An article that is a mixture of personal feelings and researched information.
Mental health wellness is defined by the World Health Organization as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community."
When you read that, if you are feeling overwhelmed, then the definition may have added to your stress. Or it may have had you making a mental check to see if your mental wellness is on par with their meaning.
Mental wellness takes work; for some, that comes more naturally than to others. I do not know anyone who goes around wishing to be sad.
Everyone wants to be happy and enjoy life to the fullest. This doesn't mean that a happy person is always smiling, it just means that the person feels a positive sense of mental well-being more than they think the negative.
I am going to get real with you. As I write this, I am in a state of a lack of emotion. More news was shared with me that brought a realness to this loss of hope that seems to be the theme of 2020. I think I have been in a state of denial, trying to pretend that everything is normal and that the world pandemic is not causing harm to millions of families. Or that inequality still exists when we live in a world that should not judge someone based on their skin color.
People worldwide are struggling with sickness, loss of business, loss of jobs, loss of financial stability, and, honestly, a loss of hope. From the Coronavirus to the lack of equality facing the black community, and other minority communities in America, I feel a heaviness in my heart and in my mind.
Heaviness makes it harder to keep my mental wellness healthy. And when my mental wellness is struggling, so is my ability to show compassion and offer support.
But when my mental wellness is healthy, I have the strength in me to be part of the change that will make our world a better place established in equality, compassion, and hope.
My heaviness this week stems from the news that another person I knew took their life. It breaks my heart that this person felt the only way to make their situation better was to die by suicide, leaving behind a wife and children they dearly loved.
Loss is heavy. No matter how it happened or who it happened to, loss of any kind is heartbreaking and gut-wrenching. We could sit here and figure out what brings people to do the things they do, but in the end, it is speculation and even judgment.
Instead, I choose to take the hopelessness that so many people are feeling and figure out how to change our mental wellness for good. Through hard work and verbalized struggles, we can lift each other up to strengthen our mental well-being so that we can "be the change we wish to see in the world."
Mental Wellness Challenge Routine to Practice Daily
Just like physical health requires us to be proactive, the same is with mental health. If we want to get in shape or lose weight, we don't sit on the couch, hoping our body will miraculously transform. No, we get off the couch, we start moving our body through exercise, and we make changes to our diet.
The same is for our mental health. We cannot just sit on the couch, hoping our mental wellness will miraculously improve. We have to be proactive and do something about it.
If we want to experience positive mental well-being, we must regularly do things to change our mental wellness. By incorporating these mental wellness steps into a regular routine, you can see changes in your well-being that can improve your quality of life.
Mindfulness is the process of learning to be present and aware. The opposite of mindfulness would be emotional autopilot, which is not healthy.
Mindfulness allows you to be aware of what you are doing at the moment so that you can make healthy and positive changes in your mind and behavior.
Mindfulness allows you to observe events in a non-judgmental way, enabling you to detach from negative emotions.
When you are mindful, your emotions are regulated, you can stop getting upset, angry, or fearful over things you cannot control. You are also not flooding your brain with fear and worry about the future or resentments from the past. This results in your being able to reset your emotional state to calm and peaceful.
Mindfulness is best experienced when you practice it daily. Even if it is 3 minutes a day, you are on your way to a healthier state of mind.
As you practice daily mindfulness, you will experience:
- Calmness and less stress
- Greater clarity in your thinking and ability to focus
- That things that used to upset you won't bother you as much
Try This: For the next two weeks, create a daily practice of mindfulness. Take 3-5 minutes out of your day and be present.
Did you know that what you take in from your environment impacts your emotional well-being? Whether positive or negative, those feelings or thoughts stay active in your subconscious mental space.
If you only ever listen to negative news, your emotional well-being is going to be negative. Just like if you surround yourself with positivity, your emotional well-being is going to be more positive.
Have you heard seen the science experiment where kids speak kind words to one plant and mean words to another plant? The plant that had positive words spoken to it blooms and thrives. The plant that had negative words spoken to it looks neglected and withers away. It's the same with our minds.
The more negativity we allow in our environment, the more of a decline we will see in our mental health. And the more positive thinking and words we allow into our environment, the healthier our mental wellness will be.
Try This: For the next two weeks, do an environmental detox.
Go through your daily routine and remove anything that generates a negative emotion in your mind or your feelings. Fill those spaces with positive thinking and feelings.
Examples of a negative environment:
- the news
- people or conversations that drag you down
- watching or listening to things that make you sad
Examples of a positive environment:
- listen or watch things that inspire you
- find things that make you laugh
- spend time with pets and people who make you happy
- do activities that bring a smile to your face
- keep a gratitude journal
- hang positive words and encouragements around your house and read them when feeling down
Once the two weeks are up, you should feel a difference in your mental well-being.
Self-Care and Self-Compassion
Self-care and self-compassion are instrumental in your mental well-being. Without loving yourself and giving yourself space to make mistakes, you can't be happy.
It is easy to self-criticize as a way to motivate yourself, but it is really damaging to your soul. Self-compassion is about learning to forgive your flaws and be kind to yourself.
Don't be controlled by your inner critic. Embrace what you see as flaws and learn to love the journey you are on.
It is also easy to forget to take care of yourself. No matter what stage you are at in life, sometimes it is easier to give to others and let your own needs fall flat. But what if you started to embrace your needs and wants and "treat yo self?" you would end up seeing that the more you take care of yourself, the more you are actually able to care for others.
Try This: For self-compassion, anytime the inner critic starts speaking, stop, and replace that critique with something positive.
For example, if your inner critic says, "I am stupid." Stop that thought, and say, "I am not stupid. I am smart. I just came up with a solution to the problem at work."
As you learn to replace the cynical inner critic with the truth, you will see that you give yourself more room to not be perfect.
For self-care, try to spend an hour a week doing something that you would typically not do for yourself.
For me, this means that I tell people when I need to be alone. My time alone is my way to unwind, breathe, and reflect on myself. It is healing to my mind but also boosts my energy. Find your own way to self-care, something that is unique to you.
Your mind, body, and soul are one. They cannot function without each other. You cannot experience mental wellness if you do not take care of your physical health.
Physical health involves exercise and nutrition.
More research is showing that nutrition plays an essential role in your brain health. The study indicates that neurotransmitters in the brain involved in well-being are directly affected by other areas of your body like your gut. Nutrition is just as important as exercise.
Exercise releases endorphins into the body, which results in feelings of pleasure. The newest studies show that 20 minutes of cardio a day significantly improve mood and sleep quality for up to 12 hours.
For me, running is my therapy. A 30-minute run improves my ability to regulate emotions and experience greater well-being.
Try This: Physical Health Challenge- for the next two weeks, try walking 1 hour a day, 5 times a week, or jogging 30 minutes a day 5 times a week, plus add 2 days of strength training exercises.
Nutrition Health Challenge- for the next two weeks, eat a well-balanced diet. Give up processed foods, sugar, and alcohol.
The Conclusion to Changing Your Life through Mental Wellness
The reason many people don't ever find their happiness is because they don't try. They think it is just going to happen to them, and they don't realize that mental wellness take works, just like physical wellness.
When you practice strengthening your mental wellness through these simple practices, you end up being able to love not only yourself better, but those around you.
Mental wellness gives us the ability to practice and show love, compassion, and support to those who need hope. And when we do that, we end up helping change the world.