Understanding the Impacts of Mental Health
Although there is an increasing awareness of maintaining good mental health, there remains a vast gap between how physical and mental health conditions are viewed. With most physical health conditions being ‘visible,’ it is easy for others to make allowances and adjustments compared to mental illnesses, which are often ‘hidden’ and often masked.
Physical and psychological well-being can go hand in hand, with mental health being crucial for leading a happy, fulfilling life. With an estimated 1-in-5 people in the US estimated to live with a mental health condition, here’s why it is so important. (1)
The Importance of Good Mental Health
Mental health impacts every facet of our everyday lives. If we’re experiencing good mental, psychological and emotional well-being, we will likely view the world more positively and react more resiliently to life’s challenges. In addition, maintaining good mental health feeds into good physiological health by making it easier to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet and manage stress, which can lead to severe physical conditions such as heart disease.
Good Interpersonal Relationships
Mental illness can severely impact interpersonal relationships with those closest to us, from friends and family to work colleagues. Signs of poor mental health include hostility, withdrawing socially and passive-aggressive behavior, resulting in conflict building with friends and family.
In extreme circumstances, individuals experiencing poor mental health can overthrow our loved ones without warning or intention, potentially driving a wedge between us and those we rely on most. Maintaining strong mental well-being allows us to make rational decisions and maintain essential relationships with those we rely on most.
Better Physical Health
Poor psychological health often induces stress, which can affect the efficiency and strength of our immune system. When the body is anxious, fighting bugs and illnesses can be more challenging, often feeling unwell or under the weather.
In addition, those suffering from poor mental health often struggle to motivate themselves to exercise and stay active. This can increase stress, weight gain and other negative self-esteem issues.
Those experiencing positive mental health find it much easier to stay physically healthy with a more robust immune system and remain physically fit through regular exercise.
Coping with depression, anxiety or any other mental health condition takes a lot of emotional bandwidth that can be better deployed elsewhere. As a result, productivity levels at work and daily life can suffer.
While some people can find work, they enjoy a welcome distraction from the travails of dealing with a mental health condition; those with more robust mental health find it easier to work more efficiently, producing consistently higher quality work.
It’s no surprise that mental health and self-esteem are inextricably linked. When an individual is experiencing good mental health, they feel more confident and focus on the positive aspects of their character. This ties into more robust, healthier interpersonal relationships, high productivity and physical fitness.
Life is forever throwing curveballs, many of which can be challenging. When mental and emotional states are strong, it is easier for individuals to respond to tough situations with resilience and positivity.
People are less likely to turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol to help cope with stressful situations or turn away from seeking help if financial or relationship difficulties arise.
How to Maintain Good Mental Health
Recognizing the positive benefits of good mental health is essential, but to fully realize the positive impact of mental well-being, knowing how to help yourself have the best chance of reaping these benefits is critical.
Here are some ways to help maintain positive mental well-being:
Regular meditation has been proven to help maintain good mental well-being. Even taking 10 to 15 minutes a day to sit quietly and focus on deep breathing has a remarkable impact on emptying the brain of worries and concerns, enabling improved cognitive functioning.
Healthy Sleep Cycle
Healthy sleep is essential for enjoying the benefits of good mental health. Getting between seven and eight hours of undisturbed sleep ensures clarity of mind and enables the mind and body to work to their maximum potential. Avoiding screens, food and strenuous exercise a couple of hours before bed is an excellent way to help improve your sleep cycle.
Enjoying a healthy, balanced diet helps both body and mind remain fit and healthy. Many foods include naturally occurring supplements such as vitamins, omega-3 oils and other minerals that can help regulate mood, cognition and contribute to positive mental health.
Harvest Personal Relationships
Socializing is an excellent way of boosting serotonin and dopamine, two of the ‘feel-good’ chemicals produced by the brain that positively impact mental and emotional well-being. Serotonin and dopamine are released when individuals enjoy themselves in a social setting, providing the brain with confidence, improved self-esteem and self-worth.
While therapy is an excellent tool to treat many mental health conditions, many people use talking therapies to maintain strong and healthy psychological well-being. Therapy is a tool that helps individuals continually check in and monitor their mental health while developing tools and tactics to deal with challenging situations as they arise.
Maintaining good mental health dramatically impacts an individual’s ability to function. It helps maintain strong social and familial relationships and good physical health, benefits productivity at work and in everyday home life, provides us with a greater sense of self and helps us deal with and overcome challenges that life throws us.
The road to good mental health requires constant presence and getting into positive and healthy routines. Once this is achieved, enjoying the rich benefits of sound mental well-being can give us a vastly improved quality of everyday life.