We are about to hit 2021 very soon and this year’s collective resolution should be to ensure a mentally healthy lifestyle. Mental health should be a domestic concern and we all should be responsible for making it a necessity as physical health. Why is the treatment for mental health issues still viewed as a luxury yet our physical health is often prioritized? Isn’t our brain a part of our body? A wholesome body means a healthy system, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. Complete health is not exclusively physical.
If you ask someone close to you about their day, most of them would answer something close to being ‘drained at work’, ‘stressed at work’, or ‘exhausted by the pressure’ at work. Some of your close friends might have even complained about a dysfunctional family that they have to come back to after dealing with an extremely ‘manipulative and controlling’ boss at work. If you look around yourself and into your own life, you will notice mental suffering prevailing in all forms. While being mentally unhealthy degrades the quality of our lives as much as being physically unwell we often neglect mental health. This doesn’t solve anything. Instead, it takes us a step closer to infirmity.
Mental health doesn’t only mean being free of mental diseases or disorders, rather it means a state of complete emotional and cognitive well-being. It includes being able to effectively deal with daily problems that come our way, being self-aware, and inculcating self-compassion. Mental health is how we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us. The responsibility of a healthy mind is on all of us and not just on the professionals. We might not be equipped with the expertise of a professional but we are human beings with the capacity to love, empathize, be kind, and heal others. People suffering from disabling mental disorders need to seek professional assistance. But there are many people whose day to day mental health is ensured by their interpersonal relationships with others and themselves. So many of us don’t have an accomplice to share our daily thoughts to or unburden ourselves at the end of the day. For most of us, household, interpersonal, and workplace stress build-up without having a proper release. We keep suppressing our emotions anticipating the best but those emotions never get channelized. Later, these suppressed emotions come out in uglier ways.
Kindness is contagious
This world is in dire need of kindness and love. There is so much toxicity, hatred, and negativity all around that it becomes difficult to keep our minds healthy. Time is short and there is so much to achieve. We all are running a rat race. We need to pause and restart, for ourselves and for others.
We often forget that:
1. Both negative and positive emotions are natural and there is no shame in displaying them in ways that are not harmful to one and to others.
2. Like you, others too have emotions, needs, flaws, their own stories, their experiences, and belief systems which are valuable to them. Respect the differences, accept the uniqueness, and treat others like you want to be treated.
3. We all have the capacity to be empathetic, kind, and loving. When you offer some of it to others, it comes back to you in doubles. When you show kindness to others, you are accumulating kindness for yourself.
4. Listening to other troubled souls speak, being a pillar for others when they hit rock bottom might take a lot of mental energy on your part but this selfless act might help someone else feel heard today. Your care might bring hope for a better tomorrow for them.
5. We too need kindness, love, and acceptance. We forget to be self-compassionate, to prioritize our needs, to give our mind and body the rest it needs, to detoxify our life, to engage in self-care, to discover ourselves, to forgive and be gentle with ourselves.
6. This world could be a better place to live in and it starts with you, me, and all of us; not with them. To begin somewhere is to begin now and within oneself.
Tell your story
We all have personal stories of suffering, grief, pain, and resilience. The journey of our lives is seldom smooth. Roads till the end are filled with surprises and not all of them are exciting. But by giving some of our understanding to others, we can make a huge difference in their lives and ours too. When we lighten someone’s mood up, help them overcome pain, we feel included and wanted. We feel like we can make a difference. This promotes healthy relationships and creates a positive and warm environment for mutual mental support.
Narratives have immense revolutionary power. Tell your healing story. Tell your story of resilience. No matter how small your accomplishment might seem, you never know where, when, and how it might provide the needed strength to someone else to stand up for themselves. Real-life stories are relatable, inspiring, and enlightening to many people out there. Stories bring people together and make them feel less alienated. Survivors of abuse might find it undemanding to open up in a trustworthy, closed group of people with similar experiences. It is utterly necessary to feel accepted and know that mental health issues are extremely commonplace and it is not embarrassing to come out with one’s vulnerabilities. It is in vulnerable moments that we unearth our strengths. Stories of triumph give assurance to people who are still in the process of healing from trauma or abuse. It gives them hope of an optimistic tomorrow.
When we remember to treat others with respect, make others feel worthy, and value them for who they are we automatically create an environment conducive to a healthy mental state for each of us. What we essentially do for others is what we wish for ourselves.