Creating My Odyssey

Quirky artist / writer / explorer / wild west, steampunk & ghost nut /renaissance soul / mental health & lifestyle blogger

Friday, 21 December 2018

GUEST POST : HELEN ANNE GREGORY - MENTAL HEALTH BLOGGER, LIFE COACH, OPERA SINGER, ARTIST

Why we should be talking about what GOOD MENTAL HEALTH is!
If I were to ask most people if they had Mental Health issues most people would say no.

They would say no because our society gives out the message that if you are not mentally ILL (with a recognised problem such as depression, anxiety, bipolar etc), then you are mentally healthy.

But the truth is, it's just not true. Would you say that someone was physically healthy just because they didn't have a specific illness or disease?

Probably not, because it's more obvious that physical health exists on a scale.

Some people are much fitter than others, for example. That doesn’t always mean that they are totally healthy.

We've recently realized our society is hurtling towards massive physical health problems because of obesity and inactivity. We are now, quite rightly, bombarded with education about how we should all be moving more and eating less.


But what about mental health?



If you go to the doctor for a general checkup it is fairly normal for them to tell you that you need to work on your physical health. I know my  friendly local GP practice nurse would be obliged to tell me that I was a little on the overweight side when I had my annual checkup, and I'd be told that it might be a good idea partake in some regular exercise, but when was the last time you went to the doctor and they told you that you needed to work on your mental health?

An absence of mental illness is NOT the same as mental healthiness.

We all know how good physical health should basically present itself; A stable healthy weight, regular physical exercise, good diet etc etc… but do you know what excellent mental health looks like?

What does good mental health look like?


If I were to ask you to describe a mentally healthy person, what would you say?

Social media seems to say a mentally healthy person is happy all the time.

Wrong...

Negative emotions are as much part of the human experience as positive ones.

A sign of a mentally healthy person is someone who can deal with negative emotions. It's unhealthy to be telling people that if they aren't Happy then there must be something wrong with them.

Here are the things I personally think constitute the Ingredients for Good Mental Health!

1. Emotional Balance
The ability to be willing and able to process positive and negative emotions and being able to take responsibility for how we feel.
It’s about knowing that all emotions are there to serve a function and to recognize what those emotions are trying to communicate something. If we deny our emotions and we don’t allow ourselves to feel them then there will always be a knock on effect going forward.
If you have ever tried to hold a ball under the surface of the water, you will know that it is difficult because the air inside wants to come to the surface. Eventually, the ball will find its way out of the water, and usually with an explosive effect.
Have the ability to recognize why you are feeling any given emotion. What thought are you having that is causing you to feel that way?
2. Appropriate Internal Control
This is all about trying to use externally controlling behavior towards yourself or others.
You can’t control others. You can ask others to change but you can’t force it so trying to is not healthy. You should not be making physical or emotional demands of others in order to make you FEEL anything.
You should also avoid trying to control situations which are fundamentally out of your control, it just leads to mental anxiety.
Think about the person who gets angry when they are stuck in traffic. The anger at the situation won’t change the situation but it can only affect the person experiencing the rage (and those around them) but has zero effect on the actual issue. Doing this can have knock-on effects on your physical as well as mental health. People with severe anxiety usually have accompanying physical problems such as stomach problems or headaches, all induced by the stress hormones they are producing.

3. The Absence of Avoidant Behaviours
We are a lot more mentally healthy when we choose not to indulge in behaviors that help us avoid feeling negative emotion. We might overeat, binge drink, get addicted to drugs or sex or gambling. These are temporary distractions and false pleasures which ultimately lead to problems.
These behaviors take us away from our ‘negative’ emotion for a few minutes or hours.
Eating cake because you feel stressed makes no sense. Yes, a cake is delicious and you will enjoy it for a few minutes and maybe you’ll forget about your stress, but once it’s eaten it’s not actually taken your stress away, it just deferred it. Now you’re stressed again and you have probably de-railed that diet you were supposed to be following. Now you have a double negative of stress AND potential weight gain. Can you see how you have just deferred the stress?
You need to learn to deal with the causes of negative emotions, not find ways to ignore them.
If you are feeling stressed because of work then you need to address the sources of stress in order to get rid of it.
4. Your State of Mental Health Should NOT be Dependent on External Sources.
If you feel you are mentally healthy because you have a great job or a fantastic family/relationship, what would you do if that great job or loving relationship was no longer there?
You need to be able to generate your own feelings of self-worth/value, confidence, self-esteem and love. That way you will be more emotionally resilient when one of life's inevitable storms hit.  
It’s nice to have your life boosted by having and doing nice things, or by having lots of external love and support but your capacity for happiness, purpose, and fulfillment should not lie solely in the hands of others or in the hands of fate.

5. Future Planning
People with future plans and goals to work towards are proven to have better mental health.
Take the time to look at all of the areas in your life. Your job, your environment, your relationships, your friendships, your finances, your fun and recreation and think, what do I want out of these areas of my life?  
Human beings need to feel they have a purpose in order to thrive mentally. Give yourself purpose by thinking ahead and planning for things that excite or inspire you.
Then you can break down those big plans and dreams into smaller goals and move towards them purposefully every day. I can guarantee you will feel so much happier when you know where you are heading.





Blog Post written by Helen Gregory who is a Mental Health Blogger and a Life Coach alongside her career as an Opera Singer/Artist. You can find out more about Helen on her website: www.helengregorycoaching.com/blog

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