Taking Responsibility for Overall Mental Health
Staying healthy means more than eating right, taking your vitamins and supplements, drinking plenty of water and getting exercise. Your mental health has a greater impact on your physical health than you might imagine. Stress can, and often does kill; sometimes directly through heart attacks, strokes, and other organ failures. Too often, it brings about death or disability through efforts to stop the pain with drugs or alcohol, or in extreme cases, suicide.
Until this year, suicide numbers, awareness, and education were improving greatly. There were less completed suicides, and as a result, less people coping with suicide loss. But increased confinement, financial concerns, and a country in shambles because of self-serving, incompetent leadership have sent the numbers soaring again. It broke my heart to read about a mother who took her own life because she couldn’t afford to buy milk for her children. I know it wasn’t the single event, but a culmination of months worth of challenges and failures that made her feel so hopeless and unsupported.
Organizations like NAMI and Give An Hour are working overtime to reach out to people and make sure they know they’re not fighting this battle alone, but their resources and reach are limited. I truly believe if each one of us reached out to one person a week, offering, if nothing else, a listening ear, we could reverse the trend. If we used the internet to help locate resources in our area for a mother who needed food for her child, or to help others overcome unexpected challenges we could stem the tide of suicide and mental breakdown.
Finding Resources When Your Own Aren’t Enough
It isn’t difficult to Google something like “Food Banks Near Me”, or “Health and Family Services Near Me” to locate resources for someone in need, assuming you can’t help them yourself. It takes so little to simply reach out and listen, or share a meal, or even help parents who’ve been confined for too long with small children by offering a diversion, even if it has to be outside with social distancing and masks.
You’re all creative in your own way. Use that creativity to lighten someone’s load. Pick up the phone and call someone you know who has been unnaturally quiet, or who you know is facing more challenges than normal. Everyone needs to be heard so they don’t start embellishing on their problems. When they do, it’s never in a good way. A hill of beans can turn into Mount Everest in short order when someone is left to their own devices and struggles for too long.
I firmly believe reaching out and helping someone else is salvation in itself, but not in the religious sense. Everyone struggles with changes, especially when they’re thrust upon them. The struggle gets harder when the changes are precariously balanced on instability, and the world keeps shifting like the aftershocks from an 8.7 earthquake. Sometimes you have to make your own stability by being the rock someone else clings to until the tide ebbs, and the ground gets a chance to dry out a bit. A structure is stronger when it has many points of contact with the ground.
Making the Most of Technology
Technology has been critical to keeping kids in school, doctors treating patients, families keeping in touch, and many of us staying physically active. Why not make a date with yourself to use that technology to reach out to a friend or family member? You could simply listen, or set up a game night, or entertain their kids. There are plenty of affordable, or even free resources to help.
One of my favorites is Jackbox TV where you can find inexpensive packs of games for multiple players. The ones I’ve played get everyone laughing, and that’s one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself right now when meeting at your favorite restaurant, dance hall, or bar can be hazardous to your health, and where those wonderful, healing hugs create too much risk of passing on a potentially deadly virus you might not even know you have.
Sure, it isn’t optimal, and you are going to miss what you considered normal. It isn’t forever, even if it seems like it as we go into our 8th month. Many are still insisting the precautions don’t help, yet we have seen huge upsurges after mass gatherings over and over again. Then again, there are still people who worship the work of Adolf Hitler. Such disbelief, and refusal to see cause and effect makes it that much more important for those of us who do see positive results from our efforts to continue doing our part to ensure the overall health of our communities.
Helping from the Heart Needs No Reward
You may never see direct results from your effort, but unless you’re looking for physical rewards and recognition for being a kind, compassionate, contributing human, you don’t need it. The satisfaction of helping another human in need out of the goodness of your heart will be enough. Knowing you did everything in your power to help someone else stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit is satisfaction enough.
Perhaps this sounds overly idealistic, but I continue to believe in the overall kindness of humans. Current circumstances might seem to indicate the quality is at an all-time low, but remember it’s the ugliness that gets magnified; that needs to see obvious results when pain is inflicted, and that feeds off pain, misery, and hate. Kindness and compassion need no outward reward, nor do they need to broadcast their acts to the world.
Think about all the times you’ve sat in companionable silence with family or friends. You felt peaceful and loved without a word being spoken. My daughters and I used to curl up in the living room, or my bedroom, each with a book of our own. We might stay that way for hours, breaking the silence only to share a particularly interesting excerpt, or when one of us got up to use the bathroom. There was no drama, no stress, and no one clamoring for attention (except maybe the cats), yet we were all happy. We were all at peace.
I believe that quiet, undemanding support is a healthy component in lives thrown into chaos in many ways. What many people need right now isn’t a marching band or a cheerleading squad. They need a safe harbor; a strong shoulder to lean on until the boat stops rocking; a warm blanket of love to ward off fear’s chills.
Gratitude is its Own Reward
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for my community which continues to provide loving, compassionate support without asking, and which needs no acknowledgement other than that we all continue to stay healthy and strong.
- I’m grateful for long talks with my daughter.
- I’m grateful for the many loving, compassionate, giving people who are working silently behind the scenes, and who need no recognition for doing the right thing.
- I’m grateful for new opportunities which allow me to give more to my community.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, joy, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, dancing, community, peace, health, balance, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.
If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward