Prioritize YOU

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Mental health has been at the forefront of many of our minds in the past few years. When the pandemic hit and we entered lockdown, a lot of people experienced a decline in their mental health. Since that lockdown period, schools workplaces, and more have started discussing what mental health is and how they can start implementing healthy practices to prevent mental health crises. 

While that all sounds great on paper, a lot of these entities don't fully understand what mental health is and what protection and prevention should actually look like. In fact, a lot of us have a surface-level understanding of mental health. That's okay! This post is meant to discuss what mental health is (including common debunked myths), what protection and prevention can look like, how CONQUERing is committed to raising awareness to mental health, and resources that you can turn to for help. 

Mental Health Defined

By now, we're sure you've heard the term mental health. It might have been on the news, at school, or even in a company-wide email from HR. You've heard it, but do you know what it means? 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) mental health is one's emotional, psychological, and social well-being. The various components that make up mental health is what can make it a complex concept to fully comprehend. SAMHSA also asserts that mental illness, also known as mental health conditions, affects thoughts, moods, and/or behavior. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) takes that definition a step further stating that mental health is integral to decision making, relationship building, and shaping the world that we live in. With that definition, mental health affects both the individual and their community. An individual's mental health will affect their mood, ability to complete daily tasks, and a number of other things in their life. The collective mental health of a community will affect business, the economy, and other institutions that are vital to life. 

From both of those definitions, it's clear that mental health is important and should be prioritized. Like physical health, it can drastically impact one's ability to conduct life as normal. Now that you know what mental health is, let's discuss the factors that are at play in one's mental wellness. 

Factors Affecting Mental Health

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With health being in the name, it's easy to think that our physical wellness is the only thing that contributes to mental health. That's a common misconception—in fact, there are a number of additional factors that contribute to one's mental health. 

The WHO identified three categories that can affect mental wellness. The first comes from the health sector—psychological and biological factors. The second being social, economic, geopolitical, and environmental circumstances. The third being the stage of life that one is in. Let's discuss further what those three categories are and how they affect our mental state. 

Psychological and Biological Factors

There are health elements at play when it comes to mental wellness. Mental health conditions are affected by chemical imbalances in the brain. Sometimes different chemicals in our brain are in excess or are deficient which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health conditions. 

Family history of mental illness can also play a part in one's mental health. If a family member experienced mental illness, it can make one more susceptible to developing one. 

When dealing with psychological and biological factors, it is important to reach out to a doctor or mental health specialist to discuss your symptoms and come up with a treatment plan. Early detection can make a world of difference when it comes to recover. 

Social, Economic, Geopolitical, and Environmental Factors

The communities we live in can drastically impact our mental health. Social, economic, geopolitical, and environmental factors all deal with community. 

Social factors come from the people that we interact with. Interacting with people that are supportive and care for us leaves us feeling happy and fulfilled. Interacting with people that berate and bully us leaves us feeling upset and internalizing the negative things they say. This is just one factor amongst a number of communal factors that contribute to mental health. We can't always control the people we are around so it's incredibly important to have a strong support system that loves you and will be there for you. 

Economic factors have come up a lot recently as prices have risen over the past few years. Worrying about money plays a huge role in developing feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. This is something that affects communities—when a community is struggling economically businesses shut down, living conditions get worse, and overall quality of life suffers. 

Geopolitical factors are, a lot of the time, out of our control. Politics can be a huge stressor for a lot of groups, especially marginalized groups. When you live in a place where the majority opinion doesn't recognize who you love or how you identify, it can make you feel like you don't belong. Those feelings can lead to a development of mental health conditions. 

Finally, environmental factors can also contribute to overall mental health. If you have a strained relationship with your family or the people you live with, that affects your home environment. If you don't have access to clean water or health care, your communal environment is affected. If you experience a lot of natural disasters and negative effects from climate change, your geographic environment is affected. These factors are often out of our control which can lead to feelings of hopelessness. 

