Improving Your Mental Health and Wellness
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), wellness is not the absence of disease, illness or stress; rather, wellness is the presence of a purposeful life, active involvement in satisfying work and play, healthy and joyful relationships, a healthy body and living environment, and happiness. SAMHSA’s definition of wellness is: “maintaining an overall quality of life and the pursuit of optimal emotional, mental and physical health.”
For people with, or at risk for, behavioral health conditions, focusing on mental health and wellness is particularly vital. It is equally important to focus on our mental health as it is to focus on our physical health. There are many ways to improve or maintain mental health and wellness, but what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to figure out what works best for you and your specific situation. The following are eight tips for mental wellness:
- Connection: Research has demonstrated the benefits of social connections, which include happiness, better health, and a longer life
- Physical Activity: Daily physical activity can help your mood by decreasing stress, anger and tension, as well as reducing anxiety and depression.
- A Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet boosts your energy and fuels your brain, and good nutrition can help in times of stress.
- Plenty of Rest: If you get enough sleep each night, you’re more likely to perform better and enjoy greater well-being.
- Think Positively and Practice Gratitude: Thinking negative thoughts can bring down our moods and even our health. Instead, try practicing gratitude and thinking positively.
- Help Others: Research indicates that those who help other people experience less depression, fewer pains, and better health.
- Create Joy in Your Life: Laughter decreases pain and promotes muscle relaxation. Creating feel-good experiences in your life can improve your ability to bounce back from stress, solve problems and think positively.
- Seek Professional Help if You Need It: Professional help can make a major difference. You do not have to be in a crisis to reach out for help. A mental health professional can help you with problem solving and coping strategies.
It is a common misconception that only people with mental illnesses should pay attention to their mental health. But the truth is that our emotions, attitudes and thoughts affect our productivity, energy and overall health. Focusing on our mental wellness strengthens our ability to cope and deal with situations, whether they are minor or serious. We all can take simple steps that make a big difference in promoting our health and well-being.