My name is Genevieve Belle and I am originally from Cameroon which is a multi-culturally diverse country which afforded me with a unique childhood. As a very welcoming country, our neighbours and classmates could be from anywhere in the world, there was and still is a strong influence from Asia, Europe and the Middle East with their cuisines reflected in the local restaurant scene. As a young child that fostered a love for food which was never waned. After university, in Bradford, I was fortunate to work for a charity which was multiculturally diverse with over 49 ethnicities represented, as a result I was able to put into use all that I had learnt growing up. We celebrated cultural diversity and I enjoyed familiarising myself with people uniquely different from one another.
These adventures made me very aware of people from diverse backgrounds and the issues that plague them culturally, in particular those which they have difficulty addressing such as mental health. Subjects such as like this are often taboo, stemming from a reluctance to talk about tough matters troubling them to others outside of the family unit or community, “ it been generally said that we don’t air our dirty laundry in public”. This is changing and rightly so as people have suffered in silence for too long. The new freedom has afford most people with a new lease on life, especially as they can access continuous treatment which is available if required. However, prevention they say “is always better than cure”. Therefore, here are a few simple yet effective tips I use that can keep your mental health in check as well as improving it:
- A life of faith: My faith is an anchor around which I build my life. Prayer, worship and bible study allow me the luxury to understand that I don’t have to walk through life on my own. As a result I grown daily in the knowledge that I have someone that I can rely on through the best and worst that life brings. All others areas of my life flow from this relationship.
- Build strong relationships with family and friends: Building strong relationships fosters great bonds of love and support which helps with navigating life. The people we do life with, help us through triumphs and trials, they provide a listening ear and can help us see things from a different vantage point which can make a world of a difference. Sometimes mountains become the molehill they really are we you talk to someone else.
- Live for something bigger than yourself: Have a big goal which involves other people, such a raising money for a charity, feeding the homeless or volunteering in a crisis centre to name a few causes us to see our problems in a different light, they may not be so grand after-all
- Make it a goal to learn a hobby or join an online class: Having a hobby is a great way to decompress. It’s something we love and do without any pressure which keeps us occupied and makes life interesting especially as you get the chance to meet new people and make new friends
- Laugh at yourself: We don’t laugh at ourselves enough as we grow older, maybe because everyday life responsibilities become overwhelming. So take the time at the end of the day and review how it went and if you did something foolish, just laugh. If you still get the hang of it, put on one of the golden oldies such as Charlie Chaplin and learn to belly laugh just like a baby would…… don’t get it , hang out with a baby and observe then go for it. After your fist real belly laugh, you wouldn’t want to laugh any other way.
- Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins our happy hormones which is good for us. It doesn’t have to be expensive, therefore gym memberships are out. Go for a brisk walk and enjoy nature whilst you are at it. There are walking clubs if you don’t wanna do this alone.
- Play music and dance while you do your chores: Playing music can easily change your mood and if you add dancing, your in for a treat. If you haven’t tried this, it comes highly recommended. Once that music is blasting and you get boogieing , you cares seem to melt away and you have yourself a good time all the while getting chores such as cooking, cleaning and laundry done.
As mental health is a vast subject, there is so much more that we can do, nevertheless, if we start small and do the little things as outlined above daily and or weekly, we can safeguard ourselves and our families and benefit from better mental health.