Let's talk about stress and mental health

Let's talk about stress and mental health

Unless you've been living under a rock then you'll know that it has been #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek between the 14th-19th May. Started by the Mental Health Foundation in 2001, this week aims to raise awareness of mental health and the problems associated with mental health in order to inspire action and promote the message of good mental health for all. Not an easy challenge, i'm sure you can agree! This year they are focussing on the subject of stress as their research has shown that it is a key factor in many peoples struggles. Although it isn't a mental health problem in itself, it can lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide - so if we don't talk about stress then we are in danger of people developing much more severe issues. Whether it is stress in your personal life, stress caused by work, worrying about money, health concerns...whatever, it is crucial that we highlight the epidemic which is happening amongst many people in the UK at the moment. 

"Three quarters (74%) of people have at some point felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope" (Mental Health Foundation Survey of 4169 UK adults)

So in the spirit of opening up the conversation and encouraging people I know to delve in to discussions about it, I went to Twitter to get some information on how different people handle stress and cope with their own mental health. I hope this helps!

1. "I have what I call my 'Basic Humanity Checklist' which I run through whenever I'm feeling low/stressed. 1. Have I eaten food in the past 24 hours? 2. Have I drunk water in the past 12 hours? 3. Have I had enough sleep in the past 48 hours? 4. Have I moved/washed my body in the last week? 5. Have I had any meaningful human interaction in the last week? If I get through all that without feeling better, it's time to talk..." @Becki_Bush, Book Editor, London

2. "I find when I'm suffering, every night before I go to sleep, I think back through my day & write down anything good that's happened, even if it's as small as someone smiling at me in a coffee shop. Looking at the good rather than the bad really helps me in day to day life." @CaraWood, Manager, London

3. "When you ask someone if they're okay and they say 'yeah I'm fine', probe a bit deeper and ask them again. We're often just keeping up appearances so if you feel like someone is hiding the truth, it's worth showing more interest in someone and helping them feel listened to." @KellyAnneRist, Social Media Executive, Hertfordshire

4. "Speak out! Do not be ashamed and fall victim to the silly stigmas society has made us believer. Nobody has good mental health 24/7 and anyone that says they do is a liar. It's like saying you've never had a cold. Everyone has their ups and downs and it's normal!" @ShesAGentry, Dental Technician, Peterborough
5. "If you feel like there is no one in your personal life you can reach out to then there are organisations who can help, listen and support you. You are never alone, but you may have to be the one to ask for help." @LovedByLauraC, Developer, Peterborough

 6. "Find the right person to talk to who you can trust (maybe someone you have confided in before or someone who has been through a similar situation). Unfortunately i've seen too man people open up to people who have either given dreadful advice, or made them feel worse. Talk to those who you know have your best interests at heart. Then find what works for you. We all deal with things in different ways." @Lizaboo_Ponders, Life and Wellbeing Writer, Stamford

7. "Try and reach out to talk to someone about what is happening. Remember, this is an illness, you are not to blame for this, and you should not feel guilty for it. If you can, try and identify any triggers and then the best way to work through them. Also, when it comes to recovery it's not always going to be an upwards journey, some times things get bad for a bit, and that's okay." @EssaysAndWine, Digital Marketing, High Wycombe

8. "When talking to someone at work about how you're doing, speak to them factually (difficult when feeling stressed or overwhelmed). Start with "I feel" rather than wording in a blame way. It's not about "I've got too much to do" (which may sound whiney), it's "I feel overwhelmed/stressed/under pressure" and then "it's making me feel x, y z". Also we all need to know that often the worries about what they will think, don't come true." @EmLangtonCoach, Coach, York

I personally have become very open about my mental health, and do a number of things to help myself - I write in a line a day diary to note down how i'm feeling and get them on to paper. I go to a counsellor and have found that speaking to someone impartial has been very beneficial. I call my family a lot, as they know me best and can often tell when things aren't quite right. Then finally, I lean on my friends. I like to believe that I am able to return the favour in one way or another, but I don't think I could ever put in to words how grateful I am for the people in my life. Call on them - what's the worst that could happen?

I really enjoyed finding out how different people cope with their own mental health. We can't always be completely happy, or not stressed, but the main thing to remember is that when you are feeling unlike your self then there are people out there who care, and people who can help. I added in where people are from and what they do for a living next to their quotes for a reason. I wanted to demonstrate that you could be from anywhere, or do any job, and still suffer with the same issues as anyone else. We are all different, but that doesn't mean we can't be humble and understanding for friends who aren't doing so well; and we can also still feel the same sort of pain and suffering as someone else. Just be patient, and check how someone is doing, even if they don't seem like they want to be asked. It will take two seconds out of your day and could make a huge difference! CTx
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