Mental health is an all too often taboo subject that can be difficult and uncomfortable to talk about openly. Although more and more communities are starting to support conversations about mental health, it has a still long way to go in terms of being accepted as a legitimate condition that requires attention and care. As such, many who struggle with depression, anxiety and other stressors feel shamed for their feelings and experiences, making it difficult to bring up the topic.
At the same time, there are risks associated with not pushing past this stigma. Without proper care, mental health issues can worsen and those who experience them may not understand the underlying causes or have the emotional resources to address the issue and make self-improvements.
In many cases, emotional struggles can be hard to pinpoint and toughest to admit. Often, those dealing with emotional strife begin to develop coping methods which can be both positive and negative. The simple truth is that people are wired to pursue pleasure and avoid pain - meaning that if we can find quick relief from our emotions, even in an unhealthy way, we will naturally tend to do that.
It can take time and courage to start a conversation on mental health and to acknowledge that something is wrong. However, even the first steps of acknowledgement and awareness can begin to break the cycle of shame.
In any journey to improve your mental health, understanding and awareness must come first. As you become more aware, you can better identify the triggers which lead to the negative coping responses. Having this knowledge can empower you to make better decisions in the future and to be less reactive in the moment. In addition to increasing your self-awareness, reflection and journaling can become invaluable tools to help you gain valuable insights into your own emotions, feelings and behaviors.
Connecting with a strong, supportive social network is also key to improving your mental health. It’s essential to have a supportive, understanding and empathetic confidant who can make a conscious effort to create a safe space to discuss the specifics of a mental health issue or challenge. This type of relationship can heal years of accumulated shame and can form the foundation of lasting personal growth.
There are also practical steps you can take to promote better mental health. Exercising, eating healthy, setting boundaries and learning to say no, unplugging from technology, and meditation can all help strengthen physical and mental well-being. Practicing mindfulness can also offer great relief as it allows us to take a step back from our daily lives and observe how we react and interact with our environment.
By taking the first step to address any concerning mental health issues, you can begin to unravel the shame and start your journey towards improved physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
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