What is mental health - does it relate to you?


We’ve recently had Mental Health awareness day, and over here in NZ we’ve also had Gumboot Friday. I think it’s incredible when communities and organisations get behind these days and help raise much needed funding to support those in need AND I also wonder shouldn’t we be celebrating and acknowledge mental health every day of the week?


Over the years there has been a lot of negative stigma around mental health – what it means, who experiences it, and what it means to ‘need’ support in this area of your life. I get that this is something that has been a challenge for many years and we are starting to see shifts, but I feel that stigma is still very present, and having dedicated days where we highlight mental wellness could in fact be adding to it, and deepening the chasm between everyday people seeking the support they need when it comes to their emotional and mental wellbeing.


Let’s dive a little deeper….


How often do you move throughout the week, or think about exercise? How often do you reflect on what you eat and how it makes you feel? And how often do you consider and talk about making changes to either your movement or food choices so that you can improve your health? If you’re like most people, I’d say pretty often.


That is because we know that movement and quality foods influences all of our overall health and wellbeing, and we don’t need a day to remind us of this, nor to raise awareness around seeking support in these areas if we feel we need it.


YET when it comes to our mental and emotional wellness we tend to treat it separately. We tend to think it doesn’t relate to the everyday human and our health.


When I asked people what came to mind when I said mental health I heard:

It's for people who…

  • are mentally ill
  • experience disorders
  • are on the spectrum
  • don’t know how to cope and need help….and that’s not me.


That last one captures the key theme I heard across the board – that people don’t relate the phrase mental health to themselves, it’s for those ‘other people’, yet in the same conversation they would share moments of experiencing

  • stress,
  • anxiety,
  • strong emotions that they didn’t know how to manage, or
  • troubles when it came to setting boundaries or communicating with others which caused distress.


This is very natural. We all experience challenging emotions and thoughts throughout the day, we all experience ups and downs, and just like our physical bodies; our mental and emotional health is something we all require support and access to throughout our daily lives, and should be something we all work on strengthening and developing with as much enthusiasm and willingness as we do other ‘health’ practices.



Moment for reflection...


How different would it be if we invested in our mental and emotional wellness as readily as we did in our bodies? What if we brought the same amount of energy and enthusiasm to discussing and sharing mind-body practices as we do recipes? What if we tended to our emotional and mental wellness as regularly as we did our gyms?


I believe the shift would be incredible. We could shift seeing mental and emotional wellness from being something that is offered and provided only when we hit rock bottom, or for the ‘mentally ill’, and start seeing it as something valuable for all.


And that’s my invitation for you – Consider what you’ve attached to the phrase Mental Health?

  1. Do you have a certain type of person you think it refers to?
  2. Do you consider yourself as someone who would benefit from focusing on mental and emotional wellness or not? Why is that?
  3. What beliefs do you have around investing in yourself when it comes to your mental and emotional wellness?
  4. What difference would it make to your life, and the lives of those around you, if you regularly invested more time and energy on your mental and emotional wellness?  



As always thank you so much for spending this time with me. I hope this topic sparks robust thought and conversations within your homes, friendships, and communities as it has for me - I’d really love to hear what comes up for you.


With love Sarah x

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