mental health

  • Men’s Health Week 2020 – A Perspective on Mental Health

    The lack of awareness about men’s mental health has been alarming to say the least. Through Instagram (@spoonful_of_sarah) I found out it was Men’s Health Week. Confusion. Sadness. Frustration. Apart from her Instagram I hadn’t seen any other promotion of Men’s Health Week.

    I felt conflicted… what should I do? I have a platform. I have influence. However this site, my Instagram had been targeted toward women.

    Should I say something? Did I have a right to say something? Who was I to say something?

    If I wasn’t going to say something who would?

    Off the back of the Black Lives Matter movement, if I stayed silent what did that say about me? What good does that do? If I say it wrong did I at least try?

    So I decided to make a post based and share information about men’s mental health. I had never expected such a huge response from the community. I had hoped if that one man had seen it or one man had been helped then it was all worth it.

    This experience made me really question the stereotypes and assumptions about mental health in relation to men. It made me realise why I only sought to speak to women? Beyond my gender experiences, there are experiences and commonalities that I as a woman also share with men.

    Before diving deep into my personal opinion and take of mental health and men please note:

    • I am not a medical professional and hugely encourage seeing a doctor/psychologist/psychiatrist – their expert advice is invaluable
    • This is my personal opinion and words. A take by a 26 year old female Australian shaped by other factors such as my heritage, life experiences, values etc.

    Toxic Masculinity

    For many men, struggling with a mental health issue means suffering in silence. Declining but still present stigmas around acknowledging mental health issues, as well as problematic ideas of masculinity often play heavily into men’s reluctance to seek help. This isolation can have disastrous effects, including increased rates of alcohol and substance abuse, as well as depression and suicide, which are ranked as a leading cause of death for men.

    the dawn rehab

    As mentioned in the article above, we have seen men in popular culture suffer in silence (at least from an outside perspective); Tragic deaths of men around the world by suicide have been heartbreaking, alarming and awakening such as Anthony Bourdain, Ernest Hemmingway, Kurt Cobain, Robin Williams and Sushant Singh Rajput. May they rest in peace. May we hope that their deaths help and prevent other men from the same outcome.

    Defining Traditional and Toxic Masculinity

    There is a range of masculinity ideologies but most people have often used traditional and toxic masculinity to mean the same things, which are not.

    PSYCHOLOGY TODAY

    Four areas of masculinity in society:

    “no sissy stuff” (i.e., men should avoid anything feminine or associated with females)

    “the big wheel” (i.e., men should strive for success and achievement)

    “the sturdy oak” (i.e., men should not show weakness and handle their problems independently)

    “give ’em hell” (i.e., men should seek adventure, be risk takers, and use violence if necessary).

    Silver, Levant, & Gonzalez, 2018

    It has been discussed that this traditional masculinity ideology reflects the dominant view of the male role prior to the feminist deconstruction of gender roles.

    In fact my partner shared a podcast with me where the group discuss men being gaslighted. It is astounding to think people don’t think men get gaslighted too and that men feel ashamed when they are. A preview of the podcast is below and you can find the full podcast episode too – worth a listen!

    Men don’t have emotions, they don’t cry…

    This is horrible and I believe perpetuated by what we see in the media. So rarely do we see on TV or in a movie a male crying. When we do see emotions it can be on extremes: happiness or anger. Given this lense of life, it can feel strange to see a man cry when really it is not.

    To the men out there – I personally think seeing a man cry is beautiful in a way – like anyone who cries it is a beautiful release, it is cathartic, it is freeing. We are all humans. We are not robots. We all have emotions whether we choose to show it or not. Just know, that it is okay to cry.

    There is nothing weird or unmasculine about it. It takes strength to cry.

