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Tend to your Mental health, now! | Priscilla Ikasu

Times are tough, right?

Do you have problems sitting still?

When was the last time you were truly happy?

Mental health is the ability to think and act coherently, in dealing with daily life.

Ability to cope with life's transitions and traumas, to handle and accept disappointments in a way that allows for stability to perceive reality as it is and respond to challenges, developing rational strategies for survival. Many of us are looking calm but beneath the surface , the mind paddles and paddles... Most of us have been there, unreasonable thoughts zipping through our minds , going round in circles. Like never before, many of us have times when we feel we will not make it.

A mentally healthy person believes in himself, accepts himself, feels accepted and safe and is accepting of others. You possess a healthy self concept and are able to : face problems calmly.

Furthermore, you are able to feel and behave in ways that contribute to ability to enjoy life and manage challenges. You have a positive self concept and are able to bounce back after difficulty.Mentally healthy people are better able to succeed at work, build flourishing careers and lasting, meaningful relationships.

According to the WHO, mental health is a state of well- being where an individual has ability to cope with the normal stressors of life. Despite present day's shocks, the capacity to accept life in all it's possibilities will preserve your well-being. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the power to change the things i can change and the wisdom to know the difference."


Any negative or positive force to which one may be subjected to is stress. Distress is a constraining force and is more common than eustress- born of excitement eg a promotion.

Physicians are persuaded; stress can kill you! Stress is a natural part of life -something to be dealt with at every stage. Moderate stress is vital to help you achieve higher goals/ solve difficult problems. Don’t you think!

Life changes.

Human catastrophes occur daily; accidents, war, rape, job loss, conflict, time pressures or death will...

Disease or a compelling desire for progress or power is an internal stressor. Natural stressors occur; earthquakes, floods , death Or relationship issues like separation or divorce. Spousal death ranks as the highest stressor followed by divorce,separation , jail term, family death, illness, marriage, job loss, marital reconciliation, and retirement , according to the Ralphs and Holmes scale.

Many people may face multiple stressors at a go. Does thus mean you go numb? Stress occurs at all ages. Dependency in the newborn, conflict with parents for teens young adults face unemployment adults are stressed by child issues or health, elderly persons may suffer health challenges, loneliness, death of spouse or fear of own death. And then there are the inevitable vagaries of life.

Do you go numb? Take a lesson from me I’ve survived a spousal death and a job loss. Developing mental health was my journey, never a destination. My response to stress largely depended on my individual interpretation of events. The effort i put in the situation made all the difference. Response depended on my personality type and individual interpretation of events. Would I become impatient, quick ,loud or calm and slow?

The former would have made me more susceptible to stress and heart disease. At first my body hit back. MANY TIMES I BECAME ILL as stress agitated my body and mind, and reduced immunity. Stress will cause the body to produce adrenaline to increase heart beat and speed of blood flow to muscles for strength to fight or fly from danger. Blood pressure will rise, wearing the heart and this may cause heart attack or stroke.

If prolonged, you will get exhausted, lose appetite and concentration, feel guilty, tired and apathetic, lack sleep, become apprehensive and nervous. Your head will ache as blood vessels in the brain constrict. Your mouth may dry and your stomach may knot. If you are a man, you may loss sexual drive as stress constricts penile blood vessels. You may even experience recurrent thoughts of or attempts at suicide if your depression is prolonged. Chronic stress has health implications but I chose Paths that strengthened my resolve and lightened my burden!

Change may cause irreparable damage like death or a job loss, or pause danger but if viewed as a challenge, outlook becomes different. It is consequently necessary to devote yourself to preparation towards a solution with energy, focus and hope. Many of us are going through challenges to varying degrees. I would feel that the universe was out to get me. I did not resist.

Could here have been a reason for my predicament, an invisible order, a kind of providence?

1. I SOUGHT FOR HELP from an extensive, presiding social support network. I REACHED OUT TO FORMER CLASSMATES, AND FAMILY. Could they help? They did, sending monetary support in turns- my most critical need! For psychological support, I became and active in church , joined a widow support group and found solace for my grief and loneliness. Friendship is an investment-I fought my stressors via a good network of people. Quality of your life is directly dependent on the quality of your relationships, right?

Throwing stigma out the window, i shared my problems with people that i trusted because a problem shared is a problem halved. I received helpful advice on viable solutions. Indeed best and worst times are made better with friends; a buffer in times of stress.

I confided in people, to get constructive solutions, lessen the fear and for suggestions on helpful resources. Why, the ability to share, joys, fears, frustrations makes life richer! Indeed a support network of family and friends contributed to the well being of b ody and mind.

