to base myself in my body and not be too intellectually based.
I maintain warm friendships.
Another colleague wrote of sitting with my family, watching a film, reading a book listening to music and movingly, “talking with my mother about my day.”
Do well in my work, our last respondent wrote, maintain my social relationships by seeing my friends or calling them, read a new book or watch a new film, eat something I love.
What Mental Health Advice Would You Give to Young People Starting out?
Order makes life easier. Try not to spend all your day at work, otherwise you may lose your home life, which would badly affect your work, advised one colleague.
Absolutely nothing is achieved, wrote another very clearly, without discipline.Taking care of your mind and body is the most important thing you have to focus on, without a good mind and a healthy body you are nothing.
Do not let life’s demands make you ignore your mental well-being. Your psychological health is essential, and if you are suffering, the whole world that you care about will not understand what you are going through, and most of the time it will not care. Some simple actions could save you from drowning in a deep circle of depression, like having a good meal, visiting a breath-taking place, hanging out with your friends, or listening to your favourite music. Do not ignore your mental well-being, you are your own best friend and your everlasting mate.
¬Happiness blooms from within wrote a poetic colleague, love yourself first and think positively.
Well, responded another, play sport, educate yourself, cherish your soul, to recalibrate and restore the balance once more :)
“Now I have a lot to say in this part, as I'm now in my early forties and regret not having done a lot of things,” said a passionate colleague, a parent of precious ‘young people’:
• Eat well, eat well, eat well! To stay well, healthy food that is rich in vitamins and high in antioxidants are a must. As the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It is also said that walnuts, that look so much like the brain, are very important for mental health
• Manage your time and always leave some time for yourself, totally for you, in every plan you make
• Enjoy yourself! If you love music, listen to it. If you like to sit absent-mindedly in front of the sea, do it. If you like to go biking, fishing, working out, just do it
• Play sport, whether individual or collective sports. Each has its own advantages
• Stay positive: avoid people who emit negative energy
• Read human development books that boost your willpower and give you ideas on well-being. ‘The Secret’ and ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ are two of the books I highly recommend
• Have absolute faith in God and always bear in "mind", that what is meant to happen will happen, just fulfil your duties and leave the rest for God to handle
Follow your dreams another wrote in response to the third question, do not compare yourself to others, read more interesting books, exercise and have a healthy lifestyle and always develop yourself.
Suggesting that young people follow all the advice in answers to question two, this respondent added the following special recommendations for youngsters setting off on the path:
• Try not to think negatively about yourself. Instead, when things go wrong, think constructively about changes in your life.
• Tell yourself when you have done something good.
• Find a purpose that really means something to you and focus on it.
• Find interests that you really enjoy, that way you will find people you can connect with.
• Bear in mind that ultimately “It’s not about you.” There are stars out there!
Be cool, that favourite young person’s phrase, whatever happens, was the advice from another colleague.
Don't let yourself get depressed, always look for something you can do that makes you happy, and do not give up there's always a bright side in every situation.
I hope that you agree that these testimonies are life-affirming and joyful. Our young people are lucky to be guided by such thoughtful, caring souls, parents, friends and mentors.
Whatever stage of the path we are on, there are sensitive people of faith and good will who are open to share, to listen, to advise, to cry and to laugh with us.
Each one of us has so much power to help and to guide and to support each other, there are not enough hours in the day to fulfil our true potential.
I hope that like me you cannot wait to start living the rest of your life, with gratitude to my wonderful colleagues here at 7D and in wonder at the mystery that is Life.