Mental health Awareness week
14th – 20th May 2018 is officially Mental Health Awareness week in the UK. Put simply, it’s a call out to society to be more mindful and aware about stress. Think about how we’re coping with it as part of our daily lives at home, work and in our relationships. For the African heritage community I think this is a great topic and opportunity for reflection. Traditionally the mere mention of “mental” freaks us out, and we automatically jump to thinking about insanity – a big societal taboo. For mums in general I believe we are at great risk of developing serious mental issues. This is largely because of societal pressures and expectations which are high. We are also notoriously bad at “giving ourselves a break”, because we’re so acutely focused on looking after everyone else, that we often end up forgetting ourselves. So let’s talk about this a little bit.
Being of a sound mind
Stress is hard to define but is often recognised as situations or events that put pressure on us, or our reaction to being placed under pressure. Being in a constant state of stress if not checked and managed properly can negatively affect our emotional state – anxiety or depression, and/or our physical state – insomnia, fatigue, headaches or stomach problems. Mums are one group who by nature of what we do (juggling home, children, various family and relationship dynamics, very often work and our own businesses), are at high risk of becoming overwhelmed by these pressures. There’s a lot of focus (and rightly so) on promoting mental awareness in the workplace and safeguarding our children’s emotional wellbeing. I’m humbly reminding, let us as master caretakers of so many precious loved ones, not play the stupid or unwise shero by neglecting our own mental wellbeing. If we don’t prioritise our “being of sound mind” (make it top not last on the list), then we’re ultimately failing those we care for.
5 tips to good mum mental health
- Love you – seriously love you. Take some time to reflect on who you are, what makes you tick, your strengths, your weaknesses, your passion, what lights your fire, what is your purpose etc. Reconcile yourself with yourself uncovered, so you know what you need to work on to change or improve. Then do yourself a favour and love yourself.
- Delegate where you can – Mums everywhere are doing the super juggling act of trying to hold everything and everyone together. Many of us mistakenly think that unless we’re managing and doing everything, we’re not doing a good job. WRONG! That’s penny wise, pound foolish, and will land you sick in bed or hospital. Get your children involved in age appropriate chores, get your husband/partner involved as well, make sure you’re not left carrying the load for everyone at work. By doing so you are empowering and teaching others valuable life lessons (doing their fair share),and spreading the workload to make things easier on yourself.
- Make time for you
I know it’s hard, and you’re busy, but if you can squeeze out time (even when you don’t think you have time) for your loved ones, you can squeeze time out for you. We also make the mistake of thinking it’s got to be a big gesture like going to the spa, or going on holiday. Actually it can be little things, but intentional and consistently done, like watching your favourite sitcom undistracted, going to bed early, meditation, talking a walk, catching up with one of your friends for. I came across some beautiful self-care checklists from a graphic designer named Keira Bui. Simple but beautifully crafted reminders you can print off, or put up on your wall. Check out her stuff at www.keirabui.com
- Be kind to yourself – You won’t always have your -ish together. Heck you might even have days when you fail miserably at things you would usually do with your eyes closed. It happens to the best of us so give yourself an emotional and mental break. Be kind to yourself by making out time for you (as above), forgiving yourself and others when things don’t go as planned.
- Let it go – Frozen does have a point. You have to let some things go. If you didn’t manage to wash the dishes, clean the floors, make dinner, sort the laundry because you were tired, it’s okay, let it go. You can wash the dishes tomorrow. If you’ve been bottling up stressful feelings, at some point you have to let it go Yes we do have meltdowns. If for example you’ve held in anger or frustration about your children or work, talk to someone or people you can trust. You’d be amazed how many mums are going through similar things and can even give you tips. As far as is possible (and it is possible), forgive that person or thing done to you. It’s more for your mental health than the other person.
Happy Mental Health Awareness week finest mums. Let’s remain aware of our mental state, and prioritise taking care of ourselves. It’s so important Better you = Better Us
For more information about Mental Health Awareness week, and information about mental health, check out the links below.