I’ve been concentrating on refreshing and nurturing myself recently and feeling strong. It’s amazing how rediscovering the simple things can help ones wellbeing.
Feeling the earth between my fingers and the wind in my hair, reconnecting with friends and family, dancing like no one is watching and lots of sleep enabled me to acknowledge that I can’t do everything or be everything to everyone. All I can do is ‘my best’ and this period of time out gave me permission to accept that my best is enough. However my best today will not be my best next week or next month as part of my wellbeing requires continuous improvement as goal setting and the journey to achieve these goals is important to me.
Mental wellness should be our life plan, much like when babies are born we wish them health and happiness.
Last week was mental health awareness week in New Zealand and the messaging was all around a wellbeing model ofMaori Health, Te Whare Tapa Wha; based on a whare (house) with good foundations and four equal sides so it can be strong and balanced. The four sides are represented as taha wairua (spiritual health), taha tinana (physical health), taha whanau (family health) and taha hinengaro (mental health). During the week New Zealanders were reminded to recharge and reconnect in the following ways, much like I have done recently.
- Recharge with others to improve family and social wellbeing.
- Taha Whanau: reconnect with people you care about both family and friends.
- Rediscover everyday wonders.
- Taha Wairua: improving your relationship with your environment and heritage.
- Return to nature.
- Taha Whenua: connection with the land, animals and people.
- Refuel your body.
- Taha Tinana: improve physical well being as how you feel and care for your body can help you feel mentally well.
- Refresh your mind.
- Taha Hinengaro: Full your mind, feelings and thoughts with learning can help you cope better.
Mental illnesses are medical conditions which we don’t tend to talk about, unlike someone with the condition of diabetes or heart disease. It is imperative that we do take the time to ask the question ‘Are you OK?’ then listen and be there when required.
It is tragic and deeply saddening, having attended a number of funerals within the last few years where the deceased took their own lives and hearing close friends sharing their shock, anger and heartache, having had no idea of the medical condition and their struggle. Each one of these services celebrated amazing people who achieved great things, they had wonderful families and friends, they laughed, they shared adventures, they appeared happy and fulfilled, they contributed to their community and society, they were loved and adored, they meant a great deal to many people who would have been there if asked.
Listening to those amazing tributes reminded me of the lyrics from the Bruno Mars song ‘Count On Me’.
You can count on me
Like 1, 2, 3
I’ll be there
And I know when I need it
I can count on you
Like 4, 3, 2
You’ll be there
‘Cause that’s what friends are supposed to do
I am not naïve, there are no simple answers, many loved ones battle tirelessly to provide hope and support for them but their internal struggle may not always enable them to connect with this love. Perhaps by talking about mental illness on a regular basis we can help to normalise the conversation so it will not be seen as taboo by those suffering.
Mental wellness is a privilege that takes energy and effort and most of all it takes a community. We all need to look out for ourselves and others as life can be tough and support is a source of hope. Let’s all pledge to be there for each other.
If you need support with your mental wellbeing here are some links from the New Zealand Mental Health Foundation (more on their website)
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Healthline – 0800 611 116
Samaritans – 0800 726 666