    I think this is further perpetuated by dating culture – it’s easy for women to fall into the trap about a guy who treated her wrong, the jerk, the playboy, the charmer, the ghoster, the one who has left you high and dry as if he didn’t feel a thing. Yes that may be the case some times but we never truly know what is going on with another person. Try to see it from the perspective of not taking it personally, everything we experience in terms of our feelings and thoughts are shaped by our own experiences. Some times it really is not personal.

    Further to this the phrase ‘man up’ is really damaging to young men growing up. When men are told this they may think ‘I am not manly because i’m doing X…’ As a society we have to be conscious of the words we use and the power of language. We need to change this.

    Mental illness is caused by a personal weakness.

    A STRONG MAN

    No. A lot of factors play into why people have mental illness. Beyond Blue sums it up nicely for everyone.

    You are not weak for having a mental illness, in fact I think it is fair to say that many of us during our lifetime will experience feeling down or mental illness.

    Everyone’s mental health varies during their life, and can move back and forth along their own personal range between positive and healthy at one end through to severe symptoms or conditions that impact on everyday life at the other, in response to different stressors and experiences.

    BEYOND BLUE

    Men can control their feelings

    Nope. Like other humans, we cannot control our feelings. I like to think of them like clouds, passing by uncontrollably. They are fleeting moments.

    “Emotions are celebrated and repressed, analyzed and medicated, adored and ignored — but rarely, if ever, are they honored.”

    Karla McLaren

    Real men don’t ask for help

    No. They do. It takes strength to ask for help. Even talking to someone is a sign of strength. Whilst at times it may feel like talking about it won’t help the situation it will. You will be surprised by what others have to share about their own experiences and you never know how someone can connect you to someone who can help. The National Alliance on Mental Health sums it up with a great analogy.

    Trying to battle a mental health condition on your own is like trying to push a boulder up a mountain by yourself—without a team to back you up, it’s going to be a lot harder.

    THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL HEALTH

    Your anxiety, depression or feelings will be a burden on others

    Absolutely not. Think of yourself as a friend, you would do anything to help them… why wouldn’t they do the same for you? This is what friends, family members, coworkers are there for…. they are there for support, for help. There are even professions purely based on helping! They go through years of studying, obtaining qualifications and gaining experience so they can help you.

    Men and relationships

    As a huge stressor and cause of potential anxiety and depression for men, If I may offer you some advice that also equally applies to females.

    • When you are with the right person they are going to love you for who you are. Your flaws, your strengths and everything in between. You won’t feel constantly sad, ashamed, angry, fearful etc.
    • Know your worth and do not be afraid of being alone. It is much better to be single then in an unhappy relationship.
    • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Be true to yourself. Honour your feelings. If you partner triggers you or makes you feel upset – discuss! Communicating clearly avoids any assumptions as we cannot mind read!
    • Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Our vulnerability brings us closer together to other people, no one is perfect.

    “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

    Brené Brown

    How as a woman you can help a man you know

    From one woman to another, here are some ways I believe you may be able to play a role to help any man in your life.

    • Truly ask how he is and check in? It is rare for men to discuss their feelings with other men due to stereotypes of masculinity. Create a safe space for him to open up. Truly listen – we don’t always have to have a solution or an answer, he may just want to be heard.
    • Embrace your man and his emotions – reassure him and let him know it’s okay to have feelings, to cry, to be sad, to be anxious, to be depressed, to be down.
    • Educate yourself, learn the warning signs of anxiety, depression and mental illness. Observe any behavioural changes.
    • If you suspect he is down or needs help, with love, kindness and respect, encourage him to see a health professional.

    A special Thank You

    I want to thank my partner, who has allowed himself to open up and be vulnerable with me by sharing his experiences. Thank you, I love you! Thank you for always supporting me, it truly warms my heart.

    In Conclusion

    If you are a man reading this or a woman reading this or a someone – you are not alone.

    Please reach out and speak to someone you know, to a friend, a family member, a health professional.

    “Because in our pain we must find each other – mirror to mirror the grace of our shared humanity, the stunningly broken beauty of our shared grief.

