January is identified as mental wellness month. There’s no better time than the beginning of a new year to take stock of your mental health and learn new ways to improve your overall well-being.
What Is Mental Wellness?
The World Health Organization, which you’re probably familiar with as WHO, defines mental wellness 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 is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
This doesn’t mean that you simply have an absence of mental health issues. It also does not mean that you’re just coping well with any disorders that you may have. Mental wellness refers to having positive characteristics that allow you to thrive, even during times of stress.
Those with a hefty sense of mental wellness have some traits in common.
- Contentment refers to feeling secure no matter what your circumstances. Those with high levels of contentment are able to laugh and enjoy life.
- Resiliency means that you can stand up to stressful situations, effectively deal with them, and return to a sense of normality. Resilient individuals can adapt to changing situations and life events.
- Work/life balance is healthy. Having this balance means that you can separate your home and work life. Those with balance in this area make sure to allow time for both work and play.
- Ability to build/maintain relationships refers to your social abilities and confidence. Those who are good at managing their relationships adhere to the concept of give and take. They understand the importance of other people in their lives.
- Self-confidence refers to high self-esteem. These individuals have a strong sense of self, use their strengths to their advantage, and learn to overcome any weaknesses.
- An unwavering sense of purpose can help with all of these characteristics, even when times get tough. When you have meaning in your life, you tend to take more positive steps to accomplish your goals.
During mental wellness month, you may want to take a look at your own mental health. Determine if there are some positive characteristics that you need to work on. Additionally, you should identify potential obstacles or a negative mindset that might prevent you from reaching your full potential.
Mental Wellness Month: Tips to Improve Your Overall Mental Wellness
Even if you’ve neglected your mental wellness in the past, it’s never too late to make improvements. In addition to bringing awareness to the issue, mental wellness month is designed as a time for you to become more mentally resilient. You can learn to better handle stressful situations and negative circumstances that often occur as a part of life.
Although you may be new to working on your mental wellness, there are some steps that you can take right now to improve the health of your mind. Stick with these tips, and you’ll soon notice that you’re more content at home, work, and in your relationships. You’ll be more resilient and able to deal with stress and change easily.
You’ve probably heard a lot about mindfulness. That’s because researchers are finding that living in the present moment without judgment can help you to be more positive and to better deal with situations as they arise.
Practicing mindfulness or quieting your mind with meditation or prayer can help you to stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. You learn to live your best life right now.
There are plenty of resources that are dedicated to the topic of mindfulness. You can also talk with a therapist or counselor. They can help guide you through the process so that you can incorporate this practice into your daily life.
Look for the Positives
It seems so much easier to focus on the negative when the world around you seems to be falling apart. However, you’re more likely to stay in that mindset unless you work to pull yourself out of it. You can start by finding some small positive things that are also happening. For example, if you have a place to live, at least you are warm, secure, and protected from the elements.
Another way to find the positive is to look for the silver lining. Perhaps you can find a new opportunity within a negative situation.
Additionally, you can practice some tips on becoming more positive. Create a more positive environment where you live and where you work. Learn to identify the fears that may be holding you back so that you can overcome them, and you’ll soon see more positive effects in your life.
Take A Break
If your life is hectic with your time spent running from one event to the next, this can become overwhelming for both your mind and your body. Be sure to find time to take small breaks throughout the day. You can do something relaxing that you enjoy, or you might choose to just spend the time existing. This would be a great time to pray, meditate, or practice mindfulness.
Other ways many people find enjoyment are by reading books, taking baths, lying in a darkened room with a scented candle. Ideally, you’ll want to take several breaks throughout the day for at least 10 minutes each time to let your mind slow down and come back to the present moment.
When you’re in a slump, it can be so tempting just to lounge around all day doing nothing. However, when you do this day after day, it actually increases your negative energy. Make sure to create a proper work/rest balance. Stay active, whether it be with the housework, learning how to cook new meals, getting outside and admiring nature, or going for a drive in the country.
You may also want to make time to stay mentally active as well. When you focus on something pleasurable or challenging, your mind doesn’t have time to dwell on negativity. Some people like crossword puzzles and word games.
Quality Time with Friends and Family
People really do need other people. Socializing is important for your mental well-being. When making human connections, chemicals are released in the brain that allow you to feel better.
Make sure you’re spending quality time with those who are close to you. Learn more about each other. Find ways to be a better friend. Learn a new skill together. Sure, sitting back and watching TV can be a nice break from the day, but make sure you actually engage with others in your life to create more meaningful relationships that will improve your mental wellness and theirs.
Everyone has hard days. When these lead into weeks or even months, it takes a toll on the mind and the body. Continued stress can wreak havoc on the body, but it can also lead to anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
The best way to manage the effects of stress on your mind and body is to learn stress management techniques.
Many tried and true methods for managing stress also overlap with this list of ways to improve your mental wellness. However, if you’re having trouble finding something that works for you or you’re too overwhelmed to even start, a counselor or therapist can help you to find ways to begin.
You know that physical activity is good for your body, but it’s also an important aspect of maintaining good mental wellness. Physical activity increases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Ask any serious jogger about what’s known as “jogger’s high.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC, you’ll experience immediate mental health benefits following moderate to vigorous activity, such as a reduction in short-term anxiety.
One way to “marry” your physical activity with mindfulness and meditation is to practice yoga. Some benefits of yoga include:
- Decreases stress and supports stress management
- Improves Mood
- Anxiety Relief
- Reduces Fatigue
- Increases Sleep Quality
- Improves Flexibility and Balance
- Increases Strength
When you engage in regular exercise, your body is healthier as well, allowing your mind to relax and not worry so much about your overall health.
Although you are what you eat is an old saying, it still holds true today. Researchers are finding that many artificial ingredients in processed foods contribute to mental issues such as anxiety and depression.
Inflammation negatively impacts the mind and the body, so include lots of fresh vegetables and fruit in your diet. The antioxidants can help fight inflammation and improve your overall well-being.
Certain vitamins and minerals naturally increase the feel-good chemicals in your brain, so be sure to include highly nutrient-rich foods. Unfortunately, many people struggle with proper nutrition. You must find a balance between healthy options, time constraints, accessibility, and even the desire to eat well.
Be sure to get enough sleep every night. This is when your brain and your body heal and process information. Find ways to improve your sleep, and you’re sure to notice a positive impact on your mental wellness.
Improving Mental Wellness
Your overall mental wellness is crucial to living a full and productive life. During mental wellness month it is a good time to refocus on your health. However, if you are actively living with a substance use disorder, other addiction, or disorder – simply improving your overall mental wellness is not enough. You must seek treatment.
At Integrative Life Center, we take a holistic treatment approach. This means that we take into account the whole person. Our treatment plans are made for each individual and include traditional therapies as well as therapies such as mindfulness, yoga, nutrition, and music therapy. We believe in integrating mind, body, and spirit in the approach to recovery.