Why Mental Health Is Important
What does a stressful conversation with your manager, your ideas of what you want your future to look like, and getting angry at the person who doesn't know how to drive in front of you all have in common?
These are all things that encompass and affect your personal mental health. Mental health is characterized by more than just feelings and emotions, it includes your thoughts, dreams, fears, hopes, behaviors, values, identity, relationships, outlook on life, and even parts of your personality. According to MentalHealth.gov, taking care of your mental health can influence how you think, act, and feel. Just like taking care of your body; flexing your mental health 'muscles' from everyday can end up improving how you think, act, and feel.
October 10th, 2020 is World Mental Health Day, and everyone deserves to enhance their well being by knowing what mental health is, why it is important, and some tips on how to give yourself a mental health checkup.
Stopping the Mental Health Stigma
You may be thinking, isn't mental health just something that only affects 'crazy people' or people who are just going through a really tough time?
The short answer is no, every person in this world has their own level of mental health wellness. Your mental health has existed since you were a child, and probably has changed and developed as you have changed and developed.
Let's look into the world of physical health. When your body doesn't feel good, you either try to figure out some solutions to do at home to fix the problem, or you schedule an appointment with a professional to help you. Many videos, products, literature, and social media outlets exist to convince you to take care of your body, appearance, weight, and strength. None of these materials are questioned as being abnormal, however a tv show focused on mental health may be considered strange.
Gym and health classes start teaching children about physical fitness at a very young age, with topics such as stress and relationship building tend to be left out. If mental health classes were in the public school system, many may feel discomfort knowing their child is learning about such a taboo topic.
When with your friends, you say you are having shoulder pain, your friends ask if they can help by getting an ice pack, maybe discuss a time they had similar pain, or even show you some stretches to work it out. Now if your sitting with the same group of friends and you bring up the topic of you feeling upset because you have been thinking about feeling like a failure. The whole room gets quiet with avoided eye contact and a few whispered 'I'm sorry's' or 'That Sucks" before the conversation is turned back into something more positive. No one jumps up to offer a supportive suggestion. Often this topic has a stigma that it is too personal and awkward to talk about in a group setting.
Comparing the physical health world and the mental health world, mental health receives much more stigma. Illness and disorders related to mental health are deemed scary, while asking for help for our well being is viewed as weak. There is nothing weak in wanting to better yourself and your mind.
Stopping the stigma begins with taking care of your mental health, and starting conversations with others about why mental health is important.
The Importance of Your Mental Health
There are many benefits to taking care of your mental health. Having a strong upkeep of your mental health can influence your thoughts, body reactions, emotions, and behavior in a positive direction. Read ahead to discover some perks that you may not have thought of when it comes to focusing more on your mental health.
Your Confidence and Your View of the World. Being more in touch, and kinder, towards yourself with your thoughts and emotions can increase your self-esteem and outlook on life. Your reality is all about your personal perspective. True, there are some outside influences you can not directly control. However, focusing on what you can control, and thinking about how it can improve your life can directly impact your feelings of gratitude, belonging, and safety.
Your Ability to be Resilient and Overcome Problems. When you feel good about yourself, you may find it easier to cope with stressors, come up with new ideas, and express your concerns when an issue arises. You use your past experiences to your advantage in order to troubleshoot current situations. When times get tough, you already have a good foundation of mental health basics to confront bigger challenges whether they be social, environmental, or personal.
Building Relationships with Others. Human are social creatures and want to belong to a larger group. However, when your mental health isn't where it needs to be, you may tend to isolate or distance from others. Sure, some alone time is beneficial for strong mental health, but trusted social bonds can help us out in the long run. When you trust other people, and feel secure in your relationships, you're more likely to want to improve on those relationships, and maybe even discover some new ones as well.
Being a Part of Your Community. Having acknowledgement of your own mental health can build acknowledgment of how others think, feel, and act as well. This develops empathy towards others and your community, and can influence your actions to giving back to a group. Being a part of a bigger group, such a local organization or team, helps you share yourself with others, and become a support for one another.
