by Molly Anderson, recoveryhope.org Contributing Author
"I've seen how important it is to address mental health issues before they take control. I truly believe it’s lifesaving to nurture our innermost selves before mental health conditions become debilitating, whether it’s something as common as stress and anger or something as complex as depression or suicidal thoughts."
How Mental Health Affects the Lives of LGBTQ+ Youth
It can seem difficult to look after the state of our mental health, especially for LGBTQ+ youths. The stigmas surrounding disorders and mental wellness can seem insurmountable, and make it hard to talk about. However, the more we speak of it, the easier it becomes, and the less this stigma affects society.
How Mental Health Affects Us Physically
How we feel emotionally and mentally can affect how we feel physically. Studies have suggested that stress and negative emotions can lower our immune responses, and even affect how long it takes our bodies to heal from damage. As we age, depression alone is thought to increase the risk of heart attack and debilitating heart conditions. Therefore, taking care of these issues as they arise is paramount to our state of health today and in the future. Unfortunately, LGBTQ+ youth have higher instances of issues with mental health. As most LGBTQ+ youth can attest, the reasons for this are numerous. Happiness, however, does not have to be elusive, and there are steps you can take to improving your condition. If you are in an area like Kentucky that is not always open to equality, there are always resources available to you online, which can help you find organizations and people to help you in person.
Take Care of Your Mind
It takes daily effort to nurture your own mental well-being. While therapy is often the best way to begin our journeys toward wellness, there are things you can do in addition to give your mental well-being a leg up. Talk to your group of friends about how you feel, and start a conversation. Even just verbalizing how we feel can have a lasting impact. Make time to do things you enjoy. Maybe that means reading a good book for 30 minutes this weekend, or playing video games with a friend on a Friday night. If you’re feeling lost or directionless, sit down and try to set some positive goals for yourself. They don’t have to be big, but working toward something can go a long way to alleviating anxiety. Don’t let the stigma hold you back from getting help. So many are going through the same thing. There is no shame in getting the assistance you need to be happy. Be gentle on yourself, and treat yourself the way you would treat a friend in need.
Take Care of Your Body
Just as important as looking after your mind, your body plays a large role in how you feel physically and emotionally. Making good choices is imperative in the journey to mental well-being. The first step in taking care of your body in order to benefit your mental health is how you eat. A diet that emphasizes vegetables and protein high in omega-3 fatty acids may reduce rates of depression. It can be hard to eat well when we feel down, as we may not have the energy we need to cook. Yet, avoiding easy-to-grab processed foods is a strong tool to building good mental health. Moderate exercise is another tool for looking after our well-being. The chemicals your brain releases during and after physical activity can help us regulate anxiety, stress, and depression. All it takes is 30 minutes a day to maintain good health.
It is important to note that it is not your fault if you suffer from depression. There are many causes, and the solution is never a one-step issue. However, with a combined effort of getting the help you need safely and looking after your mind and your body, you may be better equipped to fighting poor mental health. Reach out to those who understand what you’re going through, and never underestimate the power of love. After all, love and wellness is what we all deserve.
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