“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and unashamed conversations”-Glenn Close
Since 1949 ‘Mental health month’ has been observed in the United States of America geared by National Association for Mental Health currently known as “Mental Health America organization” this usually happens in May. Through the media and other platforms the mental health messages reaches millions of people globally, with the help of other organizations interested in mental health based on different themes every year.
Some of the themes of the past recent years are; ‘live your life 2009’ this theme was created to embolden the public that many mental problems could be avoided by making effort toward and making positive lifestyle choices in the way we act and think. Further, people should take responsibility for the prevention of mental health issues when under stress and personal challenges. The theme same was repeated in the following year for emphasis, in 2011 ‘Do more for 1 in 4’ was the selected theme based on the 2005 NIMH statistic which indicated that 1 in 4 adults had diagnosable mental condition in a given year. The Theme called upon Americans to assist the 1 in 4 adults in their life cycle living with diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. It also highlighted treatment and recovery programs. ‘Healing trauma’s invisible wounds’ was the theme in 2012 which targeted to bring a new hope of healing to trauma survivors and society; on top of that it was aimed to enlighten us on the many sources of trauma, its adverse health effects, the cost to trauma survivors and society. In 2013 May another amazing theme was selected ‘Pathways to wellness’ calling upon all Americans to approaches that will aid them achieve beneficial mental and general healthy life. Who does not have such desires? Desires of Seeing your family, friends, co-workers, employees…the list is endless in a good state of mind. You are responsible for your mental health as well as the whole body well being. ‘Mind your health’ ,was the theme in the year 2014 enlightening the nation on the connections between the mind and the body, providing tips and strategies that encouraged people to take positive actions and protective measures for their mental health. The theme for mental health in 2015 was ‘B4stage4’ calls attention to the urge of having the knowledge on mental health symptoms early, identifying potential underlying diseases and planning an appropriate measure on the quest towards general good health status.
This means that we have different stages in mental health…which stage are you in?
How can I know which stage am in…one way of doing this is by taking mental health screening-a free, confidential, anonymous questionnaire to access symptoms and health factors for mental health conditions. #mentalillnessfeelslike hash tag in 2016 with the theme ‘ mental illness feels like’ calling on individuals to share their personal experiences of what mental illness feels like in words pictures and video.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.” Fred Rogers
In the year 2017 the theme for mental health was ‘Risky Business’ which concentrated on the significance of educating people about habits and behaviors that can put one at risk of developing mental illness or could be signs of mental health problems themselves to name but a few of these factors include, risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, pornography, excessive spending, marijuana use etc. How risky are you doing this business? Business which we have ignored, yet with weighty impact on day to day living.
In 2018 Fitness #4mind4Body was the theme focusing on what individuals should do to be fit wherever and whenever they be an intrinsic quest of health and wellness. This theme was repeated in last year’s campaign with a couple of new inputs described as essential parts of everyone’s recovery toolkit.
Stress is simply the body’s reaction to the wear and tear of life. Every single activity that we engage in and emotion we feel sets up stress. The way your body reacts towards such stress agents or stressors determines your well-being of immediate health and your potential to long life.
Despite the fact that everyone undergoes stress, individual vulnerability and resilience differs widely. While one person can adjust to changes in lifestyle others will fall apart under the same circumstances. Let’s put in mind that Stress is very essential in life. Stress in its simplest form means ‘Stimulation’ thus most people work best ‘under pressure’.
Stress can often be the spice of life. Our bodies and our minds were built take stress and to thrive on it. The occasional shock of adrenaline can also be a great cure for boredom and indifference. When handled well, stress gives us added motivation to overcome obstacles and the energy to handle threatening situations and meet even our bending tasks.
Actually, it is not stress itself that is so important and dangerous, so much as mental and physical response that we make to what Hamlet called ‘the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. Biochemists have established the importance of stress in connection with coronary heart disease. The adrenaline that is pumped into the system by our shocks, worries and anxieties would have been used up naturally years ago by sheer hard work. In civilized society we tend to stifle our impulses, and take very little exercises. Our adrenaline increases the heart rate and blood pressure, increases the output of blood fats and increases the blood concentration. Lack of exercise and hard work to burn off the chemical effects of our tensions and worries is one of the major reasons why coronary heart disease is the number one killer in the society today.
We realize that when Brother Daniel is in hospital and his ulcers are really terrible it’s mainly because of excessive pressure at work, or to worries of his family. The more emotionally repressed; nervous and tense we become, the bigger the menace.
Additionally, what one finds stressful others find joy in it-hence some people are ‘stress seekers’ while others are ‘stress coopers’. Stress is an ally or foe depending on the personality of one experiencing it. Generally, effects of population explosion, along with highly technological advancements in society and mass media. On top of that, increased cases of marital breakdown; the ever widening generation; economic crises; job dissatisfaction or loss; failure in exams the list is endless. Under such circumstances most of us are stress coopers doing our best to keep afloat. And if one cannot cope up then he/she will sink in stress.
Am sinking in stress
Some of the signs that one is not coping with stress are:
Excessive tiredness, irritability, inefficiency at work, home or at school and depression, after which the body breaks at its weakest. By having severe headaches, others backache, skin rashes, bowel disorders or severe ingestion. These are the warning indicators which if ignored can lead to serious problems like stomach ulcers and coronary disease. Chronic hypertension, chronic fatigue syndrome, breakdowns and earth attacks follow easily.