    And you can let your grief see my grief and let our tears mingle into some kind of healing alchemy, and you’ll know what i know.

    That we are never alone.

    I promise. You and me? We are never, ever alone.”

    Jeanette LeBlanc

    Please find further resources in the next section of this article and whenever in doubt you can contact me through the contact page via email or my instagram @inhervitality.

    Resources for Men and Mental Health

    Beyond Blue

    MensLine Australia

    Health Direct – Mental Health Resources for Men

    Whilst these are Australia specific please note a search on the terms “Men’s mental health” will usually produce a fair amount of resources – please do due diligence to check the sourcing for example but not limited to mental health organisations, government departments etc.

    Other articles I have written they may inspire you

    PERSPECTIVE – ANOTHER POINT OF VIEW
    INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES TO CHEER YOU UP
    TODAY IS YOUR DAY

    Click here to read more

  • The power of now during Coronavirus

    The power of now. Thriving during a health crisis of COVID-19 Coronavirus.

    “Repeat After Me: This is not the new normal. This is the now.”

    Nedra Glover Tawwab, THERAPIST

    This quote about how this is no the new normal, this is the now… It had me thinking about the immense power of living in the moment. The power of now in times of Coronavirus.

    Being present.

    How to thrive during unprecedented times. 

    On a site note, what is normal anyway? We are heavily influenced by our upbringing, what we see in the media. What is normal?

    Back to the present moment. 

    What if this global event was a divine message of the universe to you out of your routine?

    A divine redirection, a detour Amazing Race style. An awakening.

    To remind you that you cannot control everything.

    To force you to surrender. 

    To nudge you to flex your mental muscles. 

    To be agile, adaptive and flexible. To remind you of your innate power within, that you can control our perspective and attitude. This applies to life as a whole, not only in times of a global health crisis such as COVID-19.

    When you are stuck in a rut.

    When you are feeling down and helpless.

    When you hit rock bottom.

    When you are at the mercy of events that are beyond your control. The loss of a loved one, the loss of your job, the break up that shattered your soul, the friendship where you were betrayed.

    What does this all mean?

    To be present.

    To be present in order to thrive during times of uncertainty as we globally face now.

    So how do you thrive during a health crisis such as COVID-19/Corona Virus?

    Be present. Be here. Be now. The power of now in times of Coronavirus.

    What a weird yet strangely incredible time, to be alive during a global event such as this. In this very moment, we are all experiencing a global health crisis. You cannot control or plan the future, like any other time, however this crisis gives you clarity on this notion.

    What you can do is be present.

    Feel your broad range of emotions. 

    I feel anxious. I feel scared. I feel hopeful. I feel hopeless. I feel nervous. I feel worried. I feel at peace. I feel positive. I feel.

    What are my current surroundings? What can you see? Is there a scent to the air?

    When eating a meal, what can you taste? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it soft or crunchy? 

    What do you want to remember from this crisis? What is your ideal day? What lifts you up? What drains your energy? 

    Be.

    Instead of feeling frustrated that you cannot plan for the future, why not embrace now?

    Live in the moment. Live in the minute to minute, live day to day.

    Feel your mind, body and soul surrendering.  

    Surrendering to the present moment.

    Surrendering to inner peace.

    Enjoy the present moment. 

    Affirmations for being in the moment

    ♥ I am.

    ♥ I am here now.

    I am present.

    See the silver linings

    As humans we are wired to be bias to the negative unconsciously. 

    A study, Not all emotions are created equal: The negativity bias in social-emotional development by Vaish et. al states

    “…Adults display a negativity bias, or the propensity to attend to, learn from, and use negative information far more than positive information.”

    Vaish et. al

    Whilst it’s in our nature to easily see and feel the losses due to this crisis, there are silver linings.

    You know when you go through a heartbreak and you wish the world around you would stop? Well right now, the whole world is on some sort of strange pause of what you are used to. The whole world is essentially with you. We are all feeling the pain, however we all also have the opportunity to see the positivity in all of this.

