Alexa: ‘I think you want to hear the song I’m losing my my mind.’
Do you ever feel like everything is becoming ‘too much’ in life? If yes read on. If no, wow how great it is to be you, please stop flaunting you’re amazing-ness here.
But seriously poor mental health affects everybody at some point in our lives so we must all read this no matter what your current state of mind. According to Mind U.K. statistics show that 1 in every four people experience mental health problems in a year. Say there are 20 people in your cast, that’s five whole people that could potentially be suffering, and one of them could be you. According to the NAMI 1 in every five adults experience mental health issues in America within a year. Due to these statistics don’t you think we should all educate ourselves on the matter of mental health and self-help? I sure do.
‘WTF is a Mental Health Problem?’ - I hear you cry...
Having a mental health problem doesn’t mean you are ‘crazy’ or ‘weird.’ That’s far from it really, it’s one of the most normal things going, but people are too scared to talk about it. Usually, the people who label such people as those things haven’t got an understanding and are most likely suffering themselves, so we must be most kind to those people as they’re usually the one suffering the most.
The most common mental health problems are anxiety and depression. As performers, we all know we experience that dreaded anxiety feeling from time to time which is normal given the job we are doing but unfortunately, sometimes it gets the better of us, and it can become debilitating. Depression is also ubiquitous too and also can be mixed with anxiety. Depression usually comes across as a person being lazy, but this is a result of fatigue which is a symptom of the illness.
Anxiety Symptoms Depression Symptoms
Nausea Feelings of Hopelessness
Panic Attacks Weight and Appetite Changes
Dizziness Insomnia or Over Sleeping
Sweating Anger or Irritability
Weak/Tiredness Loss of Energy and Motivation
Problems Sleeping Anxiety and a Worry
Restlessness Trouble with decision making
Anxiety and depression are only a small part of mental health issues; there are an array of mental health issues, and many people don’t even know they are suffering.
Ok great, I understand a bit about Mental Health now, but what do I do when I’m not feeling good?
These methods are all tried and tested by yours truly...
I’ve experienced Anxiety, depression, and OCD from a young age and I would personally recommend seeking out Therapy when you are ready. Even if you feel like there is nothing to talk about there always is. Sometimes I find it is just great to offload and get everything off your chest. I find it easier for someone who doesn’t know you too as they can’t judge and they often help you put things into perspective.
I also find meditation very helpful. I use apps such as headspace and Calm for guided meditation sessions daily to keep me calm and grounded. A lot of people are ignorant to the idea of meditation, but it is scientifically proven to reduced levels of anxiety.
Exercise is also excellent when you are feeling low, believe it or not. Once you get out of the door and to the class or the gym that’s the hardest but some, then you can enjoy an hour or so of exercise while releasing those endorphins.
Writing your thoughts down also helps too. This is something I struggled to do for a long time but when you get thoughts out of your head and onto the page things become easier, and you can figure out whatever you are going through a lot easier and they don’t seem as scary, when we don’t share how we are feeling our minds like to blow everything out of proportion and make it a bigger issue that it is. Silly minds.
Just simply chatting to friends can be enough. Getting things off your chest and talking to someone you feel comfortable with can be a great help. Remember to ask your friends how they are doing too. Let people know how you’re are feeling so they can be more understanding and accommodating.
Healthy eating. - I know you are probably thinking, actually junk food makes me feel better so please shut up. Short term yes but long term no. There are actually bacteria in your gut that is affected by what you eat. If you are not eating great, then the bacteria in your tummy becomes off balance and actually can affect your mood and mental health (I know...WHAT.) so maybe ditch the fizzy drinks or coffee and go for water and healthy snacks. I have trialed and tested this, and you will be surprised.
Having good sleep hygiene is something I am not good at. I love staying up late and sleeping in all day. But actually, that can seriously impact your mental health. People often forget how important sleep is, but In fact, without it, we are like walking zombies. Not nice. Turn off electrical devices an hour before bed and wind down by reading or having a warm drink. Also don’t work in your room as then your mind associates your bedroom with work, which can often subconsciously keep you up at night.
Spending time with pets and animals actually can improve your mental health (OMG.) I recently got a little kitten for this exact reason. It not only gives you a sense of purpose and a reason to get out of bed, playing and petting animals releases anxiety and can become quite calming. Playing with animals can also elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which calm and relax you, AND they are super cute to look at. Win, win.
Your outlook on life will 100% impact your mental health. If you focus on the negative, you will more than likely feel negative, but if you focus on the positive, you will more than likely feel more positive. Easier said than done of course, but try to stay open-minded to any hardships you face and look at them in a more positive light.
Reading self-help books, I find always keeps me motivated and shows me I’m not the only one feeling this way. My personal favourite is ‘You are a Badass’ by Jen Sincero. You can listen to it for free with a free seven-day audible trial, or treat yourself by buying the book off Amazon.
