Understanding Mental Health

Mental health refers to your social, emotional, and psychological well-being.  While your mental health can be impacted by certain things you cannot control (e.g., family history, life experiences, genes, brain chemistry), you can control how well you look after your mental health. 

“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” 

Glenn Close

Taking care of your mental health is important for may reasons.

  • Your mental health affects how you feel day to day. If you are feeling sad, angry, or anxious, it’s hard to focus on your job, let alone enjoy your life.  Regular tasks can become a struggle.
  • Mental health affects your relationships.  When someone is close to you they care how you feel.  If you are feeling anger, anxiety or stress, maintaining a relationship may be difficult.
  • Mental health affects your success.  Whether it is success at your job or achieving a goal, you are more likely to succeed when you’re in a good place mentally.  When you are happy and healthy, you accomplish more.
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Ways that you can take care of your mental health.

  1. Get enough sleep:  The amount of sleep you get impacts your mood. Try and get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  2. Exercise:  Your body releases mood-improving chemicals when you exercise.  Look for ways to integrate physical activity into your daily routine.
  3. Talk to someone:  Expressing your feelings is a great way to process them.  Talk to a friend or family member when you have a problem or feel depressed.
  4. Be grateful:  Notice the things you are thankful for in your life.  Regularly reflect on and feel grateful for each of these things.  
  5. Help someone else:  Helping others has been shown to reduce stress and improve mental health.  It also makes you feel good.
  6. Be mindful:  Mindfulness is being aware of the world around you and focusing on what you are experiencing.  Throughout your day, remind yourself to be fully present and to focus on the “now.”
  7. Eat healthy:  Food fuels your whole body’s health, including your brain.  Research shows that nutrients found in health foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables, can improve your brain function.
  8. Deal with stress:  Stress can really take a toll on your mental health.  To feel more empowered and less overwhelmed, make a list of the things that stress you and and come up with a plan for dealing with them.
  9. Reflect:  Put the phone away, turn off the TV, and take some time every day to rest, relax, and reflect.  You might also try writing your thoughts in a journal.  
  10. Reach out for help:  Just like with physical health, we sometimes need the help of a professional to be at our best.  If you need help, reach out to a therapist or ask your doctor for a recommendation. 
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“If we start being honest about our pain, our anger, and our shortcomings instead of pretending they don’t exist, then maybe we’ll leave the world a better place than we found it.”

Russell Wilson

You take care of your physical health by eating healthy, exercising, and going to the doctor if you are sick.  you do not pretend you are not sick and assume it will go away.  Treat your mental health the same way.  Needing help is not a sign of weakness. Pay attention to your mental health, and if you’re having difficulties, get help.

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