Making sure you’re in good physical health is important, but it isn’t the whole picture. It’s just as important that you take care of yourself mentally as well. A lot of people assume that focusing on your mental health is an unnecessary luxury, and they put off taking their mental health seriously until they become overwhelmed. For a lot of us Ghanaians, our mental health is something we’ve never thought about. But if you start small and practice often, you’ll find yourself much better prepared to deal with stress and it’ll be a lot easier to have a positive outlook on life.
1 – #TreatYoSelf
Every now and then, take some time out of your busy schedule and focus on yourself. It could be thirty minutes or three hours; how long you spend doesn’t matter.
All that matters is that you do something that relaxes you and makes you happy. If you love reading, but you haven’t read a book for fun since you were 17, change that. Download an e-book (or get a physical one if you’re feeling retro) and read! You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in yourself, and you might even start a new habit. Binge-watch the latest season of Daredevil (Netflix is in Ghana now so you have no excuse) or go play basketball with the boys.
Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself. If you need some help finding the perfect way to unwind, check out this helpful list of ideas.
2 – Learn How to Deal With Stress
No matter what you do, you will get stressed. It’s a fact of life. There are so many different types of stress–work stress, relationship stress, family stress…there’s even stress from being stressed! Even though you can’t eliminate stress, you can control how you respond to it. Different people have different ways of coping with stress, so you just need to find out what works for you. This article has a lot of really helpful stress management strategies, check them out!
Make sure you’re dealing with stress in healthy ways! Ignoring your issues or turning to drugs, alcohol or food to manage stress are unhealthy stress management strategies. It’s important to address whatever is stressing you out before you can adequately cope with it.
3 – Get Help When You Need It
Sometimes, even when you #treatyoself and manage your stress, you still need some extra help. And that’s okay! It’s up to you to decide who you reach out to, but it’s important that you build up a support system of people you trust and respect. Your family, friends, pastor, mentor–find someone who you can count on, and talk to them about your problems.
If you need a little extra assistance or you find that sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger, there are several trained professionals that can help you out.
You don’t have to be facing serious mental health issues to look for professional help. A lot of stigma still exists around mental health in Ghana, but remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. All providers are bound by confidentiality clauses so you can and should feel comfortable and safe discussing any and all issues with them. If you need help finding psychotherapy providers, please send us an email or see our growing list of suggestions here. Let us know if you have any additions!
Remember that getting help goes both ways too. Be there for your friend when she reaches out to vent about her day, and don’t judge your brother for wanting to discuss his work conflicts. Just like you’d want them to be there for you, you need to be there for them as well.
You might think that none of this applies to you. You’re happy, healthy, and you don’t consider yourself stressed in any way. If that’s the case, great! There’s nothing wrong with that.
But also remember that there is nothing wrong with a little extra help. It’s not selfish or overly self-indulgent to treat yourself to some quiet time every now and then, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with talking to your pastor or best friend if you’re having a rough week.
Take control of your mental and physical health today!
What’s your favourite stress management tip? How do you #treatyoself? When was the last time you vented to a friend? Let us know in the comments.