Your mental health is an essential part of living and wellbeing. Giving it the attention and support it needs to thrive is something you should take seriously.

The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic to our shores in March 2020 resulted in many of us feeling lonely, fearful and anxious. This was a natural reaction to a situation that had never happened before. Not only did people struggle with their emotional state, but many also struggled to make ends meet. These new stresses either sparked off mental health issues or added to an already existing condition.

A “positive” spin-off of the pandemic is the spotlight that has been placed on mental health. Even though most adults would agree that modern living has stresses that can make staying in good mental shape challenging, there is still some shame attached to needing help. Many people keep quiet about their mental health and prefer to work through their problems alone, even when that does not seem to be working for them.

“All adults have some level of stress, no matter their circumstances,” says psychologist Joy Mitchell. “There is this myth that you should be able to cope with everything life throws at you. This is simply not true. At some point, we all need help; it is nothing to be ashamed of,” she says.

What happens when you see a psychologist?
When the idea of getting professional help comes up, most people immediately say no and then shut down. That’s because most of us don’t know what “getting help” really means.

“There is a stigma with therapy because many people think it’s something that is reserved for ‘crazy’ people or people who are not fit to manage their lives. The reality is that therapy is mainly about getting to understand your feelings and the way you can change your behaviour. The root of that help is talking about what you’re feeling so that you can have a better view and understanding of it,” says Mitchell.

While you might say that people from the olden times never went to therapy, the reality is that they also needed help. Modern life has also removed a lot of the natural support systems that people used to help them solve their problems. “Getting help can also mean talking to a life coach, a priest or a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes even a stranger can help you have a breakthrough in terms of how you see things, helping you with how you manage stress and your emotions,” says Mitchell.

Winners ask for help
The fact remains that many of us have struggled or will struggle with our mental health at some point. It’s important to know that you are not alone and that help is available.

Life, like many sports, it’s a team effort. You can’t go very far if you think you need to be in control of everything at all times. “Even though the stigma is that asking for help is for the weak, the reality is that only strong people actually ask for help. If you want to live a healthy life, you need to be able to understand yourself and what you need. And when the time comes for you to admit that you need help, you need to be able to seek it,” Mitchell concludes.

While there are small things you can do to lift your mood, sometimes the solution isn’t as easy as taking a walk outside. You are the only person who can really tell if you need help, so open yourself up to getting the help you need so that you can live your best life.

Should you need more serious help, please consult an expert as soon as possible.

Here are some easy things you can do as a pick-me-up when you’re feeling down:

Your ancestors did it and you probably did it as a child; it’s time to get back into the habit. Here’s a friendly reminder of how it’s done: Grounding is a technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth. Simply put, you need to spend time with your bare feet on the ground. After all, this is how we humans originally lived. There are super benefits to doing this regularly including helping you overcome feelings of anxiety and depression.

It’s suggested that you ground for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, but you can never get too much. Being outdoors is compulsory for this practice and you’ll find yourself looking forward to being in nature and breathing in all that fresh air.

Meditation is the practice of mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought or activity. It’s the act of remaining in a silent, calm state for a certain period of time.

The purpose of meditation is to still your mind in various ways. You can either focus on your breathing, a word you say in your head or even just being silent, preferably with your eyes closed.

There are various free apps available that have guided meditations. Many people swear by meditation and the inner calm it brings. Try it and see for yourself. Apps to try:

This may sound simple, but in reality, most of us don’t breathe at our best, and when we’re anxious our breath tends to be fast and shallow. This puts a further strain on our already tense bodies, leading to an increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension and other physical sensations.

When it comes to using breath to manage your anxiety or depression, there are various techniques you can try. These put your body in a relaxed state, which helps your brain become relaxed too.

Try this simple exercise:

  1. Find a quiet place.
  2. Sit still or lie down and close your eyes.
  3. Keeping the mouth closed, inhale through your nose for a count of four, then hold your breath for a count of four.
  4. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of four.
  5. Repeat numbers 3 and 4 six times.
  6. Open your eyes and feel the difference.

In addition, here are some links to breathing techniques that will help you relax: