Not so long ago, in a country not so far away, health was viewed in a fairly narrow way. If you had no physical malady, you would be unceremoniously booted from any doctor’s surgery as a time waster.
“Stiff upper lip, son,” they might have said. “Go on home, fix yourself a stiff drink and never mention this again.”
This makes me wince. I find myself in the 1 in 4 Australians who will at some point experience some kind of mental illness, and the idea that you should toughen up seems ludicrous. If you or someone you know has been bitten by the (metaphorical) black dog, you’ll know it has nothing to do with weakness or frailty of mind. It has to do with chemical imbalances in your brain which alter mood and perception. It is about as useful to tell someone with a gaping wound to go home and relax, or someone with a compound fracture to “walk it off”.
As a chemist online Australia, my definition of health couldn’t be further from this. Good health involves physical, mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. Neither one of these can be discounted as unimportant. As a brief aside, I often marvel at the poetry of T.S Eliot, and the way that his anxiety about his spiritual state tormented him for decades until he found satisfactory answers. Whether it be a belief in a God, meditation, or Naturalist explanations for existence, humans need some solid ground to understand existence. But I digress…
I want to focus primarily on mental wellbeing today. There are many things that we can do every day to safeguard our mental wellbeing, and NONE of them are to be found on the shelves of a pharmacy or on the website of a chemist online Australia. As always, I’m not trying to sell you things here; my primary goal is the wellbeing of my community around me. Here are just a few ways you can subtly alter your day to keep that smile on your dial.
- As one of my favourite 90s boy bands 5ive so wisely sang, ‘Get on up, when you’re down… keep on moving”. It is strangely ahead of its time because it is only in the last 20 years that the benefits of physical exercise on mood have been widely circulated. It releases endorphins into your brain which cause you to feel good, boosting your self esteem, helping with concentration and helping you to sleep better. Get on up, when you’re down…
- Watch what you’re eating. There is a close correlation between food and mood, and experts are beginning to label the gut your ‘second brain’. Your gastrointestinal tract has billions of bacteria which create neurotransmitters to tell the brain which chemicals it ought to release. If you’re eating well, the gut tells the brain to produce a happy level of serotonin and endorphins. An unhealthy diet causes an imbalance in the different kinds of bacteria present in your gut, and your brain doesn’t get the message to fire off the happy chemicals.
- Find the things you’re good at, and do them on repeat. Enjoying yourself helps reduce stress, and boosts your image of yourself as someone who is competent and talented. Too often, we find ourselves stuck in a loop of negative self talk. It takes your mind off the thing which is causing you mental anguish, and when we allow ourselves some time off, we can come back with the issue slightly more in perspective. Other options have presented themselves, and it just doesn’t seem so bad after all.
- Talk. One of the worst things we can do is to presume that we can fix all of our problems by ourselves. Stiff upper lip, and all that business… In reality, a problem shared is a problem halved. There is genuinely sound psychological theory behind seeking professional help. Cognitive behavioural therapy (better known as CBT) is a fantastic way to re-wire our brains towards more healthy ways of thinking. It becomes an automatic process, and has been truly revolutionary for millions of people. It could for you too.
- Help out. Research shows that when we volunteer our time and give to others, we tend to feel more positively about ourselves. The old adage that it is better to give than to receive is actually true. It takes our minds off the thing over which we are obsessing, and it can build relationships with others.
These are just the start. There are plenty of things to do, but the start of true change is found in seeking professional help. Here in Australia, this is even easier than you might have guessed.
- Many workplaces will offer a service called the Employee Assistance Programme (the EAP). It offers free counselling services for employees and their immediate family, and it is entirely confidential. Your employer will never know that you have accessed this service, but it can make a world of difference. If you’re comfortable, ask your Human Resources for more information, or google EAP and contact them directly to see if your are covered under this plan
- If not, this is not the end of the road for you. Book in to see your GP and explain your situation. If you have been feeling consistently low or anxious for a number of weeks, your GP will be able to set up a mental health plan for you. This will allow you to see a psychologist of your choosing for a heavily reduced price.
Your mental health is important. Anyone who tells you to ‘suck it up’ has missed the memo about what it means to be holistically healthy. As a chemist online Australia we believe wholeheartedly in supporting you towards better health. As always, if you are experiencing extreme distress in this present moment, please call 000. Anything that threatens your health and safety is a medical emergency. You are valued. You are important. Even if your brain is telling you the opposite, there is someone who loves you.
Yours in health,