When we’re in pain or feel sick, most of us are all too happy to take the time to care for ourselves. We might see a doctor, take medicine or simply spend a day in bed to rest. So why do we not take the time to care for our mental health?
Physical health isn’t the only thing to negatively affect our lives. It’s been found that when our mental health is suffering, many other areas of our life can be affected, too. This World Mental Health Day, we want to share the importance of caring for mental health, and some ways in which you can do this.
Who Is Affected?
The numbers show that 12.8% of 5-19 year olds have a diagnosable mental health problem, and 1 in 6 people of working age experience symptoms associated with mental ill-health. Taking care of your own mental health is just as important as it is to support young people you know.
One of the most important things to know is that you are not alone. It may feel like it at times, but 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems at any point in their lives – that’s a quarter of us! In the last couple of years we’ve seen an increase in celebrities talking about their own struggles with mental health – it really can affect anyone – from entertainers, to bloggers, to athletes, and even royalty.
As adults, we try to do what we can to support the young people around us. Whilst supporting their academic progress is important, it is equally important to support their mental health and wellbeing. This could be by letting them know they can talk to you, or by helping them seek other support if they need it.
It’s just as important to look after yourself as well. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup! If you are struggling – be it with stress at home or at work, friendships, or mental ill-health – reaching out for support is a really great place to start.
Talking about how you’re feeling can be difficult, but it’s really important that you do, and there are people out there who will listen to you. Whether it’s your friends, family, colleagues or doctors – by talking you share the load of how you are feeling and you might even find that the person you speak to has had a similar experience.
Take Time For Yourself!
Life is busy! Work, friendships, relationships, family… the list of things going on in our lives seems to be endless. That’s why it’s really important to take time for yourself – it could be something creative, something active, or even just taking time to relax before getting some sleep. Different things work for different people and that’s okay. All of the above are ways you can look after your mental health, so take some time and find something that helps you. You could also ask your friends and family for some ideas – ask them what they do to relax; they might suggest something that you’d never thought to try and it could become your new favourite way to wind down when you’re struggling.
Encourage the young people in your life to do the same. Studying is important but encouraging them to find hobbies that they enjoy and find relaxing is just as key to their wellbeing. Taking regular breaks to relax and enjoy hobbies will help them to come back to their studies refreshed.
Seeking support and taking time for yourself are really important things to do, but when things are tough it can be hard to stay productive and keep on top of things. Try these tips for yourself, or work with young people you know to encourage them to do the same.
Set yourself small, realistic goals.
Big, long-term goals can seem out of reach when things are hard, but they don’t have to be. Break your bigger goals down into smaller, shorter-term goals. This can help you to keep moving towards where you want to be. As well as continuing to work towards your bigger goals, having small achievable things in the short-term can help you feel more successful! These goals can be anything – read for 10 minutes each day, drink more water, take an exercise class with a friend, choose a healthy snack over fast food… choose things that work for you, and you can always build them up over time.
Plan things you have to do, including breaks!
Similarly, if you’ve got lots of work on your plate it can be just stressful to take the time to take breaks as it is to get through the work. Plan your work and allow yourself planned breaks. Knowing that you are allowed to take a break and that you will go back to work can help to make sure that you can relax while having a break – without stressing that you’re not working.
For example, Get My Grades allows you to set work for students ahead of time, with due dates and times – meaning you can set work in advance and know when it’s due to go back and review it. You can easily see when students have completed work, or if it’s late, and all the data is collected in real-time – meaning everyone supporting a student can be up to date with their progress at all times.
Talk to those around you.
Other people are a great source of support and that is done best when you are honest. Let them know if you’re finding things hard, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to them before something is late or done wrong and let them know that you haven’t just forgotten to do it, or couldn’t be bothered. They also might be able to give you a bit of extra support – but you won’t know unless you ask.
If you take one thing from this blog, it is important to know that what you’re going through or feeling is valid, and you deserve to get support. You can do so on your own terms, in a way that works for you, and doing so can ease all manner of worries and difficulties.
One really important thing to note is that whilst it’s very important that young people around you know that they can talk to you, their wellbeing must always come first. We all have a duty of care to safeguard children and young people, and sometimes that might mean seeking help for them if they (or others) are coming to harm or you think they might be. Try to be honest with young people about this, and the reasons why you might have to tell someone – it is always in their best interest and never just because you feel like sharing their struggles.
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