And so I kept a stock of social 'capital': family, friends, relationship counselors ,faith community, financial planners willing to help if you have courage to reach out. I needed to build an extensive network of caring persons which has been found to be closely associated with better immune function. I would talk about my problems to ONLY people with whom i could discuss deep worries and confide secrets, sorrow or laugh together with about money, rejection, fears, insecurities. A professional counselor did more,- helped me take an abject view of yourself and put my problems into perspective.

Sometimes I got more stress from relating with people in my circle- relatives, friends. Character also counts. Having good communication skills helps form and maintain healthy relationships. I’d speak slowly wisely, truthfully without confrontation. Did you know that your in law family or family may be both a source of joy or stress? Maybe not! Guilt or anger is a stressor arising from relationships.

In conflict, I’d ask for pardon and forgive for reconciliation. I opted to see the good in others, compromised and communicated well. Family relationships may cause stress but it is important to appreciate other family members, having realistic expectations. I resolved to listen to others and have realistic expectations of others; family or friend. Shared religious beliefs to strengthen family bonds Made your home a heaven for children and others, investing time and effort.

Work relations may stress and proper communication based on respect is therefore critical. Stressed? Shove up your social network. Enrol in a church. Join a club. Plan a vacation with others as possible.

2. My mind constantly wondered to dark places. But I chose to spend my downtime in what i considered fulfilling. We tend the body through nutrition. We tend the mind through exercise. But can one run or swim their stress off? Arguably. Id begin my day jumping a rope 20 minutes. In the evening id take a brisk walk in the wild 30minutes Benefits were manifold- a flood of feel good hormone moved me on Rarely did I get sick. I had stamina and felt energized, glad about what I was capable of doing…forgetting my stressors.

Exercise is a welcome distraction and helps to maintain a healthy body and mind as it fills with feel good hormones during activity. A ten minute walk can relieve your anxiety and lower your blood pressure. An evening walk in the wild, or an interaction with nature is supremely calming. A ten minute ride will leave you feeling relaxed and energetic thanks to a flood of feel good hormones. I chose to work manually, cooking food for sale; physical activity helped me expend nervous energy built up. I found an activity that I enjoyed – reading, writing, swimming-and let it become a habit and a regular stress reducer.

I would plan for a fixed amount of time daily for any activity i love. These favorite hobbies served as a refuge from the bustle of life. I sought for and found partners to run, walk or work out with. And kept my home cheerful with cheerful music and flowers – and calm, an environment all of which supported my fledging spirit! Sometimes I went places when possible to see the calm sea, song of a bird, glint of the sun or, smell of the evening rose.

A welcome distraction indeed.

3. Did food help matters? Some people take alcohol, or drugs to drown their sorrows. Could drugs and alcohol reduce or exacerbate my stress, I wondered? They tranquilize. But then that’s all! Drinking alcohol excessively and smoking tobacco, or abusing drugs to wash away your stress? These are temporary measures that do more harm than good. Nicotine in tobacco may relax you and increase concentration levels but it is addictive and contains substances that increase risk to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and emphysema.

Letting yourself loose on alcohol or drugs are short-term strategies. And like smoking, excessive alcoholism will cause you health problems like heart disease, certain cancers, cognitive decline and organ damage. What food will calm the errant nerve? Every time you eat a banana, or orange, how do you normally feel? What about coffee? Good nutrition is a powerful ally in stress management. Prolonged periods of day to day stress may weaken immunity manifesting as colds coughs and flu.

Stress may cause you to eat too much or too little. Can food reduce stress? A healthy diet is an energy bank to draw from whenever you experience stress. You can boost your energy levels and reduce stress by taking small frequent meals based on complex carbs. Set aside a peaceful time for eating slowly. There is no dietary magic bullet but you can curb the effects of stress by getting the nutrients your body needs for optimal health. Pay attention to the following foods.

Vitamin B rich foods such as avocado, beef, pork , fish ,beans, milk enriched cereals maintain balance within the nervous system. Soybean, banana, peanut and spinach contain magnesium crucial to body defense against stress. Whole grains contain tryptophan, a sedative. Nuts legumes and oranges are full of potassium that keeps the brain working properly. Potatoes have been shown to reduce anxiety, irritability and mood swings. Vitamin C foods may control stress; citrus fruit, kiwi, pepper, strawberries.

Find it helpful to limit and avoid caffeine which stimulates feelings of anxiety rather than calm and makes you jittery, irritable, and sleepless. Caffeine_ containing foods which include tea, cola, chocolate, and aspirin should be avoided. Water controls stress, it invigorates you. Remember to consume eight glasses daily. A cold shower is refreshing and calming.


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