“The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about.”
Arte lang ‘yan!
This phrase generalizes most of the struggles that many people are going through, may it be Anxiety, Mood, Personality, Post-traumatic stress, Psychotic, or even Eating disorders.
Typically, in our culture, this is being brushed off and is often given little attention, mainly because we live in a society that is fast-paced and can’t afford delay due to issues that most people see as unimportant. Some mistakenly see mental health problems as something we should just “bottle up”; assuming we portray a strong personality that is expected not to show weakness.
These affect the way one thinks, his mood, feelings, and behavior in which he brings to his environment, it has no single cause; may it be genetic, environmental, situational, substance abuse, negative mental disposition, biological imbalances and the like. It can be occasional or long-lasting.
Today, as we celebrate World Mental Health Day; take a stand with all of us who are silently fighting our own battles. We are raising awareness that yes, conditions like these exists and these are not “Arte lang”.
To some extent, these conditions goes beyond self – management and disrupts our day to day activities and requires professional help.
“Just because you don’t understand it, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t so.” – Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book
Having a solid mental health doesn’t mean you won’t be having any emotional problems, we all have our bad times, and while they are normally happening to us, they still cause anxiety, depression, stress; but just as physically fit people are able to quickly recover from illnesses and injury, people with a strong mental disposition are able to better cope with stress, sudden changes, trauma; this is what we call as resilience.
Being resilient makes us less afraid to explore new experiences, or of an uncertain future, even if we do not know how a problem will be resolved, we remain hopeful because a solution is just waiting to be found.
Here are some tips on how we can keep our Mental Health in-check:
Make Social Connections/Re-connections – Some of the most comforting words that one can hear are ‘me too’, that moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s, and that you are not alone, you’d be hopeful and somehow engaged in discussing your current state. As social creatures, humans seldom thrive in isolation thus a face-to-face interaction helps a lot in relieving stress and enhancing mood. Although the pandemic limits us to just doing digital interactions for now, staying connected either physical or virtual is the way to go. Remember, reaching out is not a sign of weakness, most people are flattered if you confide in them.
Staying Active and Eating Healthy – The body and the mind are one, when we improve our physical well-being so does our mental health, doing physical activities releases endorphins, these are hormones that boost our mood and provide added energy, regularly doing these has a domino effect – you relieve stress, improve memory, and sleep better. You don’t have to lift weights and grind at the gym to stay active, you can walk around the park, dance to your favorite song, ride your bike, anything that involves you to move physically, it’s something you can engage right now to provide you a sense of control.
Learning to manage stress – One of the things that I do is I put my headphones on, grind freshly roasted coffee beans and read, I appeal to my senses to gain that sense of relaxation. Among other techniques, you have to know the importance of leisure, take a long bath, talk to your plants, play with your pets, we all have different ways to unwind. Meditation as well, being contemplative and being appreciative of the things we have. Yoga, deep breathing exercises, and other relaxation techniques goes a long way in releasing stress.
Regularize Sleep and Rest Pattern – Yes! Sleep is essential, many of us are guilty in staying up too late, when it seems that cutting sleep seems to be sensible for your busy schedule, it may be taking its toll on your mental well-being. Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. A little sleep deprivation can cause mood swoops, it affects mental sharpness and ability to handle stress. In getting better sleep, especially for those who are constantly anxious, we wind down to calm our mind, listen to music, maybe aromatherapy, taking a warm bath, reading under soft light, set the room, anything just to help us settle down.
Finding your purpose and meaning in life – This may seem very vague but nevertheless this is one of the most effective ways to optimize our mental health. Spending time with people who matter to you the most, may it be family, friends, a social circle, a special someone, can provide support to your mental health while also providing a sense of purpose. Participating in activities that make you feel more engaged, doing hobbies may it be physical and/or mental providing you that sense of productivity. Also caring for a pet, makes you feel needed and pets are avenues for new interactions, exposing you to new people and places, and just as we are social beings, we also find purpose in doing charity work, helping our communities, enriching and expanding our life.
When to get help?
While all of these tips seem attainable, sometimes we need a helping hand when we become overwhelmed, intervention and guidance from professionals can often help us get back on track.
The Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) releases a “List of Centers Offering Free Online Psychological Services During the COVID—19 Pandemic”
Also, the PAP has great online resources on how we can better understand our mental health
A simple tap on the shoulder of the people you love goes a long way! Take care!
JAN ALDRIN CALLORINA is a member of the Philippine Mental Health Association, also does various feature write-ups for local/international media companies, a digital gaming hobbyist, and an e-sports enthusiast.