    Examples of silver linings:

    Working from home enables a flexible way of living. There’s no commute to work, I can even wear my pyjama pants if I want to! I can easily do little tidbits around the house as a break from work. I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to work from home on a consistent basis and this is an opportunity to see what it is like.

    I have more time in my day as I no longer need to commute or because my work hours have been cut. I have been given more time! I can use this time to rest, to focus on my passions, to work on my projects, to spend time with my loved ones in my household.

    Clarity on what is important to me. This virus has stripped back my daily life. I have time to reflect. The absence of certain activities, products and people in my life makes it clear what I feel is important to my life. 

    Silver lining affirmations

    I can find the positivity amongst the chaos.
    ♥ There is always a positive to every experience in my life.
    ♥ This is an opportunity to have clarity on what is important to me.

    Maintain connection

    We are forced to connect in ways that we may not be used to. The absence of physical presence and touch makes you grateful for all the times you were able to.

    Connect with old friends.

    Connect with people who uplift our spirits.

    Connect with our community.

    You can connect in various ways such as online through Zoom or Skype. Using applications such as Houseparty, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, iMessage. Email. Over the phone. Find a Facebook group or forum to speak to like minded and different people.

    In saying that, you can also connect with yourself.

    You can do this by pausing. By breathing. By reflecting. Being in the present moment. 

    You are here now.

    The power of now in times of Coronavirus.

    Connection affirmations

    There are always ways to connect.
    ♥ I am well connected.
    ♥ I have the opportunity to deeply connect with myself.

    Self care

    Self care can take various forms. With daily life at a pause in this very moment, it is an amazing opportunity to take care of yourself. 

    “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook.” 

    PsychCentral

    Examples of self care

    + Resting. Doing nothing at all.

    + Doing what nourishes your soul. That could be for example yoga, making a tea, having a bath, calling a friend, reading a book, journalling.

    + Speaking kindly to ourselves and melt away the negativity. Challenge your mind to see the positivity of a situation. For example instead of “I’m bored”, “How lucky am I to have an opportunity to find something to do. My options are a, b, c etc.”

    Self care affirmations

    I am important.
    ♥ I love myself

    ♥ I take care of myself.

    Pursue pleasure, set fire to your soul, to your life

    With the gift of time, give yourself permission to explore and focus on your self.

    Pleasure is defined as “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.”

    Pleasure comes in different forms.

    During a time like this, I’ve definitely felt guilty when I’m doing nothing… the below passage by Ella Jane in her article, “Can we stop trying to optimise our isolation?” really spoke to me.

    “The idea that we are supposed to continually self-optimise, even in the face of a life-threatening pandemic, is surely the dark underbelly of the hustle-culture we find ourselves in in 2020. We’re living in an age where each hour has been broken down for us in order to commodify our waking seconds.”

    ELLA JANE, RUSSH

    I think we can collectively agree that the age of COVID-19 is simply a terrifying time to be alive, and that tending to your basic needs while coping with so much is more than many people can handle, let alone the pressure of using each spare second to optimise our existence.

    LLA JANE, RUSSH

    We are all uniquely experiencing this moment.

    I’ve accepted and surrendered to the fact, at times I will feel like resting and doing nothing. At other times I will feel like being productive.

    No matter which it is, I hope the following questions will help you in pursuit of what you find pleasurable.

    + What is something you’ve always wanted to do or do more of? 

    + What makes you feel more alive? 

    + What makes you tingle with happiness?

    + What makes you excited to wake up in the morning? 

    + What makes you radiate positivity? 

    + What makes you smile?

    + What energises you?

    Pursuing your passion affirmations:

    ♥ I pursue my passion with zest and fire.
    ♥ I am radiantly alive.

    ♥ I feel so alive. I am full of energy. I am magnetic.