These four factors often affect one another and happen to us simultaneously. Understanding how these factors negatively impact our mental health can help us pick the most effective treatment plan for any mental health conditions that occur. 

Stages of Life

The final category that the WHO identified as a contributor to mental health was the stage of life that one is in. There are certain stages that are more susceptible than others and having negative affects from any of these factors during that stage can have a greater impact on a person. 

Unsurprisingly, adolescence is the most susceptible to developing mental health conditions. The brain is still developing during this stage and might not know how to cope with what it experiences. This is why it's so important to understand signs of mental illness so a treatment plan can start as early as possible. 

Adolescence being the most fragile stage doesn't mean you can't develop a mental health condition as an adult. It's still important to check in with yourself and see how your mental wellness is doing. It's also important to recognize that all of these factors can contribute to mental wellness as you progress in life. 

Debunking Mental Health Myths

As with any illness, there are many myths surrounding mental health. These myths can be incredibly harmful as they prevent someone from seeking treatment that could save their lives. Below are a few myths and facts that UNICEF identified about mental health. 

The first myth is that you only need to take care of your mental health if you have a mental health condition. This is, of course, false. Mental health is actually a lot like physical health. You wouldn't only care for your physical health if you were sick. In fact, you probably have implemented practices in your daily life to prevent getting sick. Mental health shouldn't be any different! Anyone can benefit from taking active steps to promote well-being and improving mental health. 

The second myth is that having a mental health condition is a sign of weakness. That if you were stronger, you never would have developed a mental health condition. This isn't even close to true. Mental health conditions aren't something that people choose to happen. As we discussed above, there are so many factors, both within and outside of one's control, that can cause you to develop a mental health condition. In fact, it's actually a sign of immense strength and courage to recognize that you need help and to start a treatment plan to improve your mental health. 

The final myth we will debunk is that nothing can be done to prevent the development of a mental health condition. That's not true at all. You can strengthen your social and emotional skills; seek help early when you recognize symptoms; develop supporting and loving relationships; and develop healthy sleep patterns. Those, and a number of other things, can help keep you mentally healthy. 

Symptoms and Care for Mental Health

Now that you know what mental health is and the factors that affect is, let's talk about how to identify signs of mental health conditions and what you can do to care for your mental health. 

Self-care, likely another buzzword you've heard, is something we can do on our own to protect our mental wellness. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines self-care as taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve physical + mental health. There are a number of ways to practice self-care that go beyond what we discuss in this post. It's important to conduct research and try out a few different practices to see what works best for you and what fits with your lifestyle. 

Here are a few self-care practices NIMH suggests that can be implemented into your daily routine: 

  • Regular exercise. This doesn't have to be intensive workouts at the gym, it's anything that gets your body moving and your heart pumping. 
  • Eating regular, healthy meals and staying hydrated can also promote strong mental and physical health. Getting all your nutrients and feeding yourself when you're hungry is incredibly important (being hangry is a very real thing). Staying hydrated can help you think clearer and keep your organs happy. 
  • Have a consistent sleep schedule. For some people, it's just not realistic to get 8-hours of sleep a night. What's important if you can't do that is to go to sleep and wake up around the same time everyday. It's also important to know when to call it a night to avoid over-exerting yourself. 
  • Schedule regular relaxing activities. Meditating, stretching, or breathing exercises are low-commitment and easy to incorporate into your daily schedule. Doing these right before bed is the perfect wind-down from a busy day. 
  • Set healthy boundaries. Be realistic about what you do and don't have time to do. It's okay to say no to someone when you don't have time to do what they're asking.
  • Practice gratitude. Take a few minutes everyday to write down what you're grateful for. Practicing gratitude can change your mindset to have a positive outlook for everyday. 

Those self-care practices are great preventative measures for developing a mental health condition. It's important to note that if you're experiencing more severe mental health complications to seek professional help. Let's talk about what some of the symptoms are of a mental health condition so you know when it's time to ask for help. 