It is important for you to understand that these symptoms are caused by mental strain.
From studies some of the diverse effects of stress in social context are; road rage, child abuse and high rates of drug and alcohol abuse have been linked to rising stress levels.
How to Cope with Stress
1. Complete Break
If you realize you are a stress sufferer, one of the best remedies you can do is a complete break from your regular routine. Whatever may work for you a complete break can be achieved by frequent short breaks while it’s advocated by some to take two to three weeks in a stretch.
If it’s a holiday or a weekend out purpose to relax and get away from stresses and strains of life. Avoid extra stress that could result from overspending on a luxury holiday. Plan to find a small hotel or caravan in some beauty spot where you can really unwind, or take a boat ride, whatever your preference. And in the weekends plan to have a good time with your family and friends that can be enjoyed and looked forward to.
2. Balance work and relaxation
Rest is the food which feeds long life. It can be easily achieved in a quiet place. Give yourself cushions of time. Stress diseases are the so called hurry-worry ills that usually rise from a too tight a schedule and worries. Such pressures lead to injuries and accidents and slip ups.
Take time for yourself after work to help you unwind and make your day nicer and your life a loner one; grab a good book, or on your way from work listen to a good and captivating audio book or motivation, lean back on your bed…forget schedules, appointments and debts. Relax. Relax. Relax.
3. Enough sleep
It has been shown that animals die more quickly from luck of sleep from lack of food. Sufficient sleep is vital for nervous stability. Three to five years should sleep for 15hours and 7 to 8 hours for adults.
It is recommended that one should go to bed at the same time regularly and not too late. Avoid attractions of television and other excitements or even chatting late to the night when you should be sleeping.
Sleep is the best of nature’s most restorer not only physically but mentally. It sweeps away fatigue and helps us maintain mental balance.
4. Regular exercise.
A little regular exercise which stretches the big muscle could be the answer to a good night’s sleep as well as breaking the vicious chain of stress. Choose an exercise or a spot that you will enjoy, and preferably something that you can continue in a good or bad weather. Badminton, bowling, gardening, hiking, climbing, walking and swimming all have their benefits as adrenaline-discharging activities. Gardening being the best exercise at home as it involves all your body senses and much of the body muscles are engaged.
5. Talk about troubles
A trouble shared is trouble halved. It always helps to get worries off your back. When serious problems start to assail you, don’t be afraid to discuss them with your family or your trusted and sympathetic friend. You can as well talk to your family doctor or visit a counselor, to your pastor, minister or priest or understanding member of your family. Gloomy, angry, unkind and selfish thoughts bottled in your mind causes neurons in the hypothalamus to fire nervous impulses the pituitary glands in the brain, helping them to produce the growth hormones (GH or HGH) stimulating the adrenal glands, located slightly above the kidneys, to produce special hormones that causes blood pressure to rise, the heart beat to be faster making the muscles to tune on for flight or escaping from danger or am infection or toxin which in the real sense isn’t there.
On the other hand, when our thoughts are calm and tender, the hypothalamus send forth impulses that cause the pituitary glands to secrete ACTH, which causes the adrenal glands to secrete cortisone. This has the effect of returning the heart pressure and heart to normal. Good blood supply helps in digestion, elimination and assimilation and from this arises a feeling of peace, relation and optimism.
And if you are a Christian you are able to discuss our troubles with God, who always hears and cares.
6. Hobbies and pastimes.
Before the days of television and other forms of mass entertainment –which tend to increase our stress factors – people spent their evenings and leisure hours in conversation, music and reading. A good creative hobby is an extremely effective prescription against stress. People can lose their day to day worries in art.
7. Hydrotherapy and Massage
A warm bath foaming with pine essence can do you great to end a long day. Water is a good simulator as well as good to relax your body. A cold both in the morn can tone up the system in the morning, a warm shower or bath for a good night bed rest.
A hot foot-bath is very effective because of its effect on the entire body circulation. By dilating the blood vessels in the feet and the legs it relieves congestion in the other parts of the body.
8. Eat well
Did you know that even the diet you take can affect the stress you suffer? Processed food especially refined carbohydrates in the form of white flour products and too much sugars, robs off the body the essential vitamins from the B range, which are the basic ingredients for a healthy nervous system.
Almost everyone suffering from nervous exhaustion is deficient in the B Vitamins. Eating the whole grains, whole-wheat bread, legumes (beans, lentils), seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds, groundnuts), dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach and fruits (citrus, avocados, bananas) will help you restore back your energy.
9. Perfect Peace
When our minds are ill at ease we also suffer physically, spiritually, mentally and socially, but with a positive mentality and positive attitudes, as we learn to cope with stress all other aspects are equally strengthened.
There is one source of peace we often neglect, Our Lord above. (Isaiah 26:3, NLT) You will keep in perfect peace all that trusts in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Jesus promised all his followers ‘PEACE IN ME’. He continued, ‘Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33, NLT)
“You must learn to let go. Release the stress. You were never in control anyway.”-Steve Maraboli