Stress is like spice…
…in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish. Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you” Donald Tubesing.
According to the World Health Organization mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year. People struggling with mental health are in our families, living next door, teaching our children and even working with us. However, only half of those affected receive treatment, often because of the stigma attached to mental health. Untreated, mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, poorer performance at home, school, work and even suicide.
What can you do to help?
Although the general perception of mental illness is improving, studies show that stigma against mental illness is still powerful. This is because mental health conditions have been labeled more negatively than other diseases and disabilities, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and AIDS.
Below are some powerful ways you can help the people around you who are fighting illness such as stress and depression
- Showing individuals respect and acceptance. It helps remove a significant barrier to successfully coping with the illness. Having people see you as an individual and not as your illness can make the biggest difference for someone who is struggling with their mental health.
- Advocating within your circles. Influence helps ensure these individuals have the same rights and opportunities as other members of your church, school, and community.
- Learning more about mental health. Having knowledge allows us to provide helpful support to those affected in our families and communities.
How can you improve your ability to handle stress?
1. Get moving. Regular exercise such as walking and running can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress.
2. Connect to others. Spending time with people who improve your mood and do not let your responsibilities keep you from engaging differently with those around you. If you do not have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
3. Eat a healthy diet. The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with life’s stressors. Experts agree that a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you cope better with life’s ups and downs.
4. Get your rest. Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. A state of restfulness can reduce your everyday stress levels and boost feelings of joy and serenity.
Take charge of your well being and of those around you. The next time someone says they are losing it remember the words of C.S. Lewis “Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempts to conceal mental pain increase the burden: it is easier to say, “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
This article was written by Annete Karanja.
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