Mental health can be a confusing concept. What do we mean exactly by mental health? Therapy even more so, especially if you’re not sure what to expect! In this blog I try to describe mental health by comparing it to a journey or process, in hope to shed some light on what you can expect from therapy and dealing with mental health complaints.
Life is inherently difficult and has its highs and lows. We continually have to navigate our way through stress and fear, find balance between work and rest and maintain our relationships, all the time while finding space for ourselves and our happiness. A good example of this is how many of us have now been faced with the task of adapting to our new lives under a pandemic. Some would even suggest that, to some extent, hardship is an inevitable part of the human experience. Nonetheless, our ability to navigate these obstacles and hardships is often directly influenced by our mental health.
Dealing with challenges
Many people view mental health as a destination or a state of being, a place we can reach where our daily stressors and hardships no longer exist, where we no longer have anxieties, negative thoughts or emotions. A place where we are happy. But instead, it is not these thoughts, pain or anxiety that define our mental health; that is all part of being human. It is the way we manage these obstacles, thoughts and emotions that define our mental health. It is the way we adapt to our internal and external environment, without causing more hardship to ourselves or others. While in the meantime, being able to work toward our goals and values with satisfaction.
Unhealthy coping techniques
Too often as humans we tend to manage distress in unhealthy ways. We use coping techniques that provide short-term relief, but actually in the long term maintain or can even worsen our problems. Think about drinking alcohol to make you feel better, avoiding a certain place, person or activity that makes you anxious, or procrastinating when you know you have work to do. By accepting, tolerating and managing this short-term distress in a healthy way we can reduce our long-term suffering.
Mental health is an ongoing journey or process, something one continually has to work on, nurture and manage
There is no quick fix
Some may come to therapy hoping to receive a quick fix where their problems are resolved. But mental health is an ongoing process or journey, something one continually has to work on, nurture and manage. There is no quick fix! Part of this process is how we manage our daily stressors. Therapy won’t always be able to resolve all your problems, but it certainly will be able to help you to gain insight and provide you with the tools and skills to manage your own problems and distress in a healthy way.
Practice, patience and perseverance
Mental health can be compared to learning a sport or building up muscle. You can’t be expected to pick up a football for the first time and play as a professional, or start lifting weights for the first time and lift the heaviest weight. It takes practice, patience and perseverance. Over time you will develop your skills and fitness, and you’ll notice it will start to come more naturally to you. The same can be said for our mental health, it is an ongoing learning process, in which we gradually learn about ourselves and how we can best manage our own emotions and thoughts in a healthy way.
Mental health is a long and a bumpy journey that requires effort, practise and commitment. Nevertheless, I am sure the commitment will be worth the reward in the end. Don’t forget to look back at how far you have come already!
I wish you every success on your mental health journey!
Help via NiceDay
Do you need support on your mental health journey? Are you looking to gain some new insights or learn some new skills? You can follow treatment via NiceDay at multiple organisations, click here for more information.