Mental health influences how you feel, think, and behave in daily life. It also affects your ability to cope with stress, build relationships, overcome challenges, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships. Strong mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics.
You have positive mental health if you are
The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.
A zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.
The flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change.
A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.
The relationship between resilience and mental health
Self-confidence and high self-esteem.
A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.
The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.
Having solid mental health doesn’t mean that you never go through hard times or experience life problems. All people go through disappointments, change, and loss. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause anxiety, sadness, and stress. But just as physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from illness or injury, people with strong mental health are better able to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This ability is called resilience.
People who are emotionally and mentally resilient have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain flexible, focused, and productive, in hard times as well as good. Their resilience also makes them less afraid of new experiences or an uncertain future. Even when they don’t immediately know how a problem will get resolved, they are hopeful that a solution will eventually be found.
There are several of ways to take control of your mental health.
How to boost your mental health
Anyone can suffer from mental health problems and over a lifetime most of us will.
People ignore the emotional messages that tell them something is wrong and try toughing it out by distracting themselvesselves or self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or self-destructive behaviors.
The truth is you don’t have to feel bad. There are tips you can adopt to boost your mood, become more resilient. But just as it requires effort to build and maintain physical health, so it is with mental health. We have to work harder these days to ensure strong mental health, simply because there are so many ways that life takes a toll on our emotional well-being.
Take care of your physical needs
We may be talking about the health of your mind, but mental health and your body are interconnected. Healthy mind and body,goes the old Roman adage, and in many ways this is absolutely true. It’s very difficult to feel mentally on point if your physical needs are not catered for. For example, it’s very hard to feel good about yourself if you feel unwashed or you’ve had nothing to eat.
When caring for yourself, you should make sure to:
Eat nutritious meals that include all the main food groups: proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and fats.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol that can adversely impact your mood.
Drink plenty of fluids, particularly water to avoid dehydration.
Enjoy a good standard of bodily and environmental hygiene. This means washing yourself, your clothes and cleaning your living space regularly.
Get enough sleep. According to Better Health Victoria healthy adults need about eight hours of sleep every night.
Avoid harmful activities such as smoking or drinking to excess.
Make time for social connection
Humans are social creatures, and even the most introverted among us find comfort in the company of like-minded people. The best type of interaction involves face-to-face connection. Chatting and Skype conversations are great for keeping long distance relationships alive, but nothing beats the closeness of a physical encounter. Having a phone call with a friend or close family member also gives you the opportunity to air concerns or worries that may be weighing you down.
Exercise and physical activity
Exercise is a way to help treat mental health complaints.When you do physical activity your brain releases endorphins which help to lift your mood and also give you energy. Regular exercise can also help you to sleep better and feel more at one with yourself. And don’t think you need to be running miles or pumping weights in the gym. Simply going for a short walk or tackling weeds in the garden can elevate your heart rate and provide a good work out.
Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out cute videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.
Keep it cool for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60˚ and 67˚ Fahrenheit.
Feeling anxious? Take a trip down memory lane and do some coloring for about 20 minutes to help you clear your mind. Pick a design that’s geometric and a little complicated for the best effect.
Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.
Dance around while you do your housework. Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals).
Relax in a warm bath once a week. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.
Feeling stressed? Smile. It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down.
Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet–they are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia among their many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.
Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone – cortisol, and boosts oxytocin – which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.
Sometimes, we don’t need to add new activities to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we’ve already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.
Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple pieces of dark chocolate every few days. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.
Positive mental health allows you to enjoy all the activities you want to participate in. It doesn’t mean you will never be sad or go through emotionally-challenging times. However, those with positive mental health will be able to bounce back more easily from these experiences