    In conclusion on the power of now, embracing uncertainty and thriving during a health crisis

    That concludes 5 tips on how to thrive during a health crisis such as COVID-19/Corona Virus.

    + Be present. Be here. Be now.
    + See the silver linings
    + Maintain connection
    + Self care
    + Pursue pleasure, set fire to your soul, to your life

    More affirmations to help you get through this uncertain time of COVID-19

    The power of affirmations to live a soul fulfilling life

    27 Calming affirmations and mantras for acceptance

    Struggling with anxious thoughts? Here are 22 powerful affirmations to reframe your thoughts for a positive mindset

    46 Affirmations to radiate self love

    Additional resources to help cope during this unprecedented time of COVID-19

    Coronavirus Anxiety: Coping with Stress, Fear, and WorryHelpGuide

    Coronavirus: Resources for anxiety, stress & wellbeing – Black Dog Institute

    Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service – BeyondBlue

    Decoding The Power of NowEckhart Tolle

    Click here to read more

  • Struggling with anxious thoughts? Here are 22 powerful affirmations to reframe your thoughts for a positive mindset

    Firstly, I want to reaffirm something deeply in your mind. It is normal to struggle with anxious thoughts from time to time. This article will help you reframe your thoughts for a positive mindset when you are struggling with these anxious thoughts

    What is anxiety?

    Beyond Blue defines anxiety as the below:

    “Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.

    Everyone feels anxious from time to time. When anxious feelings don’t go away, happen without any particular reason or make it hard to cope with daily life it may be the sign of an anxiety condition.”

    Disclaimer on anxiety, please note

    I use the below affirmations when I have an anxious moment to calm and recenter myself. It is important to note that affirmations are one tool amongst many that may be used to help with anxiety. The ones below are a general resource and are are not a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric or medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor and other qualified mental health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition such as anxiety.

    How these powerful affirmations may help when struggling with anxious thoughts

    • Reframe your mindset with an alternative perspective
    • Calm and recentre yourself
    • Inspire an uplift in mindset geared toward positivity, a reminder on what affirmations are here and how they help you live a soul fulfilling life
    • Provide a counter narrative to anxiety provoking thought
    • Pause and diffuse a moment of stress and tension

    22 Powerful affirmations to reframe your mindset when you are struggling with anxious thought

    ♥ I attract positive energy.

    ♥ I am strong. I am resilient. I can do hard things.

    ♥ I am in the process of making positive changes.

    ♥ I am brave.

    ♥ I am overwhelmed right now but this shall pass.

    ♥ I have the power to change.

    ♥ Everything is going to be okay.

    ♥ I have overcome many challenges and obstacles before in my life. This will be no different.

    ♥ I can’t control everything but I can try change my thoughts, attitude and perspective.

    ♥ I have accomplished so much up to this point in my life and I will continue to succeed.

    ♥ I am always learning. I will continue to grow and evolve.

    ♥ I trust myself to make the best decision at this moment in time.

    ♥ I feel anxious and that is okay. We all feel anxious at times.

    ♥ I feel confident in my ability to solve problems.

    ♥ I trust in the universe that I will thrive.

    ♥ I am open to change

    ♥ I let go of the need to be perfect and I know I will do my best.

    ♥ I know that I am doing my best given what is happening right now.

    ♥ I am doing the best I can.

    ♥ Mistakes happen and that is okay. I will learn from my mistakes for a better future.

    ♥ Change helps me realise my potential.

    ♥ My mistakes help me grow and improve for the future.

    In conclusion on struggling thoughts due to anxiety and using affirmations

    These 22 affirmations may help you reframe your thoughts for a positive mindset as they have the ability to calm you down, allow a pause to diffuse tension, provide an alternative counter narrative and inspire an uplift in mentality.

    It is so important if you are struggling with these thoughts on a regular basis and if they impact your daily life, please seek the help of a medical professional who will be able to help you.

    Additional resources for when you are struggling with anxious thoughts 

    Click here to read more