Good morning and happy Saturday! Today is World Mental Health Day and as you know, I am passionate about mental health and wanted to share something about it with you.
Yesterday I listened to one of my favourite podcasts – Motherkind – and Zoe was talking about hope and kindness. Something she said really struck a chord with me and I thought I would share a few of my thoughts with you today. I recommend a listen to the episode as well with guest, Bernadette Russell, as I loved what they were talking about.
Some of the symptoms of depression include:
This list isn’t exhaustive and different people will experience different symptoms. You do not need to be experiencing all these symptoms to have depression. At the same time you are bound to feel some of these symptoms at times. We cannot expect to live a full life without occasionally feeling sad, anxious or irritable. As humans we should expect that at different times we will feel every part of the full range of emotions.
To hope is to place trust in the potential of something good happening. You are placing trust in yourself, to make the best choices you can to make a positive outcome more likely and sometimes trusting others to work with you for that. It was a comment made about hope on the podcast that got me thinking about this topic. Zoe said that to be hopeful, we have to be brave, and that is so very true, but also very hard.
Comments often made about choosing not to be hopeful include
‘If I hope for it too much it will never happen’ and
‘I won’t think about it as if it doesn’t happen I will be distraught’
These can apply to so many different situations for different people. We try and protect ourselves by refusing to hope and that way, we will avoid disappointment if it does not come to pass. But in doing that we also deprive ourselves of being able to feel excited and to feel joy. We do not feel as happy as we would do for something we have been hoping for. We lose out on feeling a sense of achievement after working towards something we have hoped for.
While this will apply at different times throughout our lives, I think it is particularly relevant now. In the current climate, it is super hard to allow ourselves to hope for good things. At the moment we do not know what is going to happen from one day to the next, never mind looking ahead any further than that.
I think one particular thing that I know is playing on my mind at the moment is Christmas. Currently the rule of 6 applies here and I know that in some places, local lockdowns are still in place. We are all wondering whether we will be able to see our families, whether the rules will be relaxed for one day or whether, if the situation gets worse again, we will all be back in full lockdown.
It is bound to be an anxious time for everyone, but worrying about it now, does us no favours. We cannot predict the future and we do not know what the situation with Covid will be by then. By choosing to worry about it, we only make ourselves feel worse in this interim period. Whatever will be, will be and we will not be able to change it ourselves, aside from doing what we have been asked for now, such as wearing a mask in public places. As opposed to expectation, hope does not depend on certainty, but rather it is the belief that something good and positive could happen.
I am choosing to be hopeful. As a person who deals with anxiety on a regular basis, this isn’t an easy choice to make, but the other option is to be worrying and feeling sad about what might be the situation for the next 2 months. I am being brave and making plans, buying presents and decorations and planning what we will be doing while we have the kids. I will book the special day out we always try and do. It might not go ahead but I know I will feel much worse if i don’t book it and we miss out, as opposed to it being cancelled because of something out of our control.
Obviously this is one example of this, but it is a pretty good example of something that will be affecting the majority of us at the moment. However, it can be applied to many other situations and areas of our lives. Hope can be motivational, it can help us tackle negative thoughts and it can encourage belief in ourselves. It can make present, difficult situations more bearable, as not only do we envision something better, but we can take steps for this to become more likely too. Research shows that optimistic people are more likely to enjoy life and be more fulfilled. It can also relieve stress which could otherwise lead to severe health problems.
So my message to you on World Mental Health Day is to be brave and to hope. Hope to have a great Christmas, hope for an end to this horrible virus. Hope for your health, your new job, a baby, good assignment results, that your favourite TV series ends the way you would like, that your favourite act wins BGT or your child has a happy week at school. Things that can help you to be more hopeful include:
I hope you have found this post helpful and motivating. It takes a brave person to start hoping for more, but we all have it in us, and the more we do, the more it will grow.
If you are struggling with your mental health there are lots of places out there where you can find support. Please check out my post – WHERE CAN I FIND SUPPORT FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH? – for more information. Take care and keep safe,