We all have our own struggles, whether they be life’s simple stresses or demons we battle with on a daily basis. What is important in all the noise of life is that we lift ourselves and—when we can—lift others around us who seem to be buckling under the weight of their burdens.
Mental health is a topic that is often hard to discuss and difficult to approach. Lives are beleaguered under the weight of trials and struggles that nobody ever asked for and that few are willing to deal with unless life’s circumstances place them in their laps.
Whether you or one of your loved ones deals with issues regarding mental health, there are ways to make life sweeter and ways to show those battling that we care. Here are some thoughts on ways we can help ourselves or others:
1. Take the First Step
“Just take the first step.”
In honor of MLK Day and the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we start with some of his sage advice. The good doctor said that “[y]ou don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
Emotional awareness is critical for those who may struggle with their mental health but who have yet to embrace and acknowledge the burden they bear. Knowing your own situation and acknowledging the need for help is the first step towards solutions and improvements. Truly, understanding and accepting that you have something you need help with is like seeing the staircase for the first time; only then can we take steps to climb higher.
Its important to know that you can’t control the fact of whether or not you have a mental illness, but you can control how you respond to it when you are aware of the signs and are knowledgeable regarding best methods for approaching it. This is not easy, by any means. The struggles that many face are beyond the understanding of those who have never faced them, but learning, practicing, and seeking to implement techniques designed to help one cope is definitely within our power.
You are not alone. Seek out those who can help you and learn ways to take these first steps towards a happier and healthier life.
2. Keep your Focus Forward
“Keep small victories at the forefront.”
Sometimes in life we become bogged down in the muck and muddiness of our own situations and we spend the greater majority of our time looking down at our dirtied feet, instead of looking up to the solid ledge above. Staying positive in the face of mental illness is no easy task, but trying to keep small victories at the forefront is one way to improve our responses when struggles arise.
Here are some tips and ideas that can help you or your loved ones improve focus:
Start a Gratitude Journal – Take time each day to come up with at least a few things you are truly grateful for. You may be surprised how a focus on gratitude can enrich our lives.
Share Your Experiences – Often times, bearing one’s soul can have the effect of releasing a floodgate within and allowing our reservoir of emotional stress and strain to flow freely from us. Social media can be a good place for this, or simply talking to a loved one or writing it down for yourself to read.
Create Something New – Schedule some time to do something, anything creative. Whether it is drawing, painting, writing, or telling stories, take a moment to create something new and wonderful.
Give these tips a try and let us know in the comments if they have helped you.
3. Radical Acceptance
We would like to now share some sound advice from our friends at NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Check them out at their homepage at www.nami.org/home. Emmie Pombo with NAMI writes about the concept of “Radical Acceptance,” saying:
"[r]adical acceptance is ‘completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind,’ … Included in this definition is the idea that no matter what, you cannot change a situation.
For example, imagine a tornado is coming your way. Obviously, you can’t do anything to stop the tornado; that’s not possible. But if you accept the fact that it’s coming, then you can act, prepare and keep yourself safe. If you sit around trying to will the tornado to stop or pretend that there is no tornado, you’re going to be in real trouble when it comes.
The same applies to mental illness. You cannot change the fact that you have a mental illness, so any time you spend trying to ‘get rid of it’ or pretend it doesn’t exist is only draining you of valuable energy. Accept yourself. Accept your condition. Then take the necessary steps to take care of yourself.
When we accept that our mental health struggles are not simply going to go away, then is the time that we can shift our mental energies towards focusing on ways to face our struggles and fight for the happiness we all deserve. Radical acceptance is not a resignation to the weight and bleakness of our challenges, but rather a resolution to embrace them, face them, and meet them head-on each day.
If you are finding yourself experiencing suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.
Written by Michelle Nielson, KARMASCORE Content Creator
KARMASCORE is a woman-founded mobile app company for relationship
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