Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. We touched on the importance of seeking mental help so if you haven’t read that, be sure to do so.
Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
Ways to maintain positive mental health include:
- Getting professional help if you need it
- Connecting with others
- Staying positive
- Getting physically active
- Helping others
- Getting enough sleep
- Developing coping skills
Why maintaining a healthy mind is important?
Just as physical fitness helps our bodies to stay strong, mental fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a state of good mental health. When we are mentally healthy, we enjoy our life and environment, and the people in it. We can be creative, learn, try new things, and take risks. We are better able to cope with difficult times in our personal and professional lives. We feel the sadness and anger that can come with the death of a loved one, a job loss or relationship problems and other difficult events, but in time, we are able to get on with and enjoy our lives once again.
Nurturing our mental health can also help us combat or prevent the mental health problems that are sometimes associated with a chronic physical illness. In some cases, it can prevent the onset or relapse of a physical or mental illness. Managing stress well, for instance, can have a positive impact on the heart.
Should you find yourself experiencing one or more of the above signs, do things like:
- Get physical:
Physical activity is increasingly becoming part of the prescription for treating depression & anxiety. It is not a cure alone but does have an impact in dealing with it.
- Eat right:
Making the right nutritional decisions can have an impact on your mental health.
Eating a balanced diet of fresh fruits & vegetables, foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids like fish, nuts, seeds & eggs. Have proteins & whole grains too.
- Manage stress:
Stress is a fact of life. No matter how much we might long for a stress-free existence, the fact is, stress is actually necessary. It’s how we respond to stress that can negatively affect our lives.
Meditation and other relaxation methods, exercise, visualization are all helpful techniques for reducing these negative impacts of stress.
- Get help:
There is absolutely nothing better you can do for yourself than getting the help you need when you need it. Reach out to a friend or family member, to begin with, & talk to them about the things that bother you. Do not bottle it up, as the saying goes, you will explode.