The question posed in the title might seem a little weird because who in their right mind doesn’t think mental wellbeing is important? Surely, everybody knows that feeling okay in the mind is a requisite to feeling okay in general.
Actually, I’m not convinced a lot of people do know that. I would say worryingly few people take care of themselves mentally. The main reason for that, I think, is because there’s a lot of “Oh well, never mind” going on nowadays. I often hear people suggest that they don’t have the time to relax or even think.
It saddens me that the modern world has reached a stage where many of us feel bad for taking time for ourselves. If we aren’t doing something productive or something that benefits other people then a lot of us experience tremendous guilt for it.
Why is that the case? What has us thinking that we don’t matter enough to allow ourselves the time to relax, recuperate, and give our minds a rest? This, to me, is precisely why so many people are starting to succumb to mental illnesses. The scary thing is that there are many out there who aren’t going to their GP about it because they either don’t want to worry people, are against medication, or are worried they’ll be judged thanks to the ongoing stigma, so the stark reality is that there may be more people suffering than the already shocking statistics indicate: one in four people suffer from a mental illness each year!
Thanks to the fact the stigma is on the decline, more people are openly admitting all isn’t well. More people are learning about mental illnesses and accepting those who suffer from them. A person with depression, anxiety, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc., is still a person and still deserves to be treated as such. Yes, they may require certain things to make their lives that little bit easier, in the same way a person with a physical disability does. That, however, doesn’t mean they aren’t a fully functioning human and capable of being successful.
Mental illness aside, mental wellness is something we all need to strive for. It’s a stonewall fact that we can achieve more and be much more resourceful when our minds are well-rested and in a good place. This, technically, isn’t hard to achieve. In practice, it becomes more difficult when you factor in the aforementioned stressors in life and the simple lack of time most of us experience. The case here is simple: you have to take time. It’s absolutely vital! You have to shed the guilt of taking the time to give your brain a rest.
Meditation is a word that some perhaps hear and immediately roll their eyes, likely associating the word with hippies and/or Buddhism. Trust me on this: meditation is the friend you absolutely need. I urge everyone to take ten–fifteen minutes a day to sit in absolute silence and dedicate that time to mindfulness. Concentrate on nothing but the moment you’re in. Forget the past, forget the future. Think about that precise minute of the day. You’d be surprised how few of us really appreciate the present moment because we’re far too busy contemplating past events or thinking about how we can avoid future problems. The present passes us by and we don’t think about it until it becomes the past. That’s quite sad really. I often sit there feeling blue that my son will one day be older and less innocent than he is rather than enjoying him as he is now and making beautiful memories. It’s something I’m learning to shake off.
Aside from mindfulness, there’s the simple act of just doing things you enjoy: a walk in the morning; a coffee and a chat with friends; reading a good book; playing a few games of pool whilst drinking a beer; whatever ‘makes your soul dance’, to borrow the term from a friend of mine. We have to give our mind that chance not to immerse itself in the practical and let it take a break. That’s the biggest weapon we have against stress, the same stress that causes mental health issues. I’m currently sat here typing this out on my laptop in a coffee shop having just drank a hazelnut mocha and eaten a Sicilian lemon muffin. I felt like doing it, so I did. I don’t feel bad for it. Why should I? Never feel bad for taking a few hours out for yourself.
The mind we have is a very important thing. We’ll never have another (unless brain transplants become a common thing). We need to take care of it in the same way we should all take care of our bodies. Feed it with as much knowledge, fun, and love as you can. We aren’t designed to work and be practical all the time.
Why is mental wellbeing so important? Because, without it, you’re either going to live a short, unhappy life, or you’re going to end up in the depths of depression with a very difficult fight on your hands.
In the words of Frasier Crane, good day and good mental health!