With this week marking World Mental Health Day The Style Edit takes a look at a few ways to cope with life’s challenges.
Everyday we face challenges, sometimes big and sometimes small. From spilling tea, our car breaking down, falling out with a close relative or friend or experiencing a significant loss through death or illness, we are all challenged at some point, on some level, with circumstances which test our emotional and mental wellbeing. So how do we cope? How do we survive? Resilience is the key.
Resilience stems from the Latin word resilīre which means “to spring back” or “rebound”. The Oxford dictionary defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. However, drama- therapist Bianka Kuhn from Young Minds UK (www.youngminds.org.uk), who has 20 years experience working in the field of mental health, adds to this definition and describes resilience as “springing forward” from adversity rather than bouncing back.
But how do we bounce back, or rather, spring forward when times are tough? What about those times when we are feeling particularly vulnerable, weak or helpless? What resources do we have, or need to have, in order to get through challenging times?
We need a box of tools, a bag of potions. Whatever you wish to call them, we all need a reliable source of little tricks to help us manage daily stresses and have a back-up parachute for those times which we need to “break in case of emergency”.
On the ground we pretty much have the same basic human needs to keep us functioning fairly well; a good night’s sleep (at least 7-8hrs), plenty of water, daily intake of vital nutritional components (vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbs etc.), daily exercise and stretching, a safe shelter from the harsh weather, love and human connection (a sense of belonging). Just like plants we too thrive when we are exposed to fresh air and a little sunshine.
Routines and schedules are wonderful for the logical left-side of our brains as it helps us feel safe by making predictions. However, it’s vital we also give the more radical right-side of our brains the loving attention they need. We can do this by tapping into our favourite ways to creatively express ourselves; whether that’s though playing music, singing, dancing, painting, yoga (my personal fave!), cooking, baking, sculpting, reading or writing (this list is endless!). Not only does this strengthen our sense of who we are but it also helps us think “outside the box” which is a key factor for problem solving when the unexpected comes knocking on our door. Being creative can give us new ways of looking at things.
Having a fresh perspective can really help when times are tough. A sense of humour is fantastic for letting go and detaching from the little things that we can’t control nor need in our lives. Talking to someone else about our issues can give us a refreshing break from the stale view we can so often have. They can lead us to new windows and see things from a new angle instead of always looking at the same problems from the same old window.
Talking and connecting helps. A cuppa, a good vent and hug can sometimes be enough to fix a problem. Picking up the phone and calling a helpline might give you the private space you need to talk or a course of therapy might be more fitting for the problem your having to face. When we are physically unwell or sick we usually go and seek medical assistance, take a few days of bed rest, sometimes will be given a course of antibiotics or perhaps even need surgery. So why not treat our mental health with the same love and attention we so readily give out physical health and seek professional support or advice when we are vulnerable? After all it is clinically proven that poor mental health is intricately linked with poor physical health (Mental Health Foundation).
We are one living being and our physical and mental health are intertwined. Like yin and yang, one cannot exist without the other. To live a truly #balancedlife we must make sure that we are ticking all the boxes for our overall heath and welling. So after your next evening walk, stick on the kettle and dial up that friend of yours for a good auld chin-wag and a laugh. It’s good for you!