So, let's talk about Mental Health!

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This Moon Memo has been written by Hannah, our marketing whizz, on the subject of mental health awareness day. She has found it to be so incredibly important for people to be open and honest with how they are feeling and this seems to be the best time to discuss this with our audience:

Many of us have suffered from certain issues on the spectrum of mental health. Now, that is what I feel mental health awareness day should be about, allowing people to realise that there are different strengths if you like, of these issues. Mental health should not be viewed or understood to be a black and white matter. There are so many different shades of grey in between. Suffering from depression does not always mean you can’t get out of bed and don’t see any enjoyment in any activity at all, likewise suffering from anxiety does not always mean you have panic attacks every day and can’t leave the house. A spectrum means there are different levels and I think that is what is needed to be understood.

I think the main battle we, as a generation face is the lack of understanding. I am classed, within society, as a millennial, meaning, I was born between 1982 and 2004… 1993 to be exact so smack bang in the middle. We have enormous stresses and pressures placed upon our shoulders and are just expected to ‘keep calm and carry on’. From a personal point of view, I highly place the blame on society. This attitude of just follow the crowd and be a sheep… go to University, it’s what everyone does, it’s what you have to do to get a job, find a normal job (what even is a ‘normal job’?). Yes, I did go to University and yes I was fortunate enough to get a job but I had no hope of ever increasing my minimum-wage salary after my first year. I tried about 4 different jobs within the space of 18 months, placing so much hope on finding my dream job, finding my place in society, finding where I should fit in. This anxiety completely encased my mind, it meant I no longer found much joy in what I was doing in the present but was always focusing on the future. Then when I thought about the future, I got anxious. Vicious cycle, right? People my age, men and women alike, are experiencing more and more societal pressures, meaning it is inevitable we are heading towards becoming an ever-increasing anxious generation.

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But all is not lost, I have found that there are many ways in which we can try to combat anxiety. Now I’m not a medic and I cannot say that these will work for everyone, but what I can say is that they have certainly worked for me.

Exercise. You’ll find a lot of blogs, and the NHS website, which will state that exercise is number one on the list, and my word it works. I am fortunate in that I love exercising and I enjoy going to the gym so this one wasn’t too hard for me to follow, but likewise it didn’t give me the immediate boost that it would provide for someone who doesn’t usually exercise. One good thing about going to the gym is that you can go alone, you can go with someone or you can take part in exercise classes which means you can then meet people. Win-win all around. I’ll be honest, it took me a good while to pick up enough courage to try out exercise classes on my own but once you take the plunge, you’ll realise they’re not all bad, they’re actually pretty fun! The endorphins released when you exercise mean you get happy, and when you are happy you feel good about yourself and forget about other things going on in your life.

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Food. Try your hardest to avoid comfort eating foods which are bad for you, they’ll make you feel good at the time but the guilt always came after for me. Another vicious cycle. My mum always taught me to have the attitude of a little bit of everything is what you should have in your diet. And it’s so true. I never deny myself of any kinds of food, if I want chocolate or wine, believe me, I’ll have it. But it’s also true that absorbing healthy foods into your system will make you feel better. It’s about feeding your brain, and your heart, the right kinds of food. Healthy brain means healthy mindset. Oh, and clearer skin.

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Hobbies. Find yourself something which you enjoy. Now, I’m not going to lie, this is much trickier than it initially sounds…if you don’t already have a hobby. I was in this particular boat and found I then got stressed and anxious about not knowing what it was I actually enjoyed doing. Do not stress about it. You’ll eventually figure out what it is you enjoy! For me, I enjoy going on evening walks (rain or sunshine), painting, playing netball (social interaction too!) and cooking/baking (so I created a food-based Instagram account). Hobbies can be anything, anything at all which you enjoy doing which make you feel better and happier as a person.

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One day, you’ll realise that you may always have anxiety and it may always be present in your life. But the goal is to allow yourself to be able to live with it and not let yourself be overcome by it. Think of anxiety as a stressy friend, you need them in your life to keep you on the right path, but you don’t need them all the time so that they overpower you. It’s a hard balance to get, but we’re all working towards achieving it. Personally, I haven’t yet found the exact right balance for me but I’m getting there and I know there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Hannah SutcliffeComment