As we come to the end of #mentalhealthawarenessweek I wanted to look at something a little more positive than some of the previous articles I have posted. This article looks at ways that you can improve your mental state – and it does it through the power of MUSSSIIICCCC (Namely – Eurovision).
I am a huge Eurovision fan, I have loved it since I was a small child. My Guardian, Dulcie, always loved Eurovision, and in many ways, my obsession each year with this wonderfully camp and OTT singing (political popularity) contest, is another way to remember her by. Also, its awesome!
For the uninitiated, Eurovision is, at its, core an annual singing competition featuring a contestant from each Europian country (and Australia) which is boiled down through a series of semi finales until the Grand Final at the end – always on a Saturday night in May. Now describing it like a ‘singing competition’ is like describing Le Lourve as ‘a building’.
Eurovision is insane. Only at Eurovision can you have busty milkmaids, a singer wearing a suit of tinfoil to disco polka music, costumes that look like they were rejected from the hunger games, and political statements that are as pertinent as British host Graham Norton is hilarious. Each year, I watch and share my delight online through social media (not this year though because I have received complaints for several years in a row) and then create a playlist of my favourite songs to sing for the rest of the year.
Simply put – Eurovision makes me happy. Very, very happy.]
Now in relation to mental health this is actually very important. On the NHS website section for helping your mental health there is an entire page devoted to ‘How to be Happier’, it states:
Doing things that you enjoy is good for your emotional wellbeing.
Simple activities like watching sports with a friend, having a soak in the bath or meeting up with friends for coffee can all improve your day.
Doing something you’re good at, such as cooking or dancing, is a good way to enjoy yourself and have a sense of achievement.
Try to avoid things that seem enjoyable at the time but make you feel worse afterwards, such as drinking too much alcohol or eating junk food.
This is excellent advice. So using Eurovision – let’s consider the ways in which you can help your mental health.
Eurovision was made for silly, but at its best there are some absolute greats. Lets take Verka Serduchka – Dancing Lasha Tumbai song, the Ukraine 2007 entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.
This song is an earworm. Once it gets in, you can not get it out. It is ridiculous, but it makes you smile. It is the equivalent of quacking at the cheese in the Supermarket (one of my favourite cheer up games), or dressing up and wandering around town dressed as a superhero and ignoring the looks. I love this song because it encourages me to be silly, to wear a bowtie and a fez, and to make myself smile.
If you are feeling down, try it, do something a lift daft (and safe) and see if you can make yourself chuckle.
Pushing the tooth
Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy.
Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. And it works both ways. If you open up, it might encourage others to do the same.
It’s not always easy to describe how you’re feeling. If you can’t think of one word, use lots. What does it feel like inside your head? What does it make you feel like doing?
One of the things I was told when I underwent counselling, is that is ok to be sad. It is ok to be emotional because this helps you deal. I have always thought of this as ‘pushing the tooth’. You know when you have a sore tooth but you keep touching it tentatively to see if it is getting better. This is potentially the psychological equivalent. You allow yourself to feel a little and see how you cope.
Marija Šerifović’s incredible entry for Serbia, again in 2007 (what a year), presented an emotional song about love and denial. Marija was not comfortable (or potentially safe) enough to come out about sexuality until 2013, yet her pain and emotion for not being to be who she was openly were so plainly raw, that over a decade later the song is beautiful; even if you do not understand the words.
This again reflects how denial and pain can be part of the process of coming to terms with mental health. In my darkest days, sometimes allowing myself to be so sad that I felt suffocated subsequently gave me a release. As always, be safe, and look after yourself. But, facing something, can help you move past it.
Find that Confidence
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It’s based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can sometimes feel really difficult to change.
Your self-esteem can affect whether you:
- like and value yourself as a person
- are able to make decisions and assert yourself
- recognise your strengths and positives
- feel able to try new or difficult things
- show kindness towards yourself
- move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly
- take the time you need for yourself
- believe you matter and are good enough
- believe you deserve happiness.
For me, building self-esteem was [about] learning what self-esteem was in the first place. It was unlearning what I had learned about myself … I went back to self-school and learned all about me
Advice on self esteem from Mind.org
Suffering from mental health can often mean that your self-confidence takes a massive hit. This is a spiral that can make how you feel so much worse. Accepting that you are on the right path can be very helpful but that is not always possible. For me, sometimes it was easier to ‘Fake it until you Make it’. Now, i do not mean, pretend the whole time. But sometimes, just for a bit, try to feel confident, tell yourself you are confident. Build up that push and go for it. Give yourself a break that think – hot damn, im actually amazing!
One of the best examples of this – has to be Robin Bengtsson – I Can’t Go On for Sweden from the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest
Look at that swagger! Look at that confidence. Maybe he goes back to his changing room and cries because he was given regular cheese strings and is lactose intolerant. The fact is we do not know. Sometimes it’s worth just having a go.
Finally, because I am really pushed for time:
I hate this song, and I mean HATE IT. Not only did Netta sing this annoying song ‘TOY’ for Israel – in Eurovision 2018, she actually won it!
However, the more I listened to it, the more I liked it, and that is the final point. Sometimes you just have to give yourself time to feel different.
I have to go because it’s nearly time and I am beyond excited, and I hope you enjoy the show if you watch it.
But my point is: be kind to yourself, look after yourself. Because your mental health is worth protecting.
Enjoy the show!