By Nancie A. Vito, MPH, CHES
Mental health is as important as physical health!
I like to think of mental health as being on a continuum. Just because we don’t feel depressed, for example, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we possess positive mental health. The goal is to flourish and to increase a sense of overall well-being.
Mental health has a major effect on our physical health. There is no doubt that there are mind-body connections, and it has become apparent that the two are closely interwoven.
Poor mental health is a major cause of number of days out from work, poor productivity and concentration, and increased illness, just to name a few. Stress and poor mental health can impair the body’s immune system and decrease the ability to heal. With repeated and chronic stressors, we’re more likely to develop illnesses and have a longer healing time. In fact, a huge portion of physical illness results from stress, poor mental health or deep-seeded feelings that have been “pushed down,” or not been dealt with or healed. For example, when we hold feelings in, they may manifest as an illness down the road.
In 2003, the World Health Organization predicted that the “burden of disease” from poor mental health is expected to increase significantly over the next 20 years. I’m not sure if this is because of our culture’s fact-paced lifestyle, eating processed and chemical-filled foods, or because our culture waits to have fun.
In general though, I do believe that the lifestyle in our culture is one that can cause stress and to be less and less present if we're not mindful. Due to increased concepts of “do more with less” at work, people put in long hours and often place work before what’s truly important to them.
As always, I’d like to share some actionable steps:
1. If you feel chronically stressed, I highly encourage you to explore the root cause of your stress so that you can take steps to address it. That way you don’t only cope / manage, but also prevent and reduce stress.
2. Implement healthy coping mechanisms to enhance overall well-being (examples: meditation, prayer, taking breaks, deep breathing, yoga, juicing, making time for fun, and taking YOU time, eat and drink healthily, talk to a friend, journal to name a few).
3. Create and maintain a healthy mindset. Focus on health and wellness, rather than “not getting sick.” And if you do become physically ill, be mindful of where you’re placing your energy. Take care of yourself. Constantly posting about not feeling well on Facebook places so much energy on it. You can reach out and focus on healing and not on what you don't want.
4. Ask for help as you are not alone. If you feel that you could use some help in the mental health area, reach out! Talk with a friend. Join a group. And should you feel depressed (feeling down more often than not and/or having loss of interest in things you normally enjoy), reach out to a professional, as they are there to help and serve you. (Professional include doctors, therapists, counselors, ministers, healers and holistic practitioners, etc.)
We need to keep in mind that mental health is just as important as physical health and not sweep it under the rug.
Since my coaching focuses on positive mental health, I’d love to provide a free consult should you feel stressed, overwhelmed, out of alignment with your true purpose, or your balance is out of whack. :) All you have to do is click here to book your slot for your free call.
As always, please share your comments and insights below. Specifically, what steps will you take towards positive mental health?