“How are you? I’m grand….” We ask this question so often in this country, it could be the new “hello.” Do you wait for an answer? When asked, do you mumble “I’m grand”?
When was the last time you asked yourself “How am I?
answered the question truthfully, were honest with yourself! The truth is we cannot all be “grand” all the time, it is not reflective of real life.
Talking about how we feel does not come naturally to a lot of people. This is especially true for many men; it can be extremely uncomfortable. We have been reared on “I’m grand,” “just get on with it.” Do not let your feelings in, bottle them up and bury them deep. However, what we now know is that this philosophy is extremely harmful. It can make it even more challenging to answer the question honestly and accept the support when its needed. This outdated thinking is changing, but change is slow. We all need to actively encourage those around us to share how they are feeling.
Admitting or realising that you need help or support is the hardest part. Sometimes our challenges and stress become so familiar it is our new “normal.” However, if we really look at ourselves, our lifestyles, what we hold dear, what makes us happy, what relaxes us, we begin to realise there is room for improvement. Do not be upset by this, be liberated, arm yourself with the tools you need to improve your life, put yourself back in the driving seat, as opposed to being a back seat driver.
First step would be to speak to someone about what you are feeling, where you head is at, what challenges, anxieties or stress you are experiencing. This person can be a GP, family member or friend. There are support services all around the country who are there to listen, turn2me been one.
Connect with those around you, your wider community this is so important for our mental wellbeing. Social connections help us to feel happier, more secure and give us a greater sense of purpose.
- Join a local team or club
- Switch off the TV and play with the kids, talk to whoever you live with
- Arrange a day out
We all know exercise is good for us, physical activity, even a gentle walk is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety. It can help change the chemicals in our brain which bring on a more positive mood. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and introduce it into your daily/weekly routine. Remember small realistic changes are best
- Walk or cycle instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the lift
- Stretch throughout the day, roll out a yoga mat, there are loads of free utube videos, suitable for all ages.
- When meeting friends for coffee, get it to go, walk, and talk
Allow yourself to” Just Be” sometimes, stop and take stock of the world around you. When you allow yourself to appreciate the present moment it can help you gain appreciation for the little things in life. This can assist your self-awareness, help your focus, allow you to check in with yourself and note how you are feeling, what you need to help yourself.
- On your next walk, look around you, do not bring your phone.
- Allow yourself some conscious breaths throughout the day
- Yoga and meditation can assist you with your self-awareness and your bodies sensations.
- Allow yourself to savour your next meal, try smelling it before you begin to eat, allow yourself to really taste it
Learn new things
Realise you do not know it all, it is both freeing and can positively affect your mental wellbeing. Learning new things can help boost self-confidence and self-esteem. Set realistic goals and work your way towards them. Again, take it slow and steady.
- Learn a new recipe
- Take on that DIY job you have been putting off
- Begin a new hobby, teach yourself
- Consider a course in the local college, something that interests you
Giving is as beneficial to the giver as it is to the receiver. Giving your time, or an act of kindness however small or large can make you feel happier and more satisfied with life. Help someone who you think is struggling or in need, reach out to them. It may be too hard for them to ask for support or help.
The reality is that male to female ratio for death by suicide is higher for male. In 2018 there were 352 registered deaths by suicide, 282 were male, 70 were female. The time is upon us to mind our men, mind each other. Mental health awareness needs to be realised, start the conversation. “How are you?” is not the new “hello,” next time you ask the question, stop, look the person in the eye and allow them the time to answer honestly, allow yourself to answer honestly.