Mental Health for Everyone
The social stigma surrounding mental health, as with physical disabilities, is slowly diminishing. Over time, it has become more and more evident that the mind and body are connected, and that an individual’s mental state can both positively and negatively affect a person’s overall well-being. Because of this, there are many tools available to assist a person experiencing mental health issues. But does a person need to hit rock bottom in order to start improving their mental and emotional wellbeing? Not necessarily. Is there such a thing as a proactive approach to mental health? Yes.
Here are three things you can do to proactively improve your mental health.
Connect with others
Sometimes, it’s nice to be alone. But since humans are relational beings, you should aim to have at least one meaningful connection each day. Chances are, you already have some resources available for this. Unless a person lives alone with no other living things, like any kind of pet, there are opportunities to talk to someone. It is not always necessary to talk to a therapist or counselor. The more you isolate yourself, the harder time you will have if an issue does come up because you will have no one else to lean on. In many cases, simply a willing and sympathetic listener is enough for an issue to become more manageable.
A good way to make sure the talking and listening happens is to have some kind of get-together or meet-up scheduled in advance. It doesn’t have to be a formally-designated support group or therapy group. But it does need to be a safe environment in which to express any feelings that come to mind. Furthermore, at least one person in the group needs to be able to really listen to what is being said.
Approach it logically
If you consider yourself a “thinker” instead of a “feeler,” embrace it! You don’t have to process your feelings the same way as someone else does. But you do have to process them. Many people find that journaling or talking about problems brings more logic, objectivity, and distance to situations. If that sounds daunting, try taking a video or voice memo of yourself processing your feelings out loud. Also, once they’re out in the open, so to speak, problems don’t seem so insurmountable. There is some truth in the old saying,” A problem shared is a problem halved.”
Take care of your body
Physical activity helps improve mental health for many people. There are those who swear by their daily run, or their gym time to help put things into perspective. The physical activity acts as a moving meditation, a way of clearing the mind, preventing the thinking brain from hijacking thought processes. Plus, physical activity has the added benefit of helping a person get or stay in shape.
What NOT to do
There are a few things you should NOT do when trying to cope with or overcome mental health challenges. These things include anything that involves avoiding or self-medicating feelings, such as alcohol, drugs, or mind-altering medications, never helps in the long run. In fact, using substances, drinking alcohol inappropriately, or developing any kind of addictive behavior only makes things worse. This is mostly because the addictive substance or behavior short-circuits thoughts and numbs feelings, so none of them are addressed and appropriately dealt with in a healthy way.
Achieving good mental health is unique to each person. For some, it’s as simple as talking things over with a trusted friend. For others, a visit with a mental health professional, psychotherapy, or medication may be appropriate courses of action. In any case, a consultation with one of the people at RISE, www.riseservicesinc.org, is always a good place to start. To begin the process, simply complete and submit a contact form. RISE will take it from there.