Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day – a global awareness day held by the World Health Organisation to shine a light on mental health issues and to give space for people to talk about the work that needs to be done to support mental health efforts across the world.
But away from these incredibly important conversations about policy, funding and stigma, World Mental Health Day has also become an opportunity for individuals to talk about their mental health journeys – both when it comes to getting a diagnosis, and the steps they take to take care of their mind.
While mental health care certainly isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ kind of issue, there’s something to be said for the lessons we can learn from other people’s experiences.
So, to find out more about the different ways you can take care of your mental health, we asked women to share the best piece of advice they’ve ever received about mental health and wellbeing. Keep reading to check out what they had to say.
“Focus on self-acceptance”
“Some of the best advice and tips that I have received are around self-acceptance. We often hear that we should love ourselves and focus on self-care but when you are really low that advice isn’t always helpful.
“Rather than a gratitude journal, I keep a self-acceptance journal. My entries start with ‘I am the one who…’. It’s a way of acknowledging what I did each day without value judgements. It puts less pressure on me to perform wellness and it helps me accept myself as I am in each moment, even when those moments are painful.”
“You don’t need to do things 100% to do them”
“The best advice I’ve ever received is that you don’t need to do things 100% to do them. If you can’t shower, wipe yourself down with a washcloth. If you can’t make a meal, eat a granola bar. If you can’t get out of bed, try to sit up, etc. Incremental progress is still progress.”
“Ask yourself, ‘Will this matter in a month’s time?’”
“I remember a therapist once telling me to ask myself ‘Will this matter in a month’s time?’ any time I’m stressing over something. It’s really stuck with me as someone extremely prone to overthinking and catastrophising, and has saved me countless breakdowns over things that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things!”
“Hold your boundaries strong”
“The best advice I ever received is to hold your boundaries strong and tend them like flowerbeds. When you don’t have them, especially if you are an over giver, you are actually teaching people to take advantage of your time, expertise, kindness and even money.
“Boundaries are there, not to inconvenience other people, but to honour yourself and your energy. When your energy is well managed, your mental wellness follows.”
“Happiness only counts if it’s coming from the inside”
“A quote I always turn to is ‘happiness only counts if it’s coming from the inside’. People can pretend to be happy and you can seem happy to others, but there’s no point just looking happy if you’re not happy on the inside.”
“It’s fine if things don’t happen exactly as you want them to – life is still going to happen for you”
“The best piece of advice my coach gave me is that it’s fine if things don’t happen exactly as I want them to. Life is still going to happen for me.
“This quote really helps in that it empowers me and brings my sense of autonomy and decision making back to me rather than feeling that my life is out of my control. There’ll never be an instance in my life where I can control the outcome of anything other than how I feel, think, behave and how I show up. To that extent life happens for me not to me.”
“Be open and honest with yourself”
“The best mental health advice I ever received was to be open and honest with yourself and to journal your thoughts and brain dump onto paper. That’s where my journaling journey came from.”
“Treat bad mental health days as a normal sick day”
“The most important piece of advice I took away from my time in therapy was to treat bad mental health days as I would a normal sick day.
“It’s easy to feel frustrated or annoyed at yourself when you’re struggling with your mental health, but trying to see my anxiety as I would a sniffly nose or a bad cough helps to remind me that my anxiety isn’t my fault, and helps me to feel less guilty about taking extra care of myself on those days.”
“Having a tough conversation can be a loving act”
“The best advice I was ever given is that you can be loving and leave a relationship. My mental health was extremely affected by an abusive relationship, but once I had left I was feeling a lot of shame about being the one to end the relationship. Hearing that it can be a loving act – better in the long run for both of us – gave me a lot of peace.
“I think it applies to all of the hard parts of any relationship (family/friends as well as romantic) – putting in boundaries, having tough conversations etc are loving acts for everyone involved.”