May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Our speakers on Health and Wellness weigh in to help explain mental health and how to achieve your own path to wellness.
Why Mental Health Matters?
According to Patricia Farrell’s book: How To Be Your Own Therapist, “being mentally healthy means more than living in the absence of a mental disease; it is about maintaining emotional and psychological balance with our daily interactions and decisions. Low levels of mental health and awareness can prevent us from making the most minor decisions and in turn inhibit our relationships, work, and physical health.”
Given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings home, we are all at risk of stress. But failing to assess our ability to make decisions and deal with stress, can alter the way our brains function and cause serious mental and physical health issues. Unaddressed mental health issues can severely impact not only our own lives, but also the lives of our loved ones. Therefore, dealing with mild ailments to mental health are just as important as seeking professional health for more serious mental health issues.
Recognize Warning Signs
Finding balance in our lives and determining specific goals are the first step to achieving mental wellness; however, when chronic stress or the inability to control our emotions and actions prevent us from defining and achieving these goals, more serious forces may be at work. Academy award winning actress Patty Duke knows first hand the effects severe mental disorders can have on daily life. Although Patty gained fame through her Oscar Award winning portrayal of the blind, mute, and deft Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, her personal life was ailed with severe depression, alcoholism, and self-destructive thoughts.
At 35, Patty was diagnosed with manic-depression, more commonly known today as bipolar disorder. Rather than being caused by typical, chronic stresses, bipolar disorder (along with many other serious disorders) is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which causes drastic mood swings, and shifts in energy. Since her diagnosis, Patty has worked to inform the public about the importance of mental health and the severity of mental health disorders. Taking time to honestly assess our own mental health is essential because, as Patty puts it: “The bottom line is: Without treatment [some] diseases just wont go away.”
3 Steps to Improve Mental Health
1) Help you help yourself.
You know your body and mind and only YOU can define what practices are healthy in your life. Take time to recognize which practices in your life are productive and which are counterproductive to your overall mental health and well-being. Define clear goals for yourself and be sure to accurately measure your ability to reach those goals.
2) Don’t focus on what you don’t want; focus on what you DO want!
Co-author of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Jack Canfield attests that there is a “Law of Attraction” within the human psyche. “We are what we think about, and we become what we surround ourselves by.” Jack also claims that, “success in life depends on 3 things: your mind-set, your skill-set, and your environment.” So rather than focusing on how to eliminate the negative influence in our lives, we should be surrounding ourselves with positive influences and focusing on improvement.
3) Recognize signs of more severe illnesses.
When our lifestyle, decisions, or mood, prevents us from preforming everyday tasks, there is no shame in seeking professional advice. In recent years, seeking mental therapy has become somewhat of a trend. As Patricia Farrell, PhD points out in her book, How To Be Your Own Therapist, Mental health is not about what’s trending; “what really matters is how you can create the best life possible, the life you want and deserve.” When healthy lifestyle choices are not enough, seeking medical advice may be the best way to create this life.
Failing to take the time today to care for your own mental health could cause bigger problems in the future. In light of Mental Health Awareness month, be sure to take a moment and assess or adjust where you stand mentally and emotionally.
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