January is National Mental Wellness Month and a chance to respect our mental well-being as part of our total body health. There is more to mental wellness than just mental health, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” The wellness movement teaches people to take care of their health before they develop an illness by eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep. The same approach is valuable for mental wellness and a proactive approach is crucial to warding off a negative mental state.
Many aspects of day-to-day life can have a negative impact on emotional and cognitive well-being, including relationships, financial issues, work, school, excessive stress, or even substance abuse. Physical limitations and chronic illness can also make a person susceptible. Fortunately, there are easy strategies that can be adopted to improve your mental well-being:
1. Develop a positive attitude–People with positive attitudes are apt to be happier, more successful, and better able to handle crisis and stress. Positive thoughts and a positive attitude help you have a better perspective on circumstances or events in your life. You are more likely to achieve goals if you believe in yourself. Be thankful for what is good in life, and avoid dwelling on the negative issues.
2. Self-appreciation- Recognize your strengths and weaknesses, avoid speaking negatively about yourself, laugh at your mistakes, and learn from them.
3. Mental resilience- View a crisis situation as an opportunity. Creative problem solving, like listing the positive things that can result from the problems you face, can expand your options and help you cope and recover.
4. Laughter- Humor is a great stress reducer and laughing can improve both physical and mental health.
5. Affiliation- Developing and maintaining friends and an extended support network is crucial for a state of well-being. People need one another to share and cope
6. Exercise–Regular physical exercise increases energy and releases important neurotransmitters in the brain to ward off depression and anxiety. Self-awareness and mental exercises such as yoga and meditation can also reduce stress and improve mental health.
7. Improve your diet–During times of stress people often skip meals, overeat, and/or eat bad foods. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fiber will help you maintain the physical and mental stress you need to deal with the situation.
8. Get enough rest- Adequate sleep is needed to improve physical health and cognitive function to help you cope with stress.
Be good to yourself, physically and mentally for improved health!