Health in focus

by Louisa Daniels

Striking a balance

In the news this week it was reported that we look after our homes a great deal more than we look after our bodies.

I agree, and I would add that we tend to pay more attention to our bodies than we do to our minds.

Back in February 2011, the 'No health without mental health' strategy was launched, detailing how the government plans to collaborate more with the NHS, local government and third sector to provide services that enable people to recover from mental health problems. Additionally to the help and support people will receive, the paper also outlines the aim to tackle stigma; the hinge pin of recovery.

After all, how can one feel like a valued part of society, when a large part of that society still can't see that we all have mental health, and an estimated 1 in 4 of us will have a problem with our mental health at some point during life! 

Are our ideals far from ideal?

But, it's not just discrimination that needs to be challenged, what about the ideals?

The cultural obession with the 'body beautiful' is at an all time high, and many people strive to attain it, much to the detriment of their minds.  Let me give you an example.

I know a someone who diets more than anyone in the whole world, I swear. Not only do they own so many diet books that they literally topple over, but in their flat there are drawers stuffed with contradictory magazine features and so-called 'healthy' recipes. One week it's cutting carbs and the next it is a strict diet of fish. The thing is, in the quest for the 'ultimate figure', this person's life is now dominated by calories and food groups. Although this person does not have an 'eating disorder', it is certainly disordered eating, even by their own admission.

I know, I'm not a doctor, but as a friend I can see the detrimental effect that the images of perfection have had on their carefree nature.

Here's another example. I know someone else who hits the gym more times than a professional athlete, but the thing is, it's not fitness that they want, it's an unrealistically toned and defined physique they're after. 

The gym is this person's crutch, and dare I say it could be compared to a glass of wine in the evening.

The thing is though, we all recognise the dangers of too much wine!

For some people, it could be another ideal, such as success, where the focus on material wealth drives everything to the point that all one ever does is work.

The point I am trying to make is that in this world there is far too much attention placed on false ideals, and in particular there is quite a skewed perception of what it actually means to be healthly and happy.

I want to ask, why aren't we listening to our minds?

I think the answer is because we are not encouraged to, or at least we never used to be. 

However, I am hopeful that we are working towards a time when we speak about mental health just as much as we discuss physical health, because it is simply impossible to have one without the other.

Comments

I thank you hbumly for sharing your wisdom JJWY
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Hi, Louisa:

First, I do spent a good amount of time cleaning my leather couches and bleaching the bathroom. I organize my closet a million times and spot clean the carpet. Ridiculous. All this in an effort to avoid my mind.

I spend an equal amount of time applying make-up, my "social mask", as I fear I will be seen for what I am: a sick person. But then I wake up and realize I am a lot more then that.

When all is said and done (furniture is cleaned and bathroom sparkling) I remember that I must take care of my body and mind.

Self-care is so important!
Great post!
Natalie @www.thethirdsunrise.com

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