One out of five U.S. adults experience a mental health illness each year. That could be in the form of depression, anxiety, or just stress. Although this is a serious subject, everyday people are asking themselves, “How do I handle this?” At the end of this article, I hope to shed some light on this topic. More than that, give you some tools I used to deal with my everyday struggles. I want to improve your physical and mental health and give you a little background on myself.
When you’re a child growing up, you go to school to get an education that will lead to a job that can help you support yourself or your family. What school doesn’t prepare you for is the harsh reality of life.
No one teaches you what happens if you get a four-year college degree but can’t get a job in the field you graduated. No one prepares you for the unexpected lay off from a job you were loyal to for years, and now you have to figure out how you can support your wife and children.
No one prepares you for the mental or physical abuse that you may encounter from family, spouse, or even online on social media. What about the people diagnosed with a disease they didn't expect? Who prepares you for these struggles? How do you handle these situations when you are in the midst of them?
The Learning Curve
Starting at an early age, I had to learn how to deal with mental health. Children can be cruel sometimes; especially, if you stand out or look different from the crowd. Learning how to self empower and train myself on self-love became a tool for me to cope with everything going on in my life.
I was not one of the popular children by any means. I was teased in school because I was different from the other children. That meant being chased home by bullies that wanted to fight me. I also had abuse at home because violence was the only way my family knew how to solve their problems.
A few things I adopted that helped me along the way were movies, tv shows, books, and as crazy as it sounds, talks with myself. We will get into each and discuss how I use these methods to help me with my mental health and everyday struggles.
Change the Mindset
TV shows or movies are great outlets to put the mind at ease and lift depression. I tended to watch family and superhero oriented programs. This gave me a temporary escape and satisfaction, watching an ideal life and family I wanted for myself.
Even though it was not a reality in the moment, seeing with my eyes that it was possible to live a better life gave me hope that my situation was temporary and that it could get better. It is all about changing the way you see, and it can help you change the way you think.
Superheroes, such as Superman, gave me a role model and inspiration that I can one day be the change that I wanted to see. Not in the sense of having powers but what they stood for, such as loyalty, trust, safety, and happiness. All aspects that I wanted in my life.
The Best is Yet Unwritten
Books were another tool I used to improve my mental health. I read a lot of genres about people’s road to success and the things they overcame. It taught me how to see things from another person's point of view.
While I read books on people who once struggled throughout their lives and how they were able to overcome and deal with adversity, it gave me hope that I was not alone. If they were able to pull through their situation, I didn’t see why I would not be able to as well. While I was figuring out the aspects of my situation, knowing there was light at the end of the tunnel gave me hope and the strength to continue to go on.
Know thy Self
Now the final tool I used was self-reflection. I remember spending days in my room by myself, reflecting on every situation I was in and asking myself, “WHY.” “Why am I feeling anxious? Why are these kids making fun of me and bullying me? Why am I getting abused at home?” With the most important question, “How can I make it all stop?”
I spent countless times wondering and wishing, day in and day out, trying to understand how I can make things stop. One day after having these deep self-reflection moments, things started to become very clear to me that I did not see or realize before.
This newfound information that I now had, I could use to come up with plans to accomplish my objectives. Notice, I used the word “plans” with an `s` meaning more than one. So, if plan A was to fail, I had a plan B. Plan B was to reinforce Plan A because failure was NOT an option.
The Road to a Better Place
There are a lot of tools that can help you with mental and physical health. If you remember these three important steps, I believe these can help you throughout your journey.
As a recap, the steps/stages are;
Know yourself and morale and do something to engage and uplift your spirits
- This can be movies, music, reading, meditation, prayer, yoga, or whatever you can do that takes you to a place where you are at peace. In the movie, Happy Gilmore, they referred to this as your “happy place.” The goal is to keep the mind, body, and spirit at ease.
Learn how to see perspective from all sides to help with your understanding
- I utilized books when I was a child to get a better understanding of things in life that I knew very little about. This can be a good outlet as well today, along with “a good ear.” Taking the time to listen to someone can go a long way to understand a situation when trying to come up with a resolution.
Self reflect and come up with plans to overcome your situation
- Know yourself better than anyone else. You are the expert on how you feel and know what you are going through—knowing the what and why is key to being able to know how to overcome a situation. Sometimes people can have a talk with themselves, or you can utilize therapists, support groups, or hotlines where you can get the support you need as well.
The most important thing to remember is to pace yourself. You do not have to figure everything out overnight. I have been working on myself since I was a child, and I still have a long way to go, so you are not alone. No matter what life throws at you, whether its work, relationships, or COVID-19, remember…