It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week – here’s what we’ve learned

There’s no doubt about it, Mental Illness Awareness Week is important every year.

But this year? Well, it feels like it’s needed more than ever.

Raising awareness of mental health —  and knowing how to keep ours in tip-top condition — is always important. But in 2020, we’re ready to shout about it from the rooftops.

It only takes a quick glance at a few statistics from the year so far to see that mental health across the world has been massively impacted by COVID-19.

In the UK alone, rates of depression have doubled during the coronavirus pandemic. And a study in the US found that the number of people suffering from anxiety had more than tripled since last year.

And it’s not hard to see why.

Since the start of 2020, we have dealt with unpredictability in every aspect of our lives — and we’re constantly experiencing things that we could never have imagined a year ago.

Throw in some scary news bulletins and concern about keeping our photography businesses afloat and it’s no wonder our mental health is taking a hit.

It’s important to remember that living through a pandemic is hard for all of us — yes, even that friend who looks like they have it together.

So, why should we be paying extra attention to our mental health right now? What are our top tips for staying sane and resilient during such a hectic and unpredictable year? And why do we think Mental Illness Awareness Week is so important?

Read on to find out.

Why mental health is a priority right now

We should all be reminding ourselves that we’re allowed to feel stressed and anxious about the things happening in the world right now.

Lots of the things we’ve experienced this year are very stressful.

We’ve spent far too much time on our own. Social contact has been limited in extreme ways. Businesses have gone into administration. Some of us have lost loved ones. And all of us have had to adapt to a ‘new normal’.

And that’s exactly why checking in on our mental health — and supporting our loved ones with theirs — should be at the top of our priority list right now.

You might feel like you’re expected to put on a brave face and get on with things — but being honest about how you’re feeling is much more important than pretending you’re okay.

Talking to friends and family, being honest about your emotions, and seeking support when you need it are just some of the things that we recommend during this challenging time.

And our mental health top tips don’t end there! Let’s dig deeper.

8 tips for staying sane and resilient in 2020

Prioritize rest

You’re a super hardworking business owner who’s always looking for ways to make your photography the best it can be.

And with the wedding photography sector completely disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a good chance you’ve been working even harder than usual to keep your business afloat.

We totally get it.

But if you don’t give yourself enough time to rest, relax, and recuperate at the end of a busy day, your mental health is definitely going to suffer.

Set yourself reminders to turn your phone and laptop off at a certain time each evening. The blue light that they give off can wreak havoc on your sleep and keep you wide awake for hours.

It’s also a great idea to dedicate an hour of each day to activities that will help you to relax and de-stress.

Yoga and Pilates are both great examples of hobbies that will keep both your mind and body in tip-top condition. (If you need some great yoga poses for photographers, click here!)

Remember: Rest is a productive activity. So don’t feel guilty for taking time out.

Fuel your body with the right stuff

What we put into our bodies can have a huge impact on how we feel day-to-day.

This year, we’ve all spent a lot more time indoors than we usually would.

Combine this with feeling constantly worried about the state of the world and you’ve got a recipe for takeaway overload and some pretty unhealthy eating habits.

Of course, enjoying tasty snacks from time to time can be super comforting.

But it’s also important to remember that fueling your body with the right foods will do a great deal of good for your mental health.

If there’s ever a time to make healthy eating a priority, it’s now. Try and plan meals that contain lots of yummy vegetables, plenty of protein, and lots of fiber.

We all crave a sugary treat every so often, but try and cut down on the junk food as much as you can. Trust us — you’ll feel the benefits.

Be honest with yourself

We get it. You want to keep going. Keep doing. Keep creating.

Sometimes we think that keeping busy will keep our mind off of how we’re really feeling.

And that’s true to a certain extent.

But if we’re struggling with our mental health, it’s also really important to give ourselves the mental space to understand our emotions.

Keeping a journal and writing down how you’re feeling each day can be a good way to keep track of your mental health — and the factors that have an effect on it.

Communicating openly with close loved ones and speaking to a therapist can be additional outlets to process through emotions and life’s ups and downs.

Oftentimes getting things out in the open (whether verbally or on paper) helps us recognize what’s going on inside and process what we’re feeling.

Overall, being honest with ourselves is crucial during challenging times and helps us work out what makes us feel good, bad, and everything in between — as well as identify when we might need to seek additional support.

Connect with other photographers

Talking is the best way to stay sane and resilient during periods of change and uncertainty.

Never underestimate the power of opening up to other people. And the best people to connect with as a photographer are, of course, other photographers!

Make an effort to keep in touch with people who you know are going through similar experiences to you right now.

Chatting to each other about your business worries, or sharing your best tips on how to get through these challenging months, is a really healthy way to stay connected —  and a good reminder that you are not alone.

Remember: The DBMH Facebook Group is always there if you need a new tribe.

Photographer: Stephanie Marie Photo
Sweat it out

In 2018, The Lancet Psychiatry journal published a study that looked into the link between mental health and physical exercise.

The conclusion?

Those that exercised on a regular basis reported having 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health a month than those who didn’t.

Getting your heart pumping can have a massive impact on how you feel — and those suffering from mental illness will particularly benefit.

The National Health Service in England recommends that adults ‘do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week’.

So jump up off that sofa and get your body moving! Your brain will thank you for it.

Concentrate on the things you love

We might not have many customers for wedding photography right now — but think about why you started your business in the first place.

As photographers, we’re lucky to earn an income doing something we truly love.

So, go back to where it all started. Take photos because it’s what you enjoy, rather than to earn money.

Concentrating on the things we love during times of change gives us something to focus on and promotes mental well-being.

So — customers or no customers — pick up your camera again and get snap happy!

Get outside

We’ve all spent a lot of time stuck indoors recently.

But — if your current local restrictions allow — never underestimate the power of getting out and exploring nature.

Spending time outdoors can benefit your mental health in so many ways.

These include — but aren’t limited to — reducing feelings of stress and anger, improving confidence and self-esteem, and helping you to feel more relaxed.

And let’s not forget the added benefit of getting your daily dose of Vitamin D!

Research mental illness

Did you know that lots of people don’t seek help in the early stages of mental illness because they don’t recognize the signs and symptoms?

Gaining a better understanding of major mental illnesses can help you to identify signs of them in both yourself and your loved ones.

This can help you to feel more confident in your ability to manage your own mental wellbeing — which is a really important skill to have right now.

Get ready for Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week is a great time to start putting these tips into practice.

Throughout Mental Illness Awareness Week, Mental Health America will be sharing information on seven major mental health conditions.

These are: Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis, Eating Disorders, Depression, PTSD, and Addiction/Substance Use Disorder.

They’ll also be sharing lots of ways that you can get involved with mental health awareness and advocacy!

Want to find out more? Click here for more information on Mental Illness Awareness Week 2020!

And — even when Mental Illness Awareness Week is over — we’ll still be here for you. Keep an eye on our blog for more tips on navigating the crazy world we’re living in right now!

Written by:
Dirty Boots & Messy Hair Team

Connection is what it’s all about. Feel free to reach out to us with any comments or questions you might have, even if it’s only to say hello. If it wasn’t for our beautiful community, this place just wouldn’t feel the same.

05 Oct 2020


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