Taking care of our mental health is something we tend to brush aside until the neglect has caused poor mental health and has begun to wreak havoc in our daily lives.
Family obligations, work responsibilities and the pressure we put on ourselves to Do It All, will catch up to us if we are not taking care of our emotional needs.
Overwhelm will cause stress and anxiety as our list of things to do grows longer and our fuse grows shorter. Family relationships start to become stressed. Our work environments seem tense. And, we find ourselves feeling frustrated at the drop of a hat.
The truth is –
life has a way of pulling you down, knocking you over and making you feel a little insignificant at times. It’s normal to feel fear, anxiety, sadness and fatigue at some point in your life. This is especially true if you’re going through an emotionally significant life event.
But, it’s the state of your mental health that is going to determine whether you bounce back with both arms swinging or you lay on the mat until it’s over. You get to decide your reactions. You get to decide to be mentally healthy.
What is Mental Health?
Many times when mental health is discussed, it’s because we are experiencing emotional distress. Being emotionally unstable makes certain life events more difficult to handle. And when it gets too hard to deal with on our own, this is when most of us turn to a healthcare professional.
This is why most people, when they hear the term “mental health,” automatically think:
ANXIETY, DEPRESSION, UNHAPPINESS.
It’s because we only talk about it when we’re anxious, depressed and unhappy. However, mental health is not defined by these illnesses or their symptoms.
I like to define mental health as the “status of the mind.”
So, how do you know the status of your mind or what shape your mental health is in?
Your mental well-being is comprised of three areas:
Psychological Health – our thought process
It’s hard to find a true definition of psychological health on the web. Like mental health, it’s determined by many factors. And, only in recent years, has it been studied more with the discovery of positive psychology.
Simply put, psychological health is how your mind works (your thought process) to guide you to decision making. It is what determines your personal definition of normal.
Behavioral Health – how we act or react
When you think behavioral health, think habits, such as eating habits. Think daily routines or rituals. These are things that make up your behavioral health and impact your social well-being.
Because many habits and rituals are formed early on in life based on your upbringing, it’s often difficult to break unhealthy lifestyle habits. Practicing self-awareness can make all the difference when trying to create a healthy lifestyle.
Emotional Health – our feelings
Being emotionally healthy doesn’t mean you never get sad or angry or feel stressed. Despite what some may think, emotionally healthy people are not happy all the time.
What being emotionally healthy does mean is:
- You have the ability manage negative feelings.
- You can cope with stresses in every day life.
- You’re aware of your thoughts and feelings and don’t let your feelings control your behavior.
- You can successfully work through problems without falling apart.
Ultimately, our mental health status plays a major role in our mood, actions, and problem-solving abilities (logical thinking). So what causes poor mental health?
Causes of Poor Mental Health
Poor mental health can be caused by any combination of psychological, biological and environmental factors. In other words, there are many reasons you might experience poor mental health.
Similar to how our physical health can slowly decline by neglecting to eat healthy and exercise, our mental health can also decline by ignoring our emotions and neglecting to practice self-care.
Here are a few of the lifestyle choices that can lead to poor mental health over time:
- Poor Diet
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Overworking Yourself
- Lack of Social Interactions
- Consuming Drugs & Alcohol
And, just as our physical health can change instantly by a significant life event, so can the state of our mental health.
When we fail to lead a healthy lifestyle, experiencing a major life event, such as a death in he family or a paralyzing accident, can cause severe emotional distress. This can create a drastic decline in mental health status.
Consequences of Poor Mental Health (on Your Body)
When mental health issues go unattended, they lead to serious mental illness. Schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder are a few types of mental health disorders in this category.
If not addressed, these mental illnesses can have major effects on your body. They can even lead to premature death.
Some life threatening physical health problems caused by mental health issues are:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
Mental Health Tips
Our lifestyle choices and past experiences play a huge part in our mental health. In most cases, we need to form new habits to replace the old negative behaviors and thought processes. Building new habits will allow you to grow and maintain a positive mental health.
You will also need to learn coping skills for managing difficult emotions and overcoming negative thinking if you want to have a quality of life that exudes confidence and happiness.
To help build and maintain a positive mental health, you can practice these healthy habits:
- Exercise daily.
- Make better food choices.
- Get enough rest.
- Talk about it.
- Practice self-awareness.
These coping skills and healthy habits might seem basic. However, these basics can provide the motivation and confidence you need to overcome emotional distress and psychological impairment.
If you are struggling with anxiety, stress, or depression or just can’t shake your negative outlook, these posts could benefit you:
How To Cope With Anxiety When You’re Feeling Anxious at Work
Why Do I Crave Junk Food When I’m Stressed Out?
How to Overcome Your Negative Outlook & Be More Positive
3 Big Reasons Your Need to Make You a Priority
How to Improve Emotional Health & Combat Anxiety & Overwhelm
Pin the image below to save these mental health resources for later!
Know When to Ask for Help
It’s important as individuals, parents, caretakers and friends, for us to take care of ourselves so we can be present and provide for others.
If you feel like you are drowning in emotional overwhelm, you are chronically fatigued and unhappy, you have probably been neglecting your mental health needs.
Remember – it’s normal to feel anxious, sad or frustrated in difficult situations. However, when it is uncontrollably affecting your every day living and activities, you should reach out for help. Talk to your spouse, your parent or your healthcare provider. Don’t hold back out of fear. Don’t wait until a crisis has occurred. It is you who gets to decide the outcome.