“Creating a healthy mindset is an investment in your overall well being.”
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What Is Mental Wellness?
Mental wellness means being able to manage the stressors of life successfully. It is a state of well-being where an individual lives a meaningful life and positively contributes to the community and society. I experience many highs and lows throughout my week, maybe even throughout my day; mental wellness is about moving through these good and bad times and coping with changes. I have learnt to manage changes in my life by not getting flustered and frustrated by the little things. Instead, focus on the bigger picture and what is ahead of you, not in the past.
What Are The Components That Influenced Mental Wellness?
Our mental wellness is influenced by many things, such as our genetics, state of physical health, life experiences, living circumstances, self-esteem, relationships, sleep habits, etc. Different components contribute to an overall healthy mental wellness. Generally speaking, there are six: spiritual, physical, mental, environmental, social, and emotional.
Spiritual health focuses on inner peace and cultivating spiritual growth. It can come from both religious and non-religious experiences and can begin by exploring your spiritual core by asking questions such as: “Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I believe? Do I have a relationship with a higher power?” Spiritual health can bring a sense of comfort while adding strength to handling life’s challenges.
There is a misconception that spiritual health means you must believe in a god and belong to a particular religious statue. Although this is true for some, spiritual health can mean questioning your position in life and speaking to the universe, compared to speaking with a god. For example, I constantly search for answers about my spirituality and my beliefs.
Physical health is the most visible type of health. It impacts our mental wellness, such as ongoing physical activity, access to nutritious foods and proper sleep hygiene. In addition, physical activity can positively affect mood and overall mental health, such as better sleep, increased motivation, lower stress, etc. Although many guidelines give a specific amount of time to devote to exercise per day, any movement is beneficial, such as walking, jogging, yard work, dancing, swimming, biking, playing a sport, yoga, Pilates, etc.
Not everyone will experience mental illness, but everyone will have periods when they struggle with their mental well-being, just as we have physical health issues from time to time.
There are four dimensions of mental health: thoughts, body reactions, emotions, and behaviours. When we feel good, we tend to have healthier thoughts that see life more balanced. When we are not feeling good, we tend to get stuck on ruminating and negative thoughts. Our body reacts to things like anxiety and depression. For example, we might experience headaches, muscle tension, upset stomach, lack of appetite, sweating, chest pain, feeling dizzy, decreased sex drive, etc. Looking after your mental health can look like: talking about your feelings, confiding in your support system, practising self-care, creating boundaries, journaling or reading, taking your medication etc.
Sometimes I get irritated by my physical space, and I realize that my surroundings deeply influence my mood and behaviour. For example, when my desk is messy, and I try to get work done, it just doesn’t work! Decluttering your environment is a great way to boost your mental wellness. Our environmental health includes the home and community we live in, any occupational hazards we may be in contact with, and the effects of natural disasters. We spend a lot of time at home and work, and our environment plays a role in our mental wellness, such as air pollution, inadequate heating, fire hazards, inadequate clean water, and safe workplaces.
It’s great to have a community that you can stand with and turn to for support. Social health involves our ability to adapt to social situations and form meaningful relationships with others. There is a link between the relationships we have and our health outcomes. Signs of being socially healthy will usually include: being yourself and sticking to your values when socially interacting with others, adapting in social situations, treating yourself and others with respect, creating boundaries to maintain a healthy mindset, etc. Consider finding yourself a community you relate to, such as a sport or hobby you enjoy or a particular lifestyle you commit to living, such as veganism or eco-friendly living.
Emotional health involves our sense of well-being and how we acknowledge and deal with our emotions and the emotions of others. Understanding our emotional health means paying attention to our feelings and maintaining control of our thoughts and feelings. Consider expanding your support system, practising building confidence, developing and practising new hobbies, meditating or practising yoga, getting enough sleep, and honouring your feelings.
