Every day, we are reminded how important it is to take care of our physical health. From dietary concerns to the need to exercise and get enough sleep, everyone understands that taking care of our bodies is necessary for optimal health – even if we don’t always follow the best practices to achieve that goal. However, our mental health, arguably as important to our quality of life, is rarely discussed. In fact, many of us tend to hide any issues we may be experiencing when it comes to anxiety, depression, or feeling overwhelmed. We’ve not been taught to prioritize mental health. Because of that, some people may even feel shame about their emotions.
You are not alone if you have avoided the conversation about your mental health. There are many reasons that we all tend to put off seeking help that can improve our lives, and here are just a few.
- Two Words: Daily LifeWhen you feel good physically, you can begin to take your health for granted. The same is true for your mental health. But even if you start to feel distressed or dismayed, life is sometimes moving too quickly to sit down and process those emotions. Between your job, your family, the pets, the housework, and outside obligations, it can be difficult to find time to take care of ourselves. But remember, it can become increasingly challenging to care for everyone else if you don’t care for yourself.
To give yourself the self-care you deserve, set aside 5-minute breaks several times throughout the day. Do some deep breathing, listen to a favorite song, have some tea, or say a prayer. Whatever works best for you, these short mental health breaks are essential.
Expert Tip: Meditation and yoga are two activities that can help fight the stress that attacks both the body and mind.
- You Think There is a StigmaMany of us learn to “put on a brave face” from a very young age. We are taught to only cry in certain situations, and as we grow older, we learn to moderate our emotions even further. No one wants to be known as an over-emotional, over-dramatic friend or family member. We eventually suppress negative emotions so as not to let others see our struggle, especially if we are afraid that people will judge us. These days the stigma of needing support for mental health issues is significantly less, but many still have concerns about appearing “weak” or “fragile.”
As discussed above, self-care is essential for everyone. No matter what you imagine others may think, we all need to discuss challenging emotions. Feelings of depression or anxiety often dissipate these feelings, but talking to a trusted friend or family member can also help you to determine if professional counseling would be appropriate or helpful.
- You Don’t Know Where to Start.Negative thoughts or emotions tend to make us want to isolate ourselves and not seek out interaction or conversation. We might not want to burden others with our troubles, or we don’t want our boss, kids, or spouse to know there is a problem. Whatever the reason, you may not know where to turn or who to speak with when you feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed.
If you believe your feelings are situational or will pass, find a trusted confidante to speak with and make time for coffee meetups or walks to discuss your emotions. However, it may be time to speak with a mental health counselor if you don’t feel comfortable talking with someone you know or if your feelings and moods are adversely affecting your daily life, career, or relationships.
Important to Note: If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, call a hotline or seek help immediately.
- You Don’t Think You Can Afford It.Mental health counseling is more accessible than ever, but often people assume they can’t afford the needed services. If you have insurance, your coverage may provide therapy or counseling. However, many individuals do not have the necessary insurance to help them pay for those services.
What is most important is that you find the help you need. If you need counseling or to speak with a professional, call a local mental health therapist to learn more about their fees or available programs.
Denise Schonwald is a nationally certified mental health counselor dedicated to the unique needs of each of her clients. Visit her website to take the online mental health assessment survey or to schedule a free consultation. There is no need to go it alone – contact Denise and begin your healing.