Written by Arlenea Halyda, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia
It’s no secret that our mental health is harder to talk about as opposed to physical health. Before delving into the why, let’s briefly discuss what mental health is.
Mental health is a state of balance in our emotions and thoughts, which affects how we think and feel and, consequently, how we act. Whatever stage of life we’re in, no matter who we are, where we come from, or our gender identity, we’re constantly affected by our mental state; hence mental health is continuously a vital aspect of our well-being.
Then, why is mental health so hard to talk about? Why does society often sweep it under the rug as if it’s something that can be ignored?
It can be because mental health issues have been considered taboo or a secret that one should keep. Because our mental health is so intimate and personal, discussions about it can evoke the fear of being rejected (which can feel like a personal offence), or fear of being seen and treated differently.
Unfortunately, avoiding discussions around mental health will only perpetuate the existing stigma and the negative stereotypes associated with people who have mental issues. It will also cause a lack of awareness and a lack of perception, leading to people quickly judging a person due to their mental state without registering that they might need help. Thus, a never-ending vicious cycle is born, where society let people suffer in silence with no way for people to speak up and no one willing to listen.
This is why conversations around mental health are important. It lets us realize mental health’s significance and how much it affects every facet of our lives. It also helps us to practice compassion and validates people’s feelings, whether positive or negative, without judgement.
So, let’s talk about mental health!
When talking about mental health, the first thing to understand is that it’s equally as important as physical health, and we should treat it with the same care and urgency.
The fact that mental health affects the mind rather than the body may make it harder for mental illness to be distinguished, but it doesn’t mean that mental and physical illness doesn’t have the same severity. Understanding this will prevent us from accidentally promoting damaging behaviours such as hurling words like ‘get over it‘ or ‘it’s all just in your head’, which can create barriers preventing healthy conversations.
A chat with someone (maybe your friend or a family member) can help us see things from others’ perspectives. It will provide us with the opportunity to reach out for help or give help, should they or we need it, and let them know that they’re not alone. A simple ‘How are you?‘ can go a long way!
Unsure of how to start the conversation? You can start by talking about how you feel and what’s been weighing you down (if there’s any). Even if you don’t feel like it’s a ‘big deal’, if it bothers you, then guess what? It is a big deal! No feelings are too small, and no concerns are too trivial.
Additionally, in light of the International Day of Mental Health, here are more ways that you can do to nurture your mental health!
Exercising has lots of benefits. Not only will it keep you physically healthy, but it can also help you concentrate and sleep better, which immensely improves your state of mind! On top of that, it’s a great way to channel your emotions and direct your anger or stress into physical movements.
However, being active isn’t limited only to exercise, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be an intense workout program or anything. It can simply be walking around your neighbourhood, jumping around to the beat of your favourite tunes, or dancing your favourite K-Pop dance until you sweat. Make it enjoyable!
This brings us to the next point:
Do Something You Love
What do you enjoy doing? What activity can you fully be immersed in? Doing activities that you genuinely love can beat stress and help you find joy in life!
You don’t have to be good or an expert at it, you only have to love it! Sing offkey, dance offbeat, draw badly, play games even when you keep losing, write indulgently—who cares? The only goal here is to enjoy it enough that you can smile at the end of the day and forget about your worries for a while. If you’re ever worried about becoming too indulged that you’re not ‘productive’, always remember what John Lennon says: “The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time.”
Don’t Compare Yourself to Other People
If there’s one thing I hope you can take from this article, it’s this: please don’t compare yourself to other people.
You’re not comparable to anyone, and there’s nothing that can act as a measurement of yourself or your worth. Each of us was born in different circumstances, with different bodies, souls, and minds. It means that each of us has different opportunities and experiences! So please, please, please don’t compare yourself to others. It’s an insatiable act, and you won’t ever be satisfied with who you are, if you do. Moreover, what you see isn’t always as it seems! You’ll only ever see a fraction of people’s lives—their highlights and success and the parts they chose to share—whereas you see everything behind yours.
Remember, you have your own timeline, your own lane. You’ll get where you want to go, and you’ll find what you were looking for, in your own due time. You’re good enough, just as you are. You’ll always be good enough.
Hang in there! I hope this article finds you safely. And one more thing: if you ever feel like your problems are too heavy to bear alone, or if you suspect that you have any symptoms of any mental illnesses, please seek professional help! You deserve to get treated properly, and you deserve to heal.