Have you ever had a bad nights sleep which has impacted on your job performance the next day which in turn caused you to feel anxious which in turn affected your sleep the following night? And so the vicious circle begins.
In the world we live in looking after our bodies and our physical health is much more talked about and accepted than looking after our mental health. Of course there are many that read self help books, go to counselling, do yoga or meditation but we tend as a nation not to give our mental health the same energy and air time as our physical health.
And yet our mental health is so important. It affects how we cope with day to day stress and how we relate to others. When we are in good mental health we are much more able to maintain positive healthy relationships and manage the regular challenges we face.
Try to think of good mental health as a skill, like learning to play football or learning to cook. It takes coaching and practice to perform well. And the more you practice your learned skills the better you get. A mentally healthy person is able to feel, identify and express a wide range of emotions, they usually have very clear thoughts and as a result can use controlled behaviour to deal with any uncomfortable feelings that might arise as a result of challenges in work, home, sport or intimate relationships.
There is so much pressure in the world we live in to have it all under control, to be on top of things and on top of your game. We admire really successful people without thinking about the sacrifices they may have made to get to where they are. Today there are so many socially acceptable ways to distract ourselves from our uncomfortable feelings. Many people throw themselves into their work, others drink, others watch endless TV or play videogames, all in an effort to keep so busy that they won't have to think about what they are feeling. But uncomfortable feelings don't just disappear.
Mental Health and Physical Health are so closely connected. How we deal with challenges can cause us stress. This stress has a large affect on our physical bodies. It can cause tiredness, headaches, high blood pressure and can also affect our digestive system. Many experience stomach and digestive problems when they experience stress and ongoing stress can lead to serious health problems like heart disease. But there is a way to deal with challenges that doesn't cause us stress. How to do so is the ‘learned skill’ I spoke about earlier.
Counselling is a way of learning these skills. With the professional guidance of your counsellor you can look at the tools you are currently using to manage the challenges in your life and perhaps assess what tools are no longer serving you and find new ones that will. And you don't have to wait until you are in crisis. Equip yourself with the tools and skills you need today to manage tomorrow's crisis. Finding a counsellor to help you through issues to keep your mental health functioning at its best is as important as finding a good doctor to help keep you physically healthy. Just like a car needs a mechanic to keep it serviced and in good running order our mental health needs a check up every now and again too.