Reassess your relationships to heal, a psychologist says

When you have a broken ankle, you care for it, you look after it and you avoid putting any further stress on it. Family, friends and even strangers lend a helping hand to try and make your life easier. The same goes for any broken bone in your body.

But when your mental state is broken, why do we continue to push through it? Why do we continue to pile on more stress? Why don’t we seek help? And just because it’s invisible, does this make it okay for those same family members and friends not to lend a helping hand?

Apparently so, according to psychologist Tahnee Schulz.

“These days we’re often just trying to make ends meet and often we prioritise what we can physically see or what other people can see what we’re doing,” Schulz tells Healthy-ish co-hosts Maz Compton and Eliza Cracknell on the latest episode ‘Should we all be seeing a shrink?’

“There was a famous poster that said ‘if your back was on your face you’d care more about it’, and I think that’s the thing – I think even if your organs were on the outside, we’d care more about them and see what’s going on. But mental health is unfortunately invisible and it usually takes a long time before it’s physically seen to other people, so often we don’t have our own self awareness or we think we’re being silly by focusing on that.”

Tahnee, who is the Chief Operating Officer and Head of Clinical at Lysn (an online platform that connects people with qualified psychologists), says that your mental health is anything but “silly”, and it shouldn’t be overlooked just because it’s invisible.

If you feel as though your mental health is struggling, the very first step you should take is reassess your relationships.

“One of the key parts is often relationships and connection; we don’t often know how to build really deep genuine relationships with people,” Tahnee explains.

“So, learning really good quality communication skills, investing in a coach or doing some training courses, really assessing what relationships are really healthy for you, identifying who really cares about you and wants to celebrate your highs and hold you during your lows, and clearing out things on social media that are toxic.”

To do this, she wants you to re-evaluate all aspects of your life with two questions: ‘Is this good for my heart and soul?’, and ‘does this invigorate me or hurt me?’

To further invest in your mental health, Tahnee recommends everyone should consider making a normal habit of booking in regular sessions with a psychologist or therapist – just as you do for your physical wellbeing with a gym membership. She calls it the “hour of power”.

“Our lives are so busy now and this is the moment where you get to stop and someone is completely and utterly focused on you – and only you. They’re not going to inflict their own beliefs or experiences; they’re purely here to just focus on yours.”

Although focusing on your mental health may “feel trivial”, you’ll come out the other end with a clearer mind, a happier soul and with more energy to “get on with the things that you actually enjoy.”

“I think at the end of the day there is nothing more important than your mental health and wellbeing. It floods into every single element of your life – whether your physical health, your relationships, the way you operate in the workplace, how good a quality sleep you have, whether you have inflammation in your body that leads to disease or cancer – it is absolutely incredibly important for you to invest in your mental health because that ultimately becomes your wealth,” Tahnee adds.

“You’ve only got one body and one brain for the rest of your life, you can replace your car and your house can burn down, but this is the one thing that’s important.”

Listen to episode 51 of Healthy-ish, ‘Should we all be seeing a shrink?’ above, at Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.