The topic of mental health is one that is widely discussed in the modern era. For the younger generations, using social media to share their feelings is almost commonplace, and that is very much for the best. We are moving away from the “stiff upper lip” and “pull yourself together” attitudes our parents and grandparents. And while some view mental illnesses like depression and anxiety as a very contemporary epidemic, it has been around for such a long time. But if people attempted to cope with mental illness without medication, as it wasn’t around then, can it be done so now?
This article will look at ways to help control issues like anxiety and depression. But I stress, if you are feeling depressed or anxious, please contact a doctor and make sure you get a thorough checkup. This article will look at ways in which mental health can be improved, but this is no replacement for the advice of a medical professional. If you are having feelings of helplessness or suicidal thoughts, please seek medical advice.
As a precursor to this article, I am writing this from my own experiences with mental health. I am aged 34, and I have struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. I recall speaking to a teacher when I was 8 saying that I felt sad. I was basically told “don’t be stupid”, as if I was too young to be experiencing such thoughts. As school wore on and kids become crueller and older, I found myself retreating into my shell. Long story short, it took me an abundance of self examination to find out what were the reasons I appeared to function “under par”. This is the viewpoint from which I write this article.
The “Hippy” Approach
If you are feeling symptoms of mental anxiety or low mood and this is something new to you. Maybe you can benefit from a plethora of new-age, or “hippy” methods. I don’t say “hippy” in a detrimental way. But alternative approaches to anything can be deemed left field, especially if you are new in hearing about these methods. But certain philosophies, such as buddhism and eastern religions. These promote the feeling of inner peace and tranquility. This may be the key to unravelling the anxiety you face. By embarking on a short meditation session, you can relax and feel rejuvenated by simply sitting in silence and focusing on your breath. Or you can start doing yoga, which is a great form of exercise combined with the practices of meditation. Yoga is done in a calm environment and its aim is to relax you.
Acupuncture is another one of those questionable methods. Sticking needles in your body may not sound like an enjoyable activity, but it is extremely relaxing. The science behind it is that, as your body conducts electricity, acupuncture serves to unblock those channels that have become clogged. Based on your specific medical need, acupuncture therapy is delivered accordingly. Having done it for a long period of time, I saw the benefits. The downside is that it can be very costly on the face of it, but is thoroughly worth it.
It’s continually peddled that we need to eat healthily in order to stave off obesity and illness, but what about eating to stave off mental illness? You may think that going on a diet is purely a way to eat nothing you like and be miserable, but there are methods of eating well which can help maintain a good mood. More and more research has been conducted into gluten, the substance which gives wheat its texture, and its effect on the human brain. More and more people speak of being “gluten intolerant” and there are more products that have gluten free alternatives, but why is this? Gluten may have an effect on the “blood-brain barrier”.
Try and not eat wheat or gluten containing products for a month and then phase them back in, so you can see which products affect you the most. You may then start to see what wheat was doing to you. People speak of having “brain fog”. This is essentially tiredness and an inability to focus, when eating products that don’t agree with them. In addition to wheat, you may find that you have lactose (sugars found in cow’s milk) intolerance or a sensitivity to certain additives. Reducing these fog inducing factors will result in a clarity you might not have seen before.
A footnote to this section is that your brain is made up of fat, and the preferred fuel of your brain is… fat! So stocking up on your healthy fats, like nuts, seeds, olive oils and avocados will help your brain function better. A diet like the mediterranean diet is made up of healthy oils from fish and the aforementioned fats, as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Sometimes the simplest explanation is also the most difficult. Asking for help is something that is not always encouraged due to the roll up your sleeves approach. When we reach out on social media, it is not just to complain or to become a “poor me person”, it is to see if people feel the same way as we do. When one person reaches out for help, and is honest about their intention, people are quick to lend a word of advice or a shoulder. Sometimes just the action of asking for help, or just admitting that there is a problem is liberating enough. Remember there is always support out there for you, with illnesses people can see there is The Epilepsy Society for epileptics, or Open Forest for ADHD sufferers. Those that suffer with mental health issues have the same amount of support, MIND being a charity that helps tackle the mental health stigma.
I hope this articles has given you some food for thought, and the next time you feel you need some help, make sure you ask for it.