NIMH discusses a few symptoms to look out for to know if your mental health is on the decline. They recommend seeking help if these symptoms persist for 2-weeks or more: 

  • Difficulties sleeping (falling asleep, waking up frequently throughout the night)
  • Appetite changes—this can mean a lack of appetite that is causing you to lose weight or an abundance of appetite that causes you to gain weight. 
  • Struggling to get out of bed in the morning
  • Hard times concentrating
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that you normally enjoy
  • Inability to perform daily functions

Those are only a few symptoms of many that could indicate the sign of a mental health condition. It's important to listen to your body and understand how you're feeling. 

If you are experience those conditions, reach out to your primary care physician to discuss next steps and treatment plans. For emergency situations, you can reach out to the 988 Lifeline Chat that is a service of the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. 

CONQUERing's Commitment to Mental Health

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CONQUERing has a commitment to mental health awareness. Part of empowerment means supporting those in our community who might be experiencing mental health conditions. There are a few ways in which our brand has proven that commitment to mental health awareness. 

The first is that our product offering is primarily fidget jewelry. Fidget jewelry can be a helpful tool for people with anxiety to release the excess energy that builds up in their bodies. In fact, in a study conducted by UNC Chapel Hill using CONQUERing rings, they found that there was a 24% decrease in anxiety for the participants wearing our fidget rings opposed to regular jewelry. The act of fidgeting can create a calming effect in a subtle way. People with anxiety can wear our products and calm themselves without drawing attention to the fact that they're anxious. Check out this post to learn more about how fidgeting can help with anxiety. 

The second way we show our commitment to mental health is through our jewelry designs. We have a number of designs that are dedicated to various aspects of mental health. Here are a few of them and the meanings behind them: 

  • IT WILL BE OK is a reminder that it's okay to not be okay. This design represents that having a mental health condition doesn't mean we're weak or doomed. It's meant to tell us that we are strong for recognizing when we're not okay. 
  • Keep go;ng was released during suicide prevention month. The semicolon is a universal symbol for suicide prevention—it's the idea that your story isn't over yet. The message of "Keep Going" is meant to remind us that we can make it through this tough period of our lives. If we keep going, we will end up in a much better place. 
  • and that's OK. teaches us to accept the things that happen to us. Good and bad things will happen to us everyday. Sometimes all we can do is tell ourselves "that's OK" and move on. 
  • baby steps is all about taking things one step at a time. When we have highly ambitious goals, it can feel like a lifetime away from achieving them. That can lead to feelings of discouragement and lead us to believe we aren't good enough to achieve them. This element is meant to make us set smaller milestones so we have things to celebrate until the overall goal is achieved. 
  • It's a new day is a reminder that every day is full of new possibilities. Just because you've had one bad day doesn't mean you're destined to have a bad life. Living each day as a new day helps you leave bad days in the past. 
  • STAY STRONG can be for others to let them know that w'ere rooting for them or for us to recognize the strength we possess to make it through life's obstacles. This can be your daily encouragement that just getting through the day is something to be celebrated. 
  • SELF LOVE goes hand-in-hand with self-care. It's really easy to rely on external love and validation to think that we are worthy or deserving of life. What's most important is how we view and treat ourselves. This element is a reminder to always do something nice for yourself or to give yourself a little extra love throughout the day. 

Finally, through our CONQUERcares program we donate 5% of our profits to various mental health organizations and community improvement organizations. These programs range from suicide prevention at the local level to poverty relief at the national level. These organizations make a world of difference when it comes to mental health improvement and we are so proud to make contributions to each and every one. 

Prioritize YOU

Now that you know what mental health is and how to take care of yourself, it's time to start prioritizing YOU! Implementing the practices mentioned in this post (or your own) is a step in the right direction to prioritizing your mental health. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health condition, please reach out to a professional or the 988 Lifeline for further instructions on treatment. 

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