Let Us Smile 17th May 2019

A week of mixed emotions as my heart has been full of happiness and sadness this week.  My social media feeds have been full with Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 this week.  I have been moved and admired that fellow freelancers and others have shared their own personal experiences of mental health as well as the pathways they have taken to manage their mental health.  Their sharing will not only help raise awareness of mental health illnesses but also helps in understanding that you are not alone in your anxieties, it shouldn’t be a taboo subject and that self help and support from professionals can help.

I am fortunate that I don’t have my own personal story to tell about experiencing a mental health illness.  I am certainly not a professional in this field but reading the recounts shared raised some thoughts with me –

The need to acknowledge and support what others are going through – Whilst I haven’t personally suffered from a mental health illness my daughter has suffered from anxiety.  The journey with my daughter trying to understand her triggers, feelings and respond has taught me several things.  This came back to the forefront of my mind this week reading those shared on social media.   It is the need to understand the illness, empathise and provide support where possible.  We may not be professionals in this field (and in cases professional help may be required) but what we can do is not belittle or dismiss those feelings, listen without judgement and let them share how they are feeling.

The need to understand how you keep your mental state healthy – We may not be suffering from a mental illness, but what can we do to reduce the risks of that happening.  There are many things which are out of our control which can affect our mental health.  However equally there are many things that are in our control, that we can influence to ensure that we care for the health of our mind just like we would our physical health.  Be aware of those triggers that give you a negative mindset or make you feel less positive or low about your life or self.   Be equally aware of what makes you feel good, positive and in good mental health.  Routinely build these into your day and recognise the triggers of when you need to seek support or put in place one of your positive mental health actions!  It is not selfish to build in time for yourself.  It is fundamental.  You are your most valuable asset.  Invest in yourself and look after your mental health.

Finally, I am a HUGE believer in smiling!  I smile a lot! So I wasn’t surprised that I read that researchers have found that smiling helps reduce the body’s response to stress and lower heart rate, blood pressure and leads to longevity. But there shouldn’t be a reason to smile, just do it!  Hopefully my smile will be infectious and I will pass it onto you…

Smiling Is Infectious
Author Unknown

Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu,
When someone smiled at me today,
I started smiling too.

I passed around the corner
and someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realized
I’d passed it on to him.

I thought about that smile,
then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine
could travel round the earth.

So, if you feel a smile begin,
don’t leave it undetected.
Let’s start an epidemic quick,
and get the world infected!

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