Okay to not be Okay


Image source: https://www.globalmentalhealth.org/

by Erick Wikum

Let’s take a step off of the Little Miami Scenic Trail (we’ll return soon enough) to consider a critically important topic—mental health.  During this past summer’s Olympic Games, Simone Biles’s very public withdrawal from most of her gymnastics events highlighted the pressure that she and all athletes face.  Her issues led Michael Phelps, the winner of 28 Olympic medals who has experienced mental health struggles of his own, to remind viewers that “it’s okay to not be okay.”  In an interview after winning a gold medal, swimmer Caeleb Dressel fought back tears as he noted that the past year had been very difficult.

Let’s face it; the pandemic has been hard for all of us.  Our “new normal”—whether working or attending school from home or limiting social engagements and family visits—is anything but normal.  News of more dangerous variants and fresh outbreaks coupled with concern for our friends and loved ones takes a real emotional toll.  We wonder when and even if this plague will end.

The UK Mental Health Foundation has published a pamphlet (available at this link) that includes the following 10 tips for looking after your mental health:

1. Talk about your feelings
2. Keep active
3. Eat well
4. Drink sensibly
5. Keep in touch (with family and friends)
6. Ask for help
7. Take a break
8. Do something you’re good at
9. Accept who you are
10. Care for others

Perhaps number 6, asking for help, is the most important of these tips and the most difficult to do.  Admitting you need help is not easy, but doing so is a sign of strength and not weakness.  It is okay to say you’re not okay; it is okay to admit you cannot go it alone.

The record more than 2 million people who availed themselves of the Little Miami Scenic Trail last year know the importance of number 2, keeping active.  Exercise is good medicine, as is enjoying the sights and sounds of the river, vegetation and wildlife.  The trail can play a role in your overall mental health plan.  Be safe and be well!


October 2021

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