Talk of the Town
Vital to be kind to your mind
October is World Mental Health Awareness month, with World Mental Health Day having been celebrated on the 10th under the theme #BeKindToYourMIND.
Stop for a moment and be honest with yourself: How kind are you to yourself?
Why do we need to be kind to our mind?
If we go back a couple of years, in 2019, did anyone have a good year?
Then in 2020, from high hopes (the year of plenty) we went to shock, fear, lockdown and loss.
And 2021 was the year of fatigues (Zoom, decision fatigue, burnout, compassion fatigue).
And in 2022 there was a second disruption, we just got used to working from home and then to go back to the office, with load-shedding affecting our businesses, and a war having eruped in the Ukraine which is affecting our economy.
I think you would agree we have really been through a very tough time.
Some days we are hopeful, other days we feel angry and some days we just feel sad. A bit of a fruit salad really.
Our minds have been pulled in a million directions. I think you would agree this is more reason to be kinder to yourself and your mind.
Did you know one in three people is struggling from either anxiety or depression, and there is no nice way to say this, because the sad part is that not everybody is diagnosed.
That does not necessarily mean it is full-on clinical depression. There is situational depression, situational anxiety, and trauma.
Maybe you are not that one in three but it might be someone you care about.
Why is your mind so precious? Well, you only have one mind, you cannot borrow one – it must last you your whole life.
Your mind creates everything. If you are in a good mood, it puts this kind of sheen on everything, and when you are unhappy or angry, it puts a different kind of cloud on everything.
The mind is a powerful thing, use it to your advantage.
We all face some form of strain and have to look after ourselves and our minds.
How do we do this?
Be kind to your mind. Maybe you have heard about your mental diet, it is a sea of language.
A fish is in a sea of water – but does not know it.
We, as humans, are immersed in a sea of language – are we aware of this language in our own head.
It’s the language in our own head, and that’s probably the most important, and also language entering our mind from all over.
If you look at social media, and I am not for or against it – is it good or bad?
It definitely has a role to play in society, however, there are other times when you just spend time scrolling through a sea of words and images. Two hours can pass in the blink of an eye with a result that is not very pleasing.
Some days what we see and experience on social media can make us unhappy, angry or anxious and sometimes we feel “why are they having so much fun and I am not”.
So first of all, keep an eye on your internal narrative.
If you become aware of how it makes you feel, you need to know it’s time to put the device down and do something practical.
So is social media helpful or not? If not, take a break.
The news, do you watch it and how does it make you feel?
Personally, I don’t watch the news, because I don’t have the capacity for it at this point. If something important is happening I am sure someone will tell me.
I stopped watching the news in 2020 as I was very aware of how it made me feel. The impact wasn’t very helpful and kind to me.
Gossip is another issue that can add to being unkind to yourself.
I always ask myself, is it kind, is it necessary and is it the truth? If it is necessary, is it true? Especially in the area of mental health.
If you know someone is going through a difficult time, are you discussing what is necessary to help and support this person, or are you being judgmental.
If you are kind to yourself, you can be kind to other people.
The most important question is: Is self-care selfish? The answer is no.
It is not narcissistic, it’s about your mental attitude.
If you say to yourself “I don’t matter”, it is self-neglect. Where we really need to be is in the middle. “I matter and I need to be kind to myself and practise self-care.”
This is because if I cannot look after myself, I cannot look after others.
You cannot give what you don’t have, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
When faced with difficult situations, our minds may venture to negative thoughts that keep us from finding solutions or moving through tough circumstances towards better times.
Maintain healthy perspectives, thinking about difficulties in a more balanced and realistic way.
Reflect on how you feel, and remember self-care is not selfish.
Accept change and focus on the things you can change and accept the things you can’t.
We deserve to be able to feel the sun, to think relatively clearly, and to get out of bed without a long, painful, mental battle.
It’s not OK if depression is stealing your energy and ability to sleep.
It’s not OK if anxiety is trapping us in our home.
It’s not OK if we’re unable to do things we enjoy because our poor mental health creates issues that feel impossible to overcome.
It’s not OK to be in a crisis day after day.
It’s not OK to feel worthless and hopeless or a constant burden.
You deserve all the help, care, support, love and listening ears you need to help you feel OK again.
You are not alone. Reach out today and get the help and support you need.
Sadag (SA Depression and Anxiety Group) is Africa’s largest mental health organisation. You can call them free of charge at tollfree number 0800-456789 or trauma helpline 0800-205-026.