In the grand scheme of life, humans often forget the need to keep a check on their mental well being.
Mental health still doesn’t count as essential or necessary to many cultures and societies.
It is often a taboo in many Indian societies to discuss mental health or to even seek help from a therapist.
What is Mental well-being?
The emotional, social and psychological well being of a person constitutes good mental health.
The ability to carry out day to day activities without feeling overwhelmed and exceptionally pressurized would be a good mental state.
However, in a world of constant change and pressure, one always feels the need to catch up, rush towards a specific goal and compete.
It is almost impossible to not feel lonely, stressed and anxious in the constant struggle to feel whole.
We cannot blame the ever-changing environment around us in which we need to adapt as much as possible.
But that does not necessarily mean that we neglect our feelings and completely lose touch with our inner selves.
Common mental illnesses
Mental illnesses or mental disorders are defined to be certain conditions that affect are thinking, feeling, perception, mood and behavior.
The most common mental illnesses are anxiety, stress and depression.
According to WHO, there are more than 200 million people affected by depression globally.
People who are depressed may have the following symptoms:
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Low self worth
- Lack of sleep
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of appetite
Depression is known to be one of the main reasons of suicide.
There are various disorders ranging from mild to more serious that need psychiatric attention.
Some of them are: Anxiety disorders like phobias, panic disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder;
Eating disorders like Binge eating, Bulimia nervosa, Aneroxia nervosa; Personality disorders like Narcissistic personality disorder,Schizoid personality disorder, Borderline personality disorder, paranoia and delusional disorder; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other Psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.
Mental disorders and gender
According to the WHO the following are differences of mental disorders between the genders:
- Alcohol dependence is found to be higher in men than in women. Approximately 1 in 5 men and 1 in 12 women develop alcohol dependence during their lives.
- Women are said to be more prone to Post Traumatic Stress disorder than men because women are more exposed to sexual violence.
- Female gender is a significant predictor of being prescribed mood altering psychotropic drugs.
- Depression is found more in women than men.
- Leading mental health problems of the older adults are depression, organic brain syndromes and dementias are found more in women.
Men and women both have different struggles.
But depression in men is estimated to be lesser than in women which is not true at all.
Men and women grow up in very different surroundings.
While men are taught to be strong and masculine, women are taught to be tolerant.
Recent studies show that men hesitate to ask for ‘help’, more so, most do not know how to seek ‘help’.
They are afraid that they might come off as ‘weak’, ‘not so manly’ or ‘sensitive’ if they seek help or even admit that they are not okay.
This is the reason why they do not express or have a hard time doing so.
But one must remember that men are humans as well, and depression does not discriminate between genders.
Women, on the other hand, face depression due to entirely different reasons.
Most women who are addicted to drugs and alcohol attribute to past trauma or sexual assault.
Women who have been forcefully married and have experienced domestic violence find themselves very prone to depression.
The common traits of these victims include self-harm and suicide.
Men and women are very different psychologically as they react differently to events and have a different perspective altogether.
They both have different needs, tendencies and vulnerabilities.
Regardless of the differences, mental health is essential to every human being, and there are some common grounds that men and women can practice to maintain good mental health.
Below are some of the healthy ways that one can keep a check on their mental well being.
It is always the first rule of mental well being to care for oneself.
This self-care may be different from person to person.
The world as we know it may seem very cruel and indifferent to our stress, anxiety and depression.
It is always good to pamper oneself to feel unique and comfortable in one’s own skin.
Pampering does not necessarily mean treating oneself to only expensive items.
Taking a nice long shower, moisturizing your skin, cooking ones’ favourite meal, indulging in a good movie, reading a book, gardening, spending time with your pet, taking a casual stroll, listening to good music, exercise, shopping, learning something new, indulging in long lost hobbies, are few of the simple things that help us in reconnecting with ourselves.
Rather than depending on the people around us to make us happy, we must remember to say,‘I am Enough!’.
As mentioned above, exercise is an excellent way to keep our minds off of negative things that may tend to happen around us.
Exercise also helps us in maintaining a healthy and a fit body which in turn help us to feel good in our skin and our bodies.
This boosts our self-confidence, which is another good mental exercise.
If we are confident in the way we look, we tend to love ourselves; we tend to care more.
The benefits of being physically fit also makes us active, which helps us to be enthusiastic, energetic and positive.
- Spending time with good company
Spending time with our favourite people be it friends, family, colleague, help us to see that we as individuals matter and are important in our rights.
It reminds us that we are loved and appreciated.
It is not only important to feel loved but also to feel needed and to love in return. Sharing our feelings, likes, dislikes, laughing together, talking helps us release our tensions and stress.
It helps us feel at ease and not take life too seriously as nothing is permanent and everything with time passes on.
Developing a hobby
It is important always to develop ahobby or engage in an activity that brings us joy and fulfilment.
The world is a beautiful place, and there are millions of things that one can contribute to, art, dance, music, knowledge, etc. to name a few.
Developing a hobby or learning new forms of art can help us in focusing on the good things in life and maintaining an optimistic attitude towards life which also help us to better ourselves as individuals.
Focusing on the present without worrying about the past or the future is another good mental exercise.
People often are stuck in their past or are too anxious about the future.
It affects the mind, hampers decision making or the ability to steer clear of what is important.
Meditation relaxes the mind and the body. It helps improve the mood and freshens up the mind.
Fresh air and sunlight
Many studies show that sunlight helps in the production of serotonin which is a chemical that helps in the regulation of moods.
No sun exposure leads to a decrease in serotonin levels which is a major cause of depression.
Lack of sleep is another factor that triggers mood swings and crankiness.
A healthy person always requires to have a good sleep.
The average sleep needed by a healthy adult is six to eight hours.
If there is sleep deprivation, a person might not feel ready for the next day, might feel cranky, tired, upset and very demotivated.
Sleep is essential for every individual to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
One is never free from negative thoughts.
One effective way to ward off negative thoughts is by being grateful. Being grateful for things, both small and big, helps us to have a positive attitude and focus on the bigger picture of life.
Gratitude not only brings joy but also helps us be thankful for our health, family, friends, food, our privileges, etc., that we often take for granted.
Many forms of eating disorder also lead to severe depression.
Eating healthy can keep our mental health in check.
Eating dark chocolates and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps keep moods in check and prevent depression.
It is never healthy to lock up emotions, feelings and suppress them.
Doing that leads to more frustration, feeling lonely and helpless, distant and detached, which leads to more stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, etc.
To express oneself and let out emotions is a healthy way of keeping depression away.
One can express through different forms of art which can help take out frustrations and anger positively and productively or convey to a dear one, friend or family.
Expressing emotions is to let them out. Holding it in can only lead to self-harm and more negative outlook on life.
Identifying strengths and weaknesses
It is good to keep a note of one’s strengths and be grateful.
Trying to work on one’s strengths to make them better is healthy.
To accept weaknesses and work on them is also essential in maintaining a positive and confident self-image.
Last but not least and perhaps the most important of all is to seek help when feeling lost.
All of us are humans, and no one is perfect.
It is only reasonable to feel helpless, lonely, stressed, upset, angry, sad, confused or even devoid of emotions.
The Bottom line
Some professionals can help with how and why we feel a certain way we do.
They lead us to better solutions in improving our mental health.
It is of utmost importance to remember that we are not alone and more important still to acknowledge that we don’t have to suffer alone, we can always share.