Experts share simple dos and don’ts for taking care of mental health

In a welcome change, over the years, mental health has come to be recognized as an essential aspect of one’s overall well-being. While experts say there is still a long way to go, they acknowledge and appreciate that small change. But in this journey, it is equally important to understand and recognize the signs for yourself or those around you and seek help when you need it. As such, we reached out to Shweta Puri, a counseling psychologist, who told us about the dos and don’ts when seeking mental health care.

*DO: Take good care of your body as mental health is linked to your physical health.

It is imperative to exercise daily, maintain good sleep hygiene, and consume anti-inflammatory foods to ensure that your body produces the right amounts of cortisol (the stress hormone) and dopamine (the happy hormone). Can you ,

* DO: Be your best friend and be kind to yourself in the midst of a difficult situation.

We are often good friends with others but we are extremely harsh and critical when it comes to ourselves. Remember that we are human and will make mistakes, that’s how you learn and grow.

* DO: Connect with others. Remember, man is a social animal and we have evolved to be a part of society. Make sure you are connected to friends and family, even pets and plants.

We all realized the importance of being supported and connected with one another by family and friends during the pandemic. So do this. However, focus on quality, not quantity – be with people who see you for who you are.

*DO: Talk about your feelings and provide a safe space for others to talk about them too.

However, don’t try to give advice to people who have serious mental health problems – always urge them to see a professional.

* DO: Publish your thoughts on a daily basis.

As kids, we had our “dear diaries” that helped us deal with the bad days and enjoy the good days—the same practice can still be helpful. Publishing your ideas freely and openly is a great way to download and dismiss ideas as needed. It is an effective method that ensures that we are more in touch with the present moment and less cognitively connected to the past.

*Don’t do this: Invalidate the feelings of others by telling them things like ‘get out of it’ when they are stressed or sad.

The truth is, we may never fully understand or know what a person is feeling. However, we can be there for them when they are feeling those things up, and try to guide them to seek professional help, or even do their favorite self-care activities with them. We can’t always remove the darkness in a person’s world but we can sit with them in the dark.

It is best to seek professional help if you think you are struggling. (Representative)
(Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

* DON’T: Specify mental health as a gender specific illness.

Men are at the same risk of mental health battles as women.

*Don’t: Stigmatize the use of drugs for mental illness.

Don’t believe myths like mental health drugs that make you lethargic and slow. Just as you do not suspect the use of medicines for blood pressure and diabetes, please let the professionals assess the need, duration and dosage of the medicines.

Don’t: Use the terms mental illness casually.

If you like the clean stuff you don’t have OCD, if you don’t eat much on a certain day you are not anorexic. Also, don’t use words like crazy and psychotic casually.

Don’t do this: Underestimate someone struggling with their mental health and deny them equal opportunities in the world.

They can participate equally in all walks of life. They are not inferior. They are not ‘crazy’. Be friendly, understanding and empathetic. Help them be the best version of themselves, help them seek professional help, be kind to them. You may never fully understand the gravity of the fight someone is fighting, but you can avoid adding to their burden and making it overwhelming.

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