We are all fully aware of how good physical health undeniably contributes to a good quality life. However, there are still many of us who do not realize that good mental health is equally important. In fact, good mental health is a necessity if one wants to live a complete and full life. It is now widely recognized that those with good emotional health are more likely to handle life’s inevitable challenges, build strong relationships, cope with bad things and bounce back to move on, and thus lead more productive, fulfilling lives.
The absence of good mental health manifests itself in various mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, or other psychological issues. It is the presence of positive thinking and positive characteristics in our lives that is crucial for emotional stability because not feeling bad is NOT the same as feeling good. As such, we all should make sure that we do not neglect our mental health but do all we can to maintain it and, more important, to boost it any time possible.
The recent mental health statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. Such problems are equally common in men and women, but the types of problems differ. Women are one-and-a-half times more likely to be affected by anxiety and depression, while men suffer more from substance abuse and anti-social personality disorders. Men are also more prone to suicide. Serious mental health problems are also more common than people think, 1 in 100 has a severe mental health condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
So how do we ensure that our mental health stays at its best? What can we do to boost it, and how do we maintain positivity in our lives? The good news is that there are indeed many things we can do to boost our mood, to build our resilience and to lead more enjoyable lives.
1) Improve Your Physical Health
The best way is to introduce some type of regular exercise into your weekly routine. Exercise not only strengthens the hearth and lungs, but also releases serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and endorphins that have an energizing effect and lift our mood. The effects of exercise are felt instantly, unlike drugs which can take several weeks to kick in.
Depression is commonly associated with sleep problems so by introducing regular exercise individuals can increase their levels of activity and consequently improve their sleeping patterns. Regular exercise reduces stress and tension and helps clear the mind.
Another benefit of exercise is that it contributes to a more positive body image, which can be helpful for those wishing to increase their self-confidence and self-esteem. Having more positive body image and feeling better about the way we are perceived means that we do not mind socializing and feel good around others.
2) Build Your Resilience
In order to cope with life’s ups and downs and to strengthen our mental health it is necessary to build up our emotional resilience. This is our ability to maintain, or recover good feeling about ourselves, independent of the environment we may find ourselves in. Emotional resilience can be achieved in many ways but the most crucial are by:
- Talking to someone, e.g. to a friend, family member or a counsellor, because communication releases tension that may build up inside.
- Improving your self-esteem – this is particularly important since many situations in our lives, such as, relationship break ups, putting on weight, not getting the job we want, can dramatically lower our self-esteem. People wishing to improve their self-esteem must treat themselves in a positive but honest way.
- Managing your stress levels – reduce your working hours, ask for help, get some regular ‘me-time’ when you can completely relax and unwind by developing good relationships with your friends, family or your partner.
- And eventually, enjoying yourself!
3) Take Care of Yourself
It is important that you pay attention to your own needs and feelings. You must strive to achieve a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy, in order to prevent a build up of stress and negative emotions. Consider learning and discovering new things, which is strongly encouraged as well as the pursuit of the beauty of nature or art. Studies show that simply walking through a garden can lower blood pressure and reduce stress, so if you want to achieve a natural high and feel good go for a stroll in a park or an art gallery. Finally, choose a well balanced diet and limit your alcohol intake and it is guaranteed that you will feel much better, both physically and emotionally.
4) Do Not Assume That it is Too Late to Make Changes
Whatever internal or external risk factors have shaped your mental health, remember, these can always be counteracted with protective factors such as a healthy lifestyle, strong relationships and many coping strategies. So do not give up!