Have you ever listened to the instructions about oxygen masks on airplanes? “If there’s a drop in cabin pressure, be sure to secure your own mask before helping others.” This is an analogy to many situations on solid ground, too.
But when home, work, and family responsibilities mount, we tend to place ourselves last on the priority list, putting our mental wellness and emotional health in jeopardy. Whether we’re suffering from emotional distress, have a diagnosed mental health condition, or are simply trying to balance life’s demands, self-care is vital for good health.
It’s important to recognize that while each person’s specific needs are unique, caring for both our minds and bodies must come first. Emotional suffering should not be the norm!
“We need to talk openly, clearly, and without prejudice about mental health so people can get the help they need to care for themselves and live life to the fullest,” says Senior Teladoc Consultant and Psychiatrist Dr. Aron Wolf.
Let’s take a look at how mental health myths are adding to our struggles, and how different forms of self-care—including therapy—can be part of the solution for a more peaceful life.
Mental health myth #1: “I can handle everything all by myself.”
Fact: A treatment plan can make you feel much better.
When people are struggling emotionally, they often try to just “put one foot in front of the other” to complete all life’s tasks. But if you have a condition such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, it’s unlikely that you’ll just “snap out of it” one day. Mental health concerns result from changes in the way your brain behaves. It’s not simply a dip or change in mood. So while thinking positively may help you improve your outlook, establishing a treatment plan will deliver the best outcome.
Brain function can be improved with medication, for many, in combination with talking to a trained therapist or psychiatrist. The path toward health and happiness begins with a commitment to emotional wellness. You are not alone on this journey; our trained professionals are here for you seven days a week.
Mental health myth #2: “This isn’t as serious as a physical illness.”
Fact: Mental health is a legitimate concern and affects many people in significant ways.
When you have cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, seeking out the best healthcare treatment seems like a no-brainer. So why don’t many of us feel that way about illnesses involving our brain chemistry? Sometimes a stigma associated with mental wellness can can create feelings of shame, weakness, or even illegitimacy.
If you’re suffering from a mental health challenge, it’s not a sign of weakness or fragility. It’s caused by genetic and environmental factors that can make daily life stressful and challenging. And you are not alone. One in four American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year.1 These disorders impact the ability to enjoy life and can even have more serious consequences.
There’s no reason to suffer in silence: Mental wellness is just as important as physical health. Just as you’d see a general physician or specialist for an ailment, mental health specialists can offer strategies for coping with life’s stressors as well as more serious disorders.
Mental health myth #3: “There’s nothing I can do to help someone who’s struggling.”
Fact: There are many ways to support people in emotional distress.
As part of the stigma surrounding mental health struggles, many sufferers downplay their symptoms or decide not to speak up about challenges. Reach out directly to anyone who may appreciate the support, pointing them in the direction of professional help.
Also, educate yourself about the particular condition. By learning and listening, you can encourage a loved one to seek therapy and try self-care strategies that improve emotional wellness. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and fewer than 20% of children and teens receive the treatment they need.2
Consider offering to help a friend or family member with challenging tasks, and provide unconditional support along their journey to wellness. Have a crisis plan in place for safety. Continue to treat them with dignity and respect by not labeling them as their disorder.
Self-care strategies for emotional wellness
By following through on a mental health treatment plan, recovery is possible. With support and treatment, between 70% and 90% of people have a significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.1
Part of talking to a licensed therapist is exploring ways to maintain a healthier life. By using tools like positive thinking, open communication, and stress reduction techniques, you can change negative thought patterns and proactively make better choices. Oftentimes therapy, reflection afterward, journaling, meditation, or spiritual pursuits can help bring clarity on the path to wellness. By tending to your own emotional needs, you’ll reap the rewards of a more peaceful and fulfilling life.
Mental healthiness also requires that you pay attention to physical health: Enjoying regular exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and relaxation techniques will positively impact the way your body and mind function. Remember to make time to “fill up your pitcher,” whatever that means to you. Enjoy the outdoors, arts or books, a warm bath, or lunch with a friend. Take breathing breaks during the day to find your calm and refocus.
Updated November 14, 2022