You take a tablet when you have a fever, you soothe a strained throat with warm soup and when you pull a muscle you apply a hot water bag – there are plenty of instances where you take care of your body. What’s not given so much attention is your mental health. Taking care of your body is only half the race won for a healthy lifestyle. Your mind, spirit, and soul matter too.
Let’s get the ball rolling by answering two important questions – what is mental health? And what are mental health benefits? Firstly mental health is a combination of our emotional, social, and psychological welfare. That’s a pretty heavy sentence (and rightfully so). Our decisions, thoughts, and feelings are a direct result of our mental health. This is one sense, answers the second question, taking care of your mental health allows you to realize your full potential, can help you cope with an increasingly stressful world, and can help you build a stable support system of family, friends, and loved ones. (Oh! Is that all?)
So why don’t we address mental health? If it is the bedrock of our life, what’s stopping us from taking care of that bedrock? What stops us from making healthy life choices? One simple word: stigma. There are a lot of prejudices and misconceptions surrounding mental health. We’re told to “get over it”, that it’s a “phase” or that we’re being “crazy”. This, in turn, causes us to internalize that stigma – we push down the anxiety, strangle the stress, and repress the sadness. You wouldn’t treat a broken bone that way, right? So what is the equivalent of a mental health cast? What are some things you can do for a healthy mind and soul?
The first step to treating any mental health issue is, believe it or not, kindness. (You were expecting a barrage of healthy lifestyle tips right? Not yet.) The world can be a stressful place. You have responsibilities, duties and societal pressure, peer pressure, and 100 other stress points. So to start, be kind to yourself. Acknowledge the stress or sadness without casting blame or heaping on the shame.
Then can you start to treat your mental health?
But how to treat an illness you can’t see? That doesn’t seem to do any tangible damage? It can become frustrating when you can’t pinpoint the source of your anxiety. Or it can be scary to acknowledge the sadness. It can all seem hopeless.
But it’s not.
If mental health problems can’t be spotted with the naked eye – some mental health benefits can. For instance, studies have proven that there is a strong connection between your mind and body. Working on your mental health problems can lead to a greater increase in productivity, less fatigue, more productivity, and in some cases longer life expectancy.
So, when you create a strong plan for a healthy life and fitness, you need to make room to care for your mental health. Once you start, you’ll realize that there are many effective treatments out there – therapy, medication, and healthy lifestyle habits that can keep your mind as strong as your body.