Since young, we were taught to take care of our personal hygiene. We get reprimanded when we forget to wash our hands, take showers and brush our teeth, but practicing emotional hygiene is almost never mentioned in schools or at home.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), suicide is the second leading cause of death among those aged between 15 and 29. Nearly 800, 000 of suicidal cases are reported every year. This can mean that one dies of suicide every 40 seconds.
“How is it we spend more time taking care of our teeth than we do our minds?“Guy Winch, 2014
Practicing Emotional Hygiene
Guy Winch, a psychologist, claims that there are a lot of people who try to cope with their emotional pain by themselves instead of looking for professional help. It is similar to going to the doctor when we catch the flu or when we are feeling under the weather.
He describes rejection, loneliness and failure as psychological injuries that will distort our thinking and challenge our rationality. We become much more vulnerable when we are hurting, similar to how open wounds have a higher chance of developing bacterial infection.
Besides that, Winch points out that ruminating on negative thoughts increases the probability of getting clinical depression. For instance, we tend to dwell on mistakes or regrets that we have in the past. It leads to a snowball effect, one negative thought to another, then it becomes one huge lump of worries and overthinking in which you are not capable of subsiding it.
However, it is mentioned that a two-minute distraction is sufficient for us to break away from this bad habit. Paying attention to our emotional state is crucial as it is one important determinant as an effort of maintaining our psychological well being.
More understanding, less judgement
When we notice these unusual mood swings or negative behaviours, we would immediately judge and label ourselves as being too sensitive or over-dramatic even when we didn’t receive any kinds of criticisms from people around us. We make our minds the enemy of ourselves. As wounds and conditions are not acknowledged and identified, we are not able to treat it.
Living in a world that is full of differences, we need to constantly remind ourselves that individuals have different emotional capacities towards hardship. This may be something easy to understand, but it’ll surely be hard for most to implement it into our daily lives.
Being mentally ill does not mean you’re crazy
I remember having a friend who refused to attend therapy sessions or see a psychologist by saying “I’m not crazy!”. This is just another stigma attached to mental illnesses, and we need to eradicate it by creating awareness within the society.
By keeping a healthy lifestyle and telling your feelings to those you trust, you will then provide a better environment for the growth of mind and strengthen your mental state.
Remember, getting help does not mean you are weak.
NGOs that provide community counseling service
I. Than Hsiang Mitraline Counseling service
03 – 7981 5301
196, Batu 3 1/4, Jalan Klang Lama, Kuala Lumpur.
This NGO provides telephone and face-to-face counseling by trained counselors, in all languages. The fee is by donation.
2. Lifeline Association Malaysia
1-3, 3rd Floor, Jalan Jelatek 1, Pusat Perniagaan Jelatek, Setiawangsa, 54200 Kuala Lumpur.
This NGO provides free telephone and face-to-face counseling. There are also counselors who are trained in providing play therapy for children.
3. Agape Counseling
03-7785 5955 / 7781 0800
56, Jalan PJS 1/46, Taman Petaling Utama, 46150 PJ Selangor. firstname.lastname@example.org/ email@example.com
This NGO provides email, telephone, and face-to-face counseling and sandplay therapy at a low fee.
03-79568144 or 03-79568145
Befrienders Center 95 Jalan Templer, 46000 Petaling Jaya. firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a suicide hotline. They also provide face-to-face counseling with appointments.
Written by Yu Huan
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the position of UNM IGNITE.