29 Mar MENTAL HEALTH & WELLNESS
Mental health includes one’s emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how one thinks, feels, and acts and therefore determines how one deals with stress; interacts with and builds relationships with others; sets goals; makes decisions; and generally enjoys life.
Mental health is influenced by several biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors which include:
- Structural factors – such as a safe living environment, education, and employment opportunities, being free from discrimination and violence, and having access to economic resources.
- Community factors – such as having a positive sense of belonging, community connectedness, involvement in activities that highlight and embrace diversity, social support, and being an active member of society.
- Individual factors – such as the ability to manage one’s thoughts and cope with stressors, developing one’s communication and social skills to support connection with others.
Why is emotional health important?
Emotional and mental health and wellbeing is important because has a direct impact on one’s thoughts, behaviours, mood and emotions. Good mental health promotes productivity and effectiveness in one’s daily activities and life. It also plays an important part in the health of your relationships and determines how you to cope with stress and adversity, as well as adapt to changes in your life.
According to the NHS, there 5 steps that one can take to improve one’s mental health and wellbeing. These are:
- Connect with Others:
Building positive relationships with others is important for your mental wellbeing as they create a sense of belonging and self-worth, give you an opportunity to enjoy and share positive experiences with others, and allow you to offer support to others as well as receive emotional support in return when needed.
- Physical Activity and Balanced Diet:
Staying active is not only good for your physical health and fitness but evidence shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by increasing your self-esteem, encouraging you to set personal goals and achieve them, as well as causing chemical changes in the brain (though the release of endorphins) which may help to positively change your mood.
The food you eat can also have a long-lasting effect on your mental health. The brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs of the body. A balanced diet that is good for your physical health will also be good for your mental health. Eat nutritious meals, drink enough water, limit your intake of high-caffeine and/or sugary drinks, and avoiding consuming too much alcohol.
- Learn New Skills:
Learning a new skill can boost self-confidence and raise self-esteem, create a new sense of purpose, and help you to meet and connect with others.
- Giving to Others:
Giving to and showing kindness to others can help improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings about yourself, giving you a sense of reward, a feeling of purpose and self-worth.
- Paying attention to the present moment (mindfulness):
Paying more attention to the present moment can improve your mental wellbeing. This includes being conscious of your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.
This awareness is called “mindfulness”. Mindfulness can help you enjoy life more fully and understand yourself better. Practicing mindfulness can help you understand and manage strong emotions so that rather than feeling overwhelmed, you are able to approach difficult situations with a sense of calm and clarity.
It is important to remember that mental health is a complex concept and being mentally healthy is more than just the absence of illness but rather a state of overall wellbeing. Ultimately, it is about being cognitively, emotionally, and socially healthy in the way we think, feel and develop relationships.