Among all the different types of mental wellness, there is a general theme of trying our best to maintain a positive mental health state. People with a good grasp of their mental wellness have a positive attitude, control their thoughts, handle challenges, build strong relationships, and enjoy life overall. Mental wellness is an integral part of our overall health, and investing time and energy into your mental wellness has many benefits, including:
– Resilience and being able to cope with stress
– Engaging in productive work
– Contributing to your community
– Being able to recognize your self-worth and your abilities
– Paying attention to your needs and feelings
– Learning about what makes you happy
– Working towards your goals
– Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
– Building strong relationships
It’s essential to prioritize your mental wellness because it might not be directly visible, unlike physical health. For example, if a person gets into an accident and fractures their leg, the standard protocol will be for a doctor to check, put a cast, give instructions on how to care and heal. However, the injury is not visible when a person has depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, etc. However, psychologically we are not doing well. As a result, we may not reach out to help ourselves. It’s also easy to forget about our fitness when we are busy with life, family and commitments. To be our best selves, we have to understand that taking care of ourselves is a must in all aspects of our wellness.
What Are Some Ways To Enhance Your Mental Wellness?
1. Listen To Your Body
– Learning to listen to your body involves respecting it, acknowledging what your body needs at the moment and asking what your body needs to stay healthy.
– If you are hungry, eat. If you are tired, rest. If you are irritated, move your body. If you are in pain, seek medical care/advice.
2. Create Boundaries
Boundaries are essential for yourself and others. It’s crucial to decide your limits and what level of support you are willing to give others. It’s vital to determine boundaries based on your core values and your instincts. Part of this process may involve learning to say “no” and communicating clearly with others.
3. Learn To Deal With Stress
There are many ways to deal with stress: identify the sources of stress in your life, avoid people who cause stress, express your feelings, create a balanced schedule, look at the bigger problem, adjust your standards, share your feelings with others, connect with others, and exercise.
4. Set Goals
No matter where you are in your mental wellness journey, working toward small and specific goals can help you feel better. You can formulate short-term or long-term goals that enable you to take things step by step. Then, track your progress, share it with others, stay positive, and consider an accountability partner.
5. Ask For Help
There is no shame in asking for help. If you are struggling, reach out to friends, family or an agency/community establishment.
6. Prioritize Sleep
Sleep and mental wellness are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological and physical state of health. For example, lack of sleep can cause depression, anxiety, memory issues, mood changes, trouble with concentration, low sex drive, etc.
7. Stay Connected
Social isolation can have adverse health consequences such as depression, poor sleep, and feelings of isolation and loneliness. It’s essential to stay connected to friends and family as this lowers anxiety and helps regulate emotions. Volunteer, reach out to friends, ask for help when needed, introduce yourself in public, eat meals in a communal space, etc.
How Can I Build Resilience?
Resilience is the process of adapting to adversities, trauma, tragedy, threats and any other source of stress. When we build skills that foster resilience, we learn to adapt to change and move forward after a disaster and stressful situation; It’s a type of strength that we turn to. Those who lack resilience may become highly overwhelmed and dwell on problems, turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. People with resilience have a mental outlook that allows them to work through issues, tackle issues head-on and move on with their lives. There are many health benefits of resilience, including better mental wellness, lower rates of depression, greater satisfaction with life, and reduced stress.
Prolonged stress takes a toll on the body, which is why resilience is such an important skill to have. Some ways to build resilience include: meditating, reframing a situation, leaning on family and friends, cultivating positive thinking, and being optimistic about the different life experiences we have to face in our lives.
What Is The Connection Between Mental Wellness and Physical Health?
Mental wellness and physical health are closely linked. For example, when I feel anxious about a situation, perhaps giving a speech in front of people, I can feel the anxiety through physical symptoms: I sweat, get lightheaded and my heart rate increases. Suffering from severe or persistent anxiety and stress can directly influence our physical health. Poor mental wellness and poor physical health can diminish one’s quality of life and lead to worse health outcomes such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, cancer, respiratory conditions, arthritis, etc. Furthermore, many studies have linked mental health challenges to a shortened life expectancy.
Taking care of your overall mental wellness can directly impact your physical health. Consider eating a balanced meal, exercising, drinking water throughout the day, getting outdoors and eliminating alcohol and tobacco use. From personal experience, when I lack in one area of my life, it affects the other aspects. The interconnectedness of physical and mental wellness makes mental well-being crucial for our overall fitness and health. We cannot take care of others or be fully present in life when we are not taking care of ourselves.
What Is The Bottom Line?
You deserve to live a happy, healthy and purposeful life. As someone who struggles with a mental illness, I know how much one health area can affect another aspect of our lives when we are struggling. The tips and information we provided in this article are a great starting point to get you into a better headspace. As a result, you can handle stress more efficiently and build resilience to deal with ongoing and future stressors.