Shifting times, a shifting generation

Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open.” — Steven Aitchison

There has been a rise in depression, anxiety, and death by suicides in our generation. This is quite worrying and as someone put it in one of the posts I read recently, “If we are not careful and don’t take action now, then mental health will be our next pandemic”.

What saddens me the most is the fact that most people are hopping on the mental health wagon as a point of clout rather than handling the problem. Most influencers are seeing an “opportunity” where if they focus on mental health then they will get endorsements and partnerships. Which is giving genuine activists, advocates, victims, and practitioners a very hard time. Mental health issues are not a trend, they are not a make money scheme or a passing wave. People dying of suicide, losing jobs, relationships, drowning in drugs, and much more due to mental health issues and require help and assistance.

A question posed recently in a discussion I was having was “why did our parents not have mental health issues?”. The truth is, many of the issues we face today were not spoken of because most were termed as “being weak”. Also, we are more exposed and have the ability to reach information and much more. More so, the happenings of today are far too frequent and more rampant than they were years ago. The number of suicidal attempts and death by suicide has risen globally not only in one region or country. It is not only with a specific race, age group, or gender.

The covid pandemic has only made the situation worse. We have been confined in our spaces for the longest time. Most of us have been on lockdown with no social life. Some of us have been in lockdown alone or with abusive partners with no shot at reaching out to anyone or moving around, therefore, we have suffered in silence because we had no choice. Most of us have suffered through loneliness and depression because the four walls of our rooms, our screens and food items have been the only company we’ve had for months and some, over a year. The rates of domestic violence have risen and many of us have suffered in the hands of partners who have been violent in more ways than one. To make matters worse, we have lost jobs and opportunities that were just opening up after 2019. The social media streets haven’t been the kindest either as bullies have been very active. If the only escape has been social media for most of us, then you can imagine what happens when that escape becomes the exact opposite. The killings in the name of love are due to the fear of people losing the one thing anchoring them and keeping them somewhat “sane”! People are resulting to extreme measures due to jealousy and the fear of abandonment! Can you now understand what people are currently going through? Therefore next time anyone asks and questions mental health issues in the society, please take them through the above. Make them understand that this is not a joke, neither is it a trend. We are not moving towards a productive future unless we do something about it.

It is very important for us to be self aware and work on ourselves. Most importantly acknowledging when we are not okay. I often take breaks from things that i do simply because I understand the importance of not pouring from an empty cup and not pushing myself to extremes. It is not inconsistency but self awareness. It is important to first understand that your productivity highly depends on your wellbeing. I am not saying you should switch off like I do, because the reason why I switch off on somethings is the fact that I have several things to keep track off and when push comes to shove, somethings need to wait. I prioritise and focus on fewer things and get myself together to handle everything else when I am in a much better state. This is more effective than pushing yourself to a breaking point which could trigger the worst out of you rather than the best.

The essentials of positive mental health to help you get through.

  • Vision and Goal-setting 
    • Where do you want to go, do you know the end at the beginning? A person without a vision or a sense of direction in their life will end up going round in circles while doing everything they can to make themselves feel like they are making progress in their life. The hardest thing during covid and some of the things i have heard quite often is the fact that people have realized that they do not have a plan and a vision. This raised more confusion, a feeling of worthlessness and no direction.
    • To help this, find out what makes you happy and what can you do to be the best version of yourself and work on that. What are the segments of your life and compartmentalize your life and create SMART goals for each compartment.
    • SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound
  • Ability to self regulate 
    • Self Awareness precedes all personal growth. If we are not aware of the areas in our life that we want to improve in then we cannot intentionally drive growth in those areas.
    • The best way to know where you are at, is looking at the Johari window and identifying where exactly you in each area of your life.
KNOWN TO SELFUNKNOWN TO SELF
KNOWN TO OTHERSYour ARENA
What you and other people know
(Highest level of self awareness) 
Blind SPOTS
What others see but you don’t 
UNKNOWN TO OTHERS Your FACADE
The public persona you present 
Complete UNAWARENESS
You don’t know what you don’t know 
and others others don’t either
(Highest form of unawareness)
The Johari window
  • Mature sense of identity 
    • Identity has become some sort of taboo in our generation. Most of us want to be what is acceptable, what is like the “norm” rather than having a sense of identity. More of a mature sense of identity and this comes from knowing who you are.
    • Worse, we define ourselves by our emotions, disorders, and other labels given to us. This contributes to us feeling worse about ourselves because then our identity is no longer who we are, but what we feel, and what we are labelled as which quite often than not is negative therefore contributing to depression. Who are you? We cannot afford to define ourselves any less than by our self-virtues. Take away everything that remains? How do you define yourself? I am learning, I am improving and I am growing. What do you tell yourself you are?
    • With knowing who you are, you grow in strength, consistency, decisiveness, responsibility and this contributes to a positive mental health and us having more control in life than we do if the opposite is the case. If we define ourselves in limiting statements then we limit our ability to grow.
  • Attitude towards life 
    • Our attitude determines how our life pans out. When we develop an attitude to appreciate what life and our experiences are rather than what they are not, we start appreciating life and our experience more and life is that simple.
    • How we think in situations also helps a lot. Anxiety is also caused by overthinking, worrying and stress. Thinking skills sadly are not taught in school. We need to think more accurately. Sometimes, we interpret our day-to-day cases and end up living in the most anxious ways simply because we haven’t thought critically and accurately. 
  • Communication: People & Social Skills
    • The quality of our life will always be hugely influenced by the caliber, the depth, and the quality of the relationships we keep. If we are not learning how to better relate with ourselves, then we are not learning how to better relate with others. All personal growth precedes self-awareness. Self-awareness precedes our ability to self-regulate. Our ability to self-regulate precedes social awareness. Social awareness precedes social effectiveness, which is our ability to communicate and interact with everyone else.

Hopefully these few tips will contribute towards your journey to growing and getting to a postive mental health state.

Kindly don’t forget to subscribe to our youtube channel
VICTORIA NKATHA – RESPONDING TO LIFE
(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCovwoPYKuAkVWQkW6oSyOMw)

From us, with love,
Responding To Life.

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