The Importance of Mental Wellness

Mental wellness, just like physical wellness, is a critical part of our well-being. The World Health Organization 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.” Similarly, a widely-used three-part model looks at mental well-being through the lenses of emotional well-being, social well-being, and psychological well-being. Studies show that having strong mental wellness can extend beyond simply feeling better. Good mental health can aid in recovery from physical illness, ease aches and pains, and even impact heart health and boost the immune system. 

Despite its importance, mental wellness is a relatively recent concept in relation to overall health. In fact, the focused study of mental health only dates back to 1946. However, we now know that addressing and developing mental health is quite similar to how we view our physical health; it requires time, practice, and exercise. Exercises that workout our minds include 4 things: 

  • Mindfulness teaches us to be consciously present and aware. The results of mindfulness include better regulating emotions, and shedding the negative emotions that come with situations we can’t control. 
  • Focusing on positive surroundings instead of negative is the second aspect. Sometimes, we surround ourselves with negativity, from stories in the news, to sad music, to other media such as crime dramas and horror films. These things can become so normalized that people often don’t realize they’re the cause of their negative emotional state. 
  • Practicing self-compassion is another crucial element to exercising better mental health. We can often be our own harshest critics and worst enemies. Sometimes, our inner critic is so harsh that we convince ourselves that we don’t deserve self-compassion. 
  • The final component to addressing mental health lies in the external: loving others. Showing love and compassion to others actually releases brain chemicals that cause what’s known as a ‘Helper’s High’. Helping others from a place of love positively impacts both mental and physical health. It has been shown to lower stress and blood pressure, and cause relief from physical pain and depression. Moreover, these things have been shown to increase overall quality of life, and lifespan. 

The message is clear: mental wellness is just as important as physical health. Good mental health can have a positive impact not only on a person’s life, but on the lives of those around them. It’s crucial to overall health to not only be cognizant of your mental wellness, but also to take steps to exercise those muscles and build our mental strength. 

Posted on January 6 2020 in Blog

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