Mental health seems to be the buzzword of the moment. You can’t scroll through the news without hearing about it. Finally, the stigma surrounding mental health seems to be lifting slightly, which means more and more of us are talking about it – and for good reason.
Around 1 in 5 Americans suffer from mental illness each year and 1 in 25 have experienced a severe mental disorder that interferes with their day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, according to a recent survey carried out by TAO Connect, only 16.9% of working adults would feel comfortable asking their managers for time off because of their mental health. On the other hand, 81.9% would be fine if it was for physical medical reasons.
Mental health days have been the subject of many conversations this year. Back in June, a CEO’s response to one of his team taking a sick day to focus on her mental health went viral when he praised her for being ‘an example to us all, and help[ing to] cut through the stigma so we can bring out whole selves to work.’
Although this is great progress, we’re not there yet and if you’re one of the 83.1% of people who don’t feel comfortable asking for time off, here are a few ways to help control your mental state. All can be done outside the workplace until you’re happy to talk to your boss about your struggles.
Not everyone enjoys a trip to the gym, but physical exercise has been proven time and time again to help reduce the symptoms of many mental illnesses. One study found that exercise helped participants feel more content, awake and calmer and the biggest effects were on those whose mood was low before they started.
Even if you have no interest in going to the gym, which can be even more of a struggle when your brain isn’t letting you think straight, you still need to get moving. Whether it’s a home workout, time spent playing with your kids or just an old-fashioned walk around the park – it will help.
Assess your diet
Although there is no direct evidence that suggests your diet can improve mental illnesses, we do know that nutrition can play a role in mental health. For instance, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, and seaweed have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, along with other mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and ADHD.
Altering your diet alone won’t solve your problems, however opting for fatty fish, whole grains, lean proteins, leafy greens and avoiding caffeine will aid your other methods of mental health management.
Jot it down
You might have buried your diary deep in the attic along with your other teenage treasures, but it might be time to dig it out again. Studies have shown that expressing your thoughts and feelings with a pen and paper.
Although writing might not come naturally to you, getting your worries down in black and white can help to organize your thoughts and destress your brain which can resolve many anxieties that may crop up.
Whatever you’re going through, remember you’re not alone and there are people around that want to help. Anxiety can be overwhelming, but with a little patience and a lot of self-care, you can take the steps to reduce its often frustrating effects.
For more mental health advice, sign up for the TRAIN for HER newsletter.