Achieve your Goals. Motivation comes from feeling secure both within yourself and your environment. Practicing good mental health allows you to stay grounded in the present, with an ability to safely look towards the future and discover your true potential. You may find yourself making goals that align more with your values, identity, and are reasonable to obtain.
Ability to Make Choices. Having a calm mindset, good boundaries, and personalized coping skills, allow you to focus more on what is important to you in the moment. With your mind focused, you don't worry too much about the remarks of others, mistakes made in the past, or worst case scenarios. Therefore, with having the ability to think clearly, you have more power to make decisions that benefit you.
Mental Health Matters because it is what makes you YOU, and taking care of it allows you to enjoy the life you want to live.
Tips on How to Give Yourself a Mental Health Checkup
You may have an unconscious checklist to make sure your body is feeling well and ready for the day, such as brushing your teeth or drinking water, why not have a checklist to 'check in' with your mental health as well? Look at these items and see how many you are doing on a daily or weekly basis. Learning to maintain daily mental health practices can led to a more meaningful life but also a more joyful experience for you and those around you.
Talk it Out. Remember that awful stigma surrounding mental health? One huge way to get rid of that stigma, while also expressing and flexing those mental health muscles is to just talk about it. Share your feelings, hopes, fears, and mistakes that you've learned from. Sharing creates a community of safety within others and allows people to feel heard. Feeling weird about sharing your feelings? Start small, find one friend, family member, trusted work mentor, with who that you can have an honest mental health conservation. There is strength in being vulnerable with others. The more you normalize your mental health experiences, the less anxiety there will be about sharing what's really going on with your mind.
Make Connections. Change happens in discomfort, and it may be discomforting for some to reach out and meet new people. Although brand new connections are always welcomed, strengthening current relationships also increases our mental health status. Nowadays, not all connections are even done face to face. The connection can also be finding a good mental health related social media group, or podcasts to hear about the experiences and tips from others. No matter if you meet someone new, build up a relationship, or join a group, the connection should make you feel respected and supported.
Keep an Eye on Physical Health. Your physical behaviors are still a part of your mental health as our minds and bodies are so interconnected. Getting enough sleep, eating well, moving around every hour, and limiting toxins from entering our body all affect our mental wellbeing. Being able to present ourselves in a way that you feel truly expresses yourself, such as through clothing, cosmetics, and use of scents, can help you feel more confident.
Create Boundaries. Sometimes saying NO is the best thing for your mental health. Think about it, saying No to things that no longer serve you can free up time to complete things that you actually care about and want to do. Creating a schedule, separating work and distractions, and standing up for yourself can all make your day more calm. Making more structure in your life allows for less uncertainty to take place, therefore causing less stressful situations to pop up.
Explore your Goodness. Everyone has strengths inside themselves, yes even you. Making a list of your best qualities or qualities that you wish you could share more often with others, creates a roadmap of the best parts of yourself. The more aware that you are of your good qualities, the most likely you will be to use them.
Giving Back. One of the top ways to feel connected with the world is to give back. When you help someone it develops a sense of purpose and belonging. Whenever you volunteer your time, energy, or skillset to someone else it creates a shared appreciation with another person.
Ask for Help. You are not alone in this world for a reason. Whether it's struggling to share what you're thinking, feeling overwhelmed with prioritizing your mental health, or watching someone close to you struggle with their mental health, it could be hard to go through it alone. If you feel like you need help don't be afraid to contact a mental health professional, it is their job to help you get your mental health back on track. If you feel like therapy may be a good fit, I'm here to help you.
Take care of your mental health, and create your mental health checklist today!
Center for Disease Center and Prevention. (2018, October 31). Well-Being Concepts. Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/hrqol/wellbeing.htm
CMHA BC and Anxiety Canada. (2016). Wellness Module 1: Mental Health Matters. Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-module/wellness-module-1-mental-health-matters
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020, May 28). What Is Mental Health? Retrieved October 09, 2020, from https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health
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