Over the last couple of years mental health has become a subject that has been widely discussed in the media and something that is now being recognised as real issue. We have featured articles post natal depression and post traumatic stress syndrome in fatherhood over the past year or so.
Our whole lives we have been told about how we should be looking after our physical health by exercising, eating well, taking vitamins etc etc and while these things will, naturally, have a positive affect on our mental health, we are never really told about how we should particularly focus on looking after our mental health. But in the last few years it’s become more apparent that mental health issues are extremely common, and so surely we should be proactively trying to stop or reduce the risk of developing a mental health issue, just how we would do the same to avoid physical illnesses? I think this can be taken even further, not only should we be trying to reduce the risk of mental health illnesses, but actually nurture our minds to be as powerful as they can be, to not only survive but to excel and help us be the best we can be, achieve our goals and live our best life.
As busy people and parents how do we ensure we are maintaining our mental health, in the same way that we are told to maintain our physical health? A few weeks ago we held a daddy debates discussion about how we maintain our mental health and it was probably our busiest debate yet. It was a passionate conversation and in this article I will attempt to summarise the main points that were made!
1. We need to prioritise our mental health
Prioritising our mental health is key. It’s about recognising the importance of working on our mental health and then prioritising it accordingly. I think deep down we know the importance and we have all seen the consequences of poor mental health but we take it for granted and de-proritise it, until of course it’s too late. We need to understand the implications of poor mental health and know that there are ways of controlling it. But we are busy. So we need to consciously make it a priority and factor in time to work on it to ensure we are equipped to not only deal with life but excel and achieve all our goals.
2. Find time each day for affirmations, meditation and other practices to maintain our mental health
Find ways to integrate good practise into your daily life. The key to consistency in anything is making things manageable and realistic so it’s about finding ways to intertwine good practise into our routines. Whether that be on the tube, waking up 15mins early or on our lunch break, there are practices like meditation and affirmations that can be done easily and help us be mindful. Checkout Nicola at www.alifemoreinspired.com for more great tips and products around daily affirmations and soul work.
3. Talking to our friends when we feel down
As men it can be hard to be open about mental health, we are seen as weak if we speak about having issues. Recently more high-profile men have been speaking out though. Stormzy, who is a strong black man, talked about his depression and that really helped to normalise it. Sometimes just being able to speak to a friend when we feel down can make all the difference. Another opinion, some encouragement or just an open and non judgemental ear can go a long way. During the #DaddyDebates discussion, we also spoke about how to be on the receiving end of someone expressing their concerns. We aren’t taught about how to deal with these situations which can be difficult for both parties. This guide from mind.org.uk is a great resource for understanding how to support someone with mental health issues.
4. Recognising when we are overwhelmed and not feeling ourselves
Understanding our moods, thoughts, actions and feelings can help us to recognise when we are not quite ourselves. Once we feel ourselves slipping we can address it before it goes to far. Domuniqua explained how she recognises a change in herself, but these signs will be different for everyone so knowing ourselves is important.
5. Find ways to switch off and mentally escape
We all have a way to switch off, for some it’s easier than others. For me personally I find it hard to switch off sometimes as I have so many ambitions and things I want to achieve. The one thing that I do do to wind down is watch Power! Find what it is that helps you unwind, relax and completely forget about all the pressures and stresses you are carrying.
#DaddyDebates is a debate about all things parenting (and occasionally music and football!). The chats will take place on Twitter at 9pm every Thursday. Follow us on Twitter @MFFonline_ and watchout for the hashtag. We’ll also be posting the debates on our Facebook page and Instagram every Thursday at 9pm so there are multiple ways to get involved!
Written by Elliott