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Three ways in which style can support good mental health #mhaw17

 

Mental Health Awareness Week has now come to an end, but May marks a general focus on Mental Health; of course, as a counsellor, it's my focus throughout the year! This year, the focus was on ways in which we can thrive, rather than simply surviving, and it generated considerable discussion about ways in which we can all support good mental health, both within ourselves, and with others. I took inspiration from Dr Maya Angelou and a quote from her, which seemed appropriate for the focus of the week.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style.
— Dr Maya Angelou

Today, in this post from my series for Mental Health Awareness Week, I'm focusing on how style can support good mental health; it's not something that immediately comes to mind, but I appreciate the opportunity to think creatively about how we can take care of our mental and emotional health!

Style gives us a sense of self

Or, perhaps more accurately, a sense of self gives us style. It's when we really know ourselves that we're able to truly define our own unique style. Knowing ourselves authentically on the inside makes us more able to express ourselves authentically on the outside!

Knowing our authentic self makes us more able to be congruent, which enables us to avoid conflict, by choosing relationships that are more likely to work for us, and engage in activities that leave us feeling satisfied. When we do that, we are far more likely to find fulfillment in a rich life, which boosts our mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Style gives us confidence

When we feel comfortable and expressive, we walk with purpose, speak with assurance, and act with courage. Confidence boosts our wellbeing in a number of ways; it fosters our ability to be assertive, and speak up for our needs and desires. It also builds much needed resilience, as we care more about our own opinion of ourselves than we do about the opinions of others. 

Style helps us connect

When you have a sense of your own style - the clothes you wear, the music you enjoy, the travel and hobbies and books that inspire you - you are often more able to identify like-minded people, and engage in fulfilling relationships. You might have noticed that you feel more comfortable around people that seem to know themselves, and feel comfortable with themselves' when we feel comfortable, and trust that we are meeting someone authentic, we are able to relax, and develop real connections with depth and intimacy. Having a well developed social group gives us more access to more of a support network, if and when our mental health takes a little dip.

Style, and Maya Angelou

Style may seem like an insubstantial quality, but knowing and expressing ourselves honestly can be extremely beneficial in developing and sustaining our personal identity. If you need further proof, just take a look at Maya Angelou here, speaking about some of the many elements of her style, with such ease and confidence, and how she continues to thrive, to delight in her own being. Dr Angelou left us with a unique insight into the challenges she faced in life, by the journals that she wrote and published; disrupted attachments, childhood abuse, mutism, teen pregnancy, poverty and racism. It can be difficult to imagine how someone could cope with the struggles she had to face and emerge with such grace and good nature' however, Dr Angelou has also left us with an understanding of exactly how she did this.

 

 

Through a sense of style and self, and her connection to the safe people in her life, she was able to heal from the pain of her history. Maya Angelou showed us that we need not simply survive our experiences but that we are able to live a life in which we can thrive... with passion, compassion, humour and style.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this post, and think that counselling would help, do please contact me. For more details, or to arrange a free initial consultation, call me on 07419 190930 or hello@concentriccounselling.com.