When we talk about mental health, most of the conversation centers on disease and disorders and raising awareness about these conditions. But there is another side to mental health, one that is often neglected in our discussions and in the media – mental health wellness. The goal of Mental Health Wellness Week is to make sure wellness is part of the conversation.
We get checkups at the doctor and keep up to date with our vaccinations in an effort to maintain our physical health, but the majority of us only begin looking after our mental health once something goes wrong. When you consider that our mental health affects everything in our lives from what we can achieve to our relationships with those we love, it seems strange that we don’t put more focus on preventative care. The state of our mental health influences how we see ourselves, how we see others, how we cope with challenging situations, and how well we manage the stress in our lives.
Mental Health Wellness Week was started by national non-profit mental health advocacy organization, Freedom from Fear, 30 years ago. The goals of this awareness campaign are:
- To increase the public understanding of mental health wellness
- To promote a better understanding of the mind/body connection
- To raise awareness about evidence based approaches for improving and maintaining mental health wellness
- To provide a resource for people to find mental health wellness support resources in their community
- To spread awareness about the kind of coping skills that help improve and maintain mental health wellness
When people have good mental health wellness, they are better able to handle stressful situations and to overcome challenges. Those with good mental health wellness display some common traits. They are well-equipped to bounce back from adversity. They excel at effectively communicating about their feelings and at building and maintaining strong interpersonal relationships. They are able to set and achieve goals and know when to seek help from others. They have an appreciation for themselves and know how to fully enjoy their lives.
There are several ways to develop the skills and habits needed to improve and maintain your mental health wellness.
- Learn to manage stress through techniques like yoga, relaxation, and breathing exercises
- Develop a mindfulness practice and adopt a mindful approach to life
- Being physically active
- Adopting lifestyle behaviors that support mental health wellness like journaling and meditation
- Building a strong support network
- Setting realistic, achievable goals
The key to improving your mental health wellness is learning to manage your stress which is why it is so important to develop good coping mechanisms. You can improve these coping skills by focusing on relaxing, meditating, and taking time to take care of yourself. Being physically active, eating right, getting enough sleep, and spending time with friends and loved ones also help build your resilience. Using humor, participating in hobbies you like, taking care of pets, and attending to your spirituality will also improve your overall mental health wellness.