Do you find it confusing when people speak about mental health? If you do, I invite you to go on this journey with me to uncover some confusing and sometimes unhelpful ideas about mental health. Although mental health has become a hot topic of discussion, we often fail to consider the cultural difference that occasionally gets in the way and make it hard to explain. Born of immigrant parents myself, mental health was avoided and never discussed in my family.
Mental health applies to how we think, feel and behave, which impacts our relationships, daily activities and physical wellbeing.
We all desire a good life where we grow, contribute to our family, friends and community, utilize our gifts and face adversities well. However, how we cope with our mental health depends upon the frequency, quantity and intensity of the stress, anxiety or depression we might face.
Sometimes, life events can quickly spiral out of our control, making us prone to developing a mental health disorder regardless of age, gender, income or ethnicity. Painful experiences and memories can overpower the body and mind, and avoiding or silencing our pain can lead to uncomfortable emotions. For immigrants, struggling with mental health is normal when we consider all the stress accompanying immigrating from another country. Immigrants must endure the fear of the unknown, concern around job loss, and new routines and changes. These have also been magnified by the feeling of fear, sadness and anxiety caused by the pandemic.
This can quickly lead to a mental health disorder. This disorder can be caused by negative childhood experiences, environmental factors that impact our genes, medical conditions, along with social and financial struggles, which have a way of affecting how our bodies and mind respond to stress.
Mental health disorders are not connected to being strong or weak. In fact, when we become triggered and feel emotionally overwhelmed, expressing our feelings becomes difficult, especially with language and cultural barriers. Despite these unique challenges, you can take care of your mental health with the tips below.
Tips to improve your mental health
- Ask for help; you don’t have to do it all alone. Your mental health is not connected to you figuring life out on your own
- Focus on the things you can change, and do not spend a lot of time thinking about what is outside of your control
- Learn to forgive yourself. We are all a work in progress and if you need to forgive someone else, focus on how forgiveness will help you in the long run. The first word in forgiveness is FOR. Remember, it’s “for” you and not them.
- Take a break by taking a step away and breathing. It can help you see the situation differently.
- Recall what you are most grateful for daily. When was the last time you noticed the little things around you that you are most grateful for?
- Maintain healthy social connections with friends and family through emails or planned chats. Positive supports are vital for your wellbeing.
- Feed your mind, and learn something new often. Learning something new can nourish your sense of purpose.
- Get enough sleep. Make an effort to eat healthy foods and move your body regularly. Schedule a walk, develop a workout routine or a spiritual practice.
Want to get started on the journey to better mental health? Pick one of these tips and begin working on it today, one little effort at a time. This is a space of growth and opportunity, and I look forward to our journey together.