for women with Mental Ill-Health - The 'Problem' is...!
In an earlier work on Mental health for women, we considered traits
of a 'Happy Disposition' and having an 'Optimistic Outlook', as being two key enhancing and contributory factors for women's mental health.
Just as having a positive and optimistic outlook on life can enhance mental health health, there are also those more subtle
factors such as attitude to 'problems', to desires, to life goals, that can adversely
impact on mind health and your overall feeling of wellness.
For the benefit of this work, mental health is being defined
'a concept that refers to your emotional and psychological well-being, in which you are able to use your cognitive and emotional capabilities to function in society and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life.'
(Unlike the term 'mental illness', which is the result of a diagnosable illness), the above definition suggest that mental health for women, means the ability to adapt, manage and find solutions to challenges in every day life.
Since the link has already been established that your body and mind are interrelated, making the most of what you've got, includes taking care of yourself at every level. This interconnection of mind and body means there is always a 'cause and effect' scenario constantly at play. For example, if you feel 'fear' - your body language will express fear. Likewise, if you feel you have a 'problem', you will express this belief in the actions you take to resolve that 'problem'. For women, understanding this connection, will help assess how you deal with
'problems' and whether your approach is promoting your emotional and mental health
or disempowering it.
Many women are far too busy to afford time to their emotional health needs,
which in a way, does not equip them sufficiently to deal with the 'big'
'problems' when they do arise.
However, for women to achieve better emotional health and stability , just as they make space in their busy schedule to take care of their physical health, they need also to make space to attend to their mental, intellectual and emotional wellness.
Mental health and emotional well-being means having a healthy mind that will enable you to deal adequately with all the challenges life throws at you.
Such challenges for women however, might be perceived as 'problems',
rather than opportunities for personal growth. Managing priorities is as much to do with what you do with your mind, as it is to do with what you do with your time.
Mental health care challenges and barriers women may experience
As with anyone else, for women, there's an element of comfort in that which is predictable - of knowing what comes next. When the unexpected happens however, it can throw you off balance and make you feel completely out of control. This perceived lack of control can then easily escalate as you begin to question yourself, your previous beliefs, your judgment and your decision-making abilities.
It is important for a woman to understand that her experience of a 'problem' is as subjective as is her experience of mental health.
That is to say that whilst for one woman a 'problem' might seem
like the end of the world, for another woman the same event might
seem like an opportunity, a challenge or simply a stumbling
In some instances, the nature of 'problems' can even be a cause for women to experience longer term emotional pain. In other instances, problems can for women, present an inclination to hide from their very painful emotions. Either of these reactions will undoubtedly stem from a perception that such barriers are insurmountable challenges.
This clearly establish that how you define a 'problem' - i.e. how you think, feel and act toward it, will determine how you set about resolving it. When things don't work out as expected, it's easy for
a woman, in anything less than a healthy mental state, to label the event as a 'problem' and ask herself the 'why me?' question.
Yet, when you view your experience in this way, you are in fact passing judgement - that the event is a 'problem' to you. The result is a 'problem' oriented mindset which keeps you blocked and take your focus away from finding solutions, - i.e, by narrowing your range of the many possibilities of feelings and actions which might otherwise be open to you.
This 'problem' oriented mindset unfortunately for women, hijacks their focus and their energies become spent on 'what isn't working for them'. For some women, the tendency is there to start believing and/or opportioning the cause of the 'problem' to someone or something else being to blame for their situation.
But how do you go about altering this kind of 'problem' mindset?'
The starting point for women changing their perception and subsequently their approach to 'problems', have to start with the
word itself. Notice how throughout this piece of work, I have
consistently put quote marks around the word 'problem'! This has
been for no other reasons than (a) to make a connection with you by using a word with which you have becomed accustomed and can relate to; and (b) to illustrate the significance and impact of the word 'problem', on womens mental health and the subsequent level of functioning for women. So what's an alternative? If you haven't yet arrived at the answer, you will need to re-read this item from the beginning.
When you change your mindset as to how you view the 'P' word,
you will find yourself defining events that do not go according
to plan, as challenges, barriers, blocks, obstaces. You might even find
yourself thinking or saying 'I'm puzzled' or 'this is outside anything I've ever encountered before!' etc.,
Do you see the difference
when you take a different perspective on things? This positive way of focusing on events
that challenge you does not mean that you're
not acknowledging how you are truly feeling. It does however mean
that for women to do so from a more solution-focused perspective,
will make all the difference to actually finding a solution. It is also a far more constructive approach for women to cultivate this aspect of their personal development, health and happiness.
Challenges, Barriers, Blocks And Mental Health Care
Challenges for women, are a useful and very necessary part of womens lives. You cannot hope to pursue your life goals without encountering some resistence of some sort. When you encounter them, know that they are an important part of a process to achieving your life goals.
Confronting and overcoming them means you make a hefty deposit in your self esteem bank balance, which over time all adds up to a healthy
Besides enabling you to see from different perspectives,
encountering challenges is an essential and inevitable requirement for
women's personal development and womens health. And since this process allows you to stretch and exercise your brain functioning, this can only mean one thing - a healthier and growing mind.
Self help technique for women's mental health care
'Framing' is an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programing) concept that refers to how you think about and position or place your experiences to give them meaning. This is a very useful technique for women to add to their collection of self help tools and mental health care.
Here is how it works. Let's say For example that you have a
picture and you decide to change its frame; as well as changing the look and feel of the picture, the new frame highlights certain qualities as it sets the boundaries of the image. From an NLP perspective, the way you think can similarly frame your experiences and highlight particular aspects of it. So, just as changing the frame adds contrast and a very different kind of definition to the
picture, depending on how you frame a challenge for example, can cause you to experience the same event very differently too.
Challenges for women (as with anyone else), can and do cause different degrees of emotional pain. And, while there is no magical or quick fix formula for immediate eradication, by making constructive use of this awareness, you can confront your challenges head on, with realism and greater effectiveness.
By turning your focus away from the nature of the challenge to a solution-focused approach, you get greater clarity on how to deal with it. And remember, if it's a source of concern to you - irrespective of how other people might perceive it, it must command your attention.
By giving yourself the time and space you need to think about the challenge you face and the emotions linked to it, you'll gain
tremendous insight into how to go about resolving it. Journaling is an effective tool for
achieving this level of clarity. Typical
questions you might want to ask your self in such situations, include:
What levels of concern and anxiety is this causing me?
What specifically is the concern or anxiety?
How is it affecting me?
Where or from whom can I get help? (If needed)
How could I best deal with this challenge?
When do I want this resolved by
What outcome do I want?
Once you have your answers, set yourself some health goals, using this free goal setting guidance and goal setting forms to change
your life for the better. You'll find all the personal goal setting resources you need at the above link.
'Framing is the way we label experiences so that we know what they mean. It colors events or thoughts. If we change the frame, we change the meaning of the experience. When you change the meaning you often change your feelings about what is being framed'.(McDermott & Jago)
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