Spring is finally here! The sun is shining, the breeze is warm, and the grass is turning green! There is a feeling of lightness in the air, but, boy-oh-boy, am I tired! Spring is a time for renewal and regeneration, but also the time when I it seems that I need to recharge my batteries the most. My seasonal allergies come out to play and, unfortunately, they aren’t great playmates. Everything is sprouting and beginning to bloom around me, but I am emotionally and physically drained.
I know that everyone feels like this from time to time, and yes, we do all get tired. I think what I forget, and maybe some of you can relate to this, is that when we feel this exhaustion it is very important to listen to our bodies and minds and take the breaks and the rest that we need. I personally work in an emotionally demanding profession with children – a career which I love, but which can take its course on my mind and body. Taking on multiple roles (counselor, mediator, nurse, motivator, organizer, role model, etc.) in addition to being an educator in a classroom to twenty some little people, while rewarding on most days, can also be stressful and draining on others. And that’s just my day job!
For those who may not be aware, this is Canadian Mental Health week (May 6-12), also called Children’s Mental Health Week. (Check out www.cmha.ca for more information about mental health awareness and education.) (Please note: Mental Health Week is not to be confused with Mental Health Awareness Week which occurs the first full week of October in the United States, and other Mental Health Awareness Weeks around the world!)
(image from teentalk.ca)
Mental Health is truly one of the things which most of us take for granted, but is really so instrumental in our daily functioning and how we deal with what life throws at us. We often forget how important it is to maintain and preserve our mental and emotional well being. Good mental health (just like good physical health) is something we may not appreciate until we no longer have it. You know, kind of like, you don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone?
Truth be told, I’m a big supporter of “Mental Health Days”. By this I mean taking a day off when you need it, before you actually get sick from stress and from overtaxing yourself. I think it’s important to take a day (or two) to relax and unwind before, and to prevent yourself from, becoming ill, either physically or mentally, and having to take longer periods of time off because you HAVE to.
Mental Health Awareness is becoming increasingly important in our children as well. (See www.kidsmentalhealth.ca for more information.)
I read a few statistics about mental health and, while I find stats help me to put things into perspective, the following were alarmingly staggering:
- 1 in 5 Ontario children and youth has a mental health problem (that’s about 500,000 children in Ontario).
- Mental health problems in children can be termed ‘disorders’ which range from anxiety, depression, and conduct disorder to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder.
- Left untreated, mental health disorders can lead to failure in school or loss of job, family conflicts, drug abuse, violence, and even suicide.
It is becoming more and more evident that nourishing and nurturing our minds and working towards good mental health is so integral to how fully we can live and enjoy our lives. Being physically active, having and promoting positive self esteem and confidence in ourselves (and others), and knowing ourselves well enough to recognize triggers and limits are all practices which can help to maintain and protect positive, emotional well-being. When we feel stressed it is a good idea to have a personal list of strategies and techniques which we can use to help recharge and refocus ourselves in a positive and uplifting way. For some ideas, check out one of my previous blog posts: 12 Ways to Restore Balance and Renew Your Spirit.
In our children, it is vitally important to portray to them positive examples of taking care of our mental and physical health and work to eliminate the stigma which is associated with Mental Health issues. There is no shame in asking for help and in confiding in a trusted friend or family member when we need to talk to someone. There is no shame in admitting our feelings of despair, loneliness, frustration, and emotional fatigue to someone who cares. There is no shame in reaching out for professional or medical help when our burdens are too much to bear.
Violence in our world today has often been attributed to the mental illness of the perpetrator. I would agree that this is often the case. It’s a fact that there is sadness and evil in the world: see Let Light Shine Out Of Darkness. Increasing knowledge of mental health issues is what an awareness week is all about. We need to have resources in place in order to help those individuals who aren’t mentally or emotionally ‘well’. There are over seven billion people living in God’s world right now – NO ONE needs to feel ALONE.
(photo from themindsanctuary.com)
We were put on this Earth to help one another. Let’s reach out to someone, to anyone, who needs a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, or even just a passing smile. Simply sending an email, a text, or placing a phone call which says, “Hey, I’m thinking of you!” can brighten someone’s day. We need to make time for those who contribute to us feeling good about ourselves and who help to eliminate stress, instead of adding to it (intentionally or unintentionally). That can be a tough reality – not everyone may want what’s best for us, unless it’s what is best for them too.
Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle (T.H. Thompson). Show compassion. Be gentle with words and actions. We need to take care of ourselves and others. A mentally ‘well’ society is best for everyone. Mental Health Matters… to all of us.
(Dear Readers, In the words of Jerry Springer (and yes, I somewhat cringe while quoting him, but his words are true and exactly fitting for this note): Take care of yourself… And each other. Love, ~ K ~)