This is a weird one, but I promise you it works. Having a freezing cold shower. I know, I know why would you want to put yourself through that but I tried and tested this, and it works. You don’t have to have the whole shower icy you could just end it with a cold blast. Being exposed to this for a chilly few minutes is actually used as a shock treatment which activates endorphins and adrenaline within the brain. It also helps reduce the stress hormone cortisol. If you don’t believe me try it for your self. I noticed my mood improve and I felt more awake and alert.
P.S. it’s great for the skin too. BONUS.
Hard Pills to Swallow *Gulp*
- You must realise that the only person who can help you is you. No one can force you into improving your mental health. You are the only one who can change things.
- When you realise it’s ok not to be ok and that more people than you realise feel the same as you, things I’ll start to get better. You are not alone.
- You are responsible for your own mental health. If a situation or a person isn’t good for you, please remove yourself.
- Sometimes you need to take a break and have some time off. This is important and necessary for you to be able to continue.
Cool, cool. Greaaaat Stuff. But what help is there out there for me?
Samaritans are there 24/7 to talk to you if you want someone to talk to. It doesn’t have to be about anything serious; you can just speak to them about the day you had to offload. They are no judgemental and are only a phone call away. I have used this service, and I have found it very helpful to just speak about my feelings to someone who doesn’t know me or the situation I am in. You can contact them 24/7 on 116 123. It’s a free number, and the number does not appear on your phone bill so brilliantly no one will know if you don’t want them too. You can also join the Samaritans too for free and become one of the people on the other end of the calls. They give you extensive training to make sure you are fully prepared, although it is on a volunteer basis you get paid through the idea of helping people. You could even save a life. If you are interested, you can apply on their website.
Mental Health America
Similar to Samaritans MHA offers text and telephone support. The website states;
‘If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis centre, or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.
You can also call 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 at the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. Trained crisis workers will listen to you and direct you to the resources you need.’
Check their website for more details at mentalhealthamerica.net – their website offers an online screening test and online information and support much like the U.K.’s Mind featured below. MHA also allows you to join the advocacy network and volunteer with them.
Mind is a mental health charity that provides information and support with regard to mental health issues. They can also direct you to your local mind where they can offer you support.
- Check them out at www.mind.org.uk
NHS GP/ Health Care Professional
Check in with your local G.P. to find what help is in the area to you locally. The G.P. can also refer you for counselling and can prescribe medication if needed. They also can sort out a sick note for you if you aren’t fit for school or work at the moment. If you aren’t based in the U.K. take a visit to your health care professional for advice.
CALM APP – Worldwide
This is the app I use for my guided meditation sessions. You can get some free meditation sessions but to assess the whole app it’s around £7.99 per per month that’s that’s around £2 a week. Not too bad. There are also other meditation apps out their so shop around and see what you like. Maybe even create new email address so you can keep having free trials. You know to save those pennies, not to be a cheap skate or anything...
The Mix - Crisis Messenger (UK)
Similar to Samaritans the Mix is a number you can text about how you are feeling. They are a 24/7 texting line, if you don’t feel comfortable talking over the phone you can text them more privately and again no one will know. Text THEMIX to 85258. The line is supposed to be for people 25 and under but having previously used it they didn’t ask my age so they wouldn’t know.
Time to Change (U.K.)
Time to change is a mental health campaign with its aim to reduce to stigma around mental health. Check their website to find out what’s going on in your area and what support is available to you. You can also join the campaign like me by becoming a time to change champion it is free and your job will be to help reduce the stigma in your communities and online.
Sick Not Weak (U.S.)
Sick Not Week is a non profit organisation to help people understand that mental illness is a sickness. They have a huge worldwide social media presence which I love, but the organisation is U.S. based. Check out their website for stories and crisis support.
Industry Minds is a Podcast which discusses the importance of talking about Mental Health within the creative arts. How can a podcast help me? You say. Well the girls Cathy and Scarlett who run the podcasts have set up a counselling service provided by Industry Minds. They have a counsellor called Mary Burch whom specialises in depression, anxiety, addiction and abuse. She offers free yes FREE, telephone and counselling services to those struggling or facing difficulties. She also offers 1:1 sessions for the price of £25 which is honestly a god sent BARGAIN. Usually counselling can cost between £60 - over £100 an hour. For more information head to industrymindsuk.wixsite.com – although Mary is U.K. based you can contact her via email and quite possibly arrange a Skype session. You can arrange a telephone or Skype session by emailing her on: firstname.lastname@example.org – Despite them being U.K. based you can still access their podcast on Apple podcasts to listen to them talk to the stars of the West End about Mental Health.
Your Life Counts
YLC is an organisation reconnecting people with hope and their reasons to live. This website is brilliant as you tell them where you are from and it shares with you a list of helpful numbers that are available for you to call for help. The list ranges from China all the way to Wales. Check them out and find out what help is near you at yourlifecounts.org
Let’s end the Stigma Together. #MentalHealthMatters #SickNotWeak