How is your mental health?
Mental Health according to the World Health Organisation is not just the absence of mental illness. It is a “state of well-being”, where, we have the resilience to deal with the ups and downs of daily life, are fully engaged, feel happy and have the ability to reach our full potential.
When you feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed by life, you can short-change yourself by getting used to accepting the feeling of “just getting by” as being enough, but it’s not. When you recognise the benefits of good mental health and take steps to achieve it, you are more likely to live the happy and fulfilled life you are entitled to.
Make Mental Well-Being A Priority
1. Relationships Will Be Better
When you are feeling anxious, stressed or overwhelmed by life, you may feel disconnected from friends and family or be irritable and impatient causing strain and tension in your relationships. On the other hand, when you are feeling good about yourself and optimistic about life, your relationships will be stronger, healthier and more positive.
2. You Will Take Better Care of Yourself
When you are feeling under par, often the first person you neglect is yourself. This will not only affect your own mental well-being, it will have a negative impact on your relationships with others.
“You Cannot Pour from An Empty Cup”
It’s ok and even necessary to take time to do activities that rejuvenate you and recharge your batteries. Do whatever works best for you; Listen to your favourite music, play it loud, sing and dance along if you want to, sit down with a cup of tea to read your book or watch TV. Spend some time with friends or time alone whichever works best for you.
There are no rules, do whatever helps you to feel good and remember:
You are entitled to spend time doing things that make you feel better.
There is no need to feel guilty about taking time out for yourself.
It is a win-win; When you feel better in yourself everyone around you will benefit too.
3. You Will Feel Happier and More Fulfilled
People who have good mental health are generally more relaxed, experience greater contentment, have more zest for life and find it easier to laugh and have fun. When your mental health is compromised, you can lose a lot of these feelings. You can find yourself focusing on the negative aspects of life and find it hard to feel joy or happiness.
When you are calmer and more relaxed you are more likely to notice and acknowledge the good things that happen in your life, even the small things. This balances positive feelings with negative ones and makes you happier and more satisfied with your life.
The next time something happens that makes you feel good, pause for a few moments, acknowledge to yourself, “this feels really good”. Take a few breaths to really let the good feeling sink in.
4. You Will Bounce Back from Difficult Times
It is inevitable that you will face some struggles in your life, many of which will be outside of your control. However, if your mental health is strong you are more likely to have the resilience needed to cope with life’s ups and downs.
Resilience is the ability to bounce back from life’s problems. It enables you to bend rather than break when things go wrong. While research has shown that accepting and processing difficult emotions is essential to overall well-being, this can be a very hard thing to do when you are not feeling very good.
By taking steps to build resilience not only will you be able to deal with and overcome problems, you can also learn and grow stronger from these experiences.
Ways to Build Resilience
Identify a support network of the people in your life who you really trust.
Learn to take a step back from negative experiences and look at them in isolation rather than a reflection of your whole life.
Recognise the strengths you have used to deal with difficult times in the past, you will have survived hard times before and can again.
5. You Will Have Better Physical Health
We know from research that mental and physical health are connected, and one supports the other. However, when you feel stressed, anxious or depressed it can be hard to find the motivation to look after your physical health.
It is so easy to get into a negative cycle of comfort eating, not exercising and not feeling motivated to do things you know are good for you. If you’re like me, you will then add to your mental stress by berating yourself for not trying harder, your mental health will take a downward spiral and it becomes a vicious cycle. If this all sounds exhausting it’s because it is.
You can change this one step at a time. If you work on improving your mental well-being, this in turn will increase your motivation to look after your physical health. One of the easiest and fastest ways to do this is to start with gentle physical exercise.
Healthy Body = Healthy Brain
If you haven’t been exercising for a while, start small, don’t put yourself under pressure, walking for 10 minutes is better than not walking at all. Walking has been shown to be effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Regular walking can even reduce the risk of depression by up to 30%.
If you can, try to walk in natural environment, such as in a wood or by the sea. If this is not possible, take the time to notice nature in your surroundings, simple things like flowers growing in a garden or a park , the clouds floating overhead or birds flying by will give your spirits an extra lift.
A little exercise is better than none
The important thing is to find an exercise you enjoy and build up gradually. When you are feeling demotivated, try to remember that it is a scientifically proven fact that exercise will improve your mood.
6. Your Brain Will Work Better
Stress and worry cloud your thinking and affect your brain’s ability to work properly. Taking care of your mental health and well being will help you to:
Have better attention and memory.
Be more focused.
Be more creative in finding solutions to problems or difficult situations.
Slow down the ageing process – by having a sense of purpose and meaning in life.
It is important to build healthy routines, activities and habits into our daily lives including; regular exercise, diet, relaxation and good quality sleep. These are the foundations of good mental health and well-being that will help your brain to function better and help you to stay motivated to be proactive in taking care of yourself.
When you are feeling motivated you will have better routines and be more likely to stick to them. While you will always experience some obstacles and difficulties on your way, you will have better ability to take these in your stride, deal with them and continue you on your path in a more focused and optimistic way.
“People with a strong physical constitution can tolerate extremes of hot and cold; people of strong mental health can handle anger, grief, joy and the other emotions” Marcus Aurelius