Mental Health – Meaning, Why It’s Important & How To Improve It

By Reniel

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Last Updated: May 29, 2021

A lot of stigmas have been associated with the word “mental-health”. A lot of people associate mental health with mental illness. But this is not accurate nor true.  

Thankfully, a lot of movements have been initiated to sensitize people about the issue. A lot of public figures (like Angelina Jolie, and J.K. Rowling) have also come up to share their stories, and have contributed to causes that are aimed at helping others who struggle across the globe.

To be clear, mental health refers to a person’s ability to function properly in society despite the stress and pressure that comes with day to day life. That is to say, a mentally healthy person should be able to contribute positively to society and be happy about it.   

Mental health encompasses our psychological, social, and emotional well-being. Mental health is more than the absence of mental disabilities or disorders. In fact, mental disorders or illnesses arise when people ignore or fail to take care of their mental health.   

Taking care of your mental health is very important – no matter your age, gender, race, income level, or geographical location. This is because poor mental health care can lead to mental illness and even breakdown, which then negatively affect your thinking, behavior, and even physical health.   

For example, depression alone can lead to insomnia, trouble with memory or decision making, risk of heart attack, constriction of blood vessels, fatigue, reduction in sexual drive, and a general weakening of the immune system.  

As you can see, it is no joke. The way you feel isn’t something to be neglected. In fact, the way you feel (i.e. your mental health) oftentimes is more important than what is happening around you.  

For example, being joyful helps keep your immune system strong, controls weight gain, lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, mitigates the risk of frailty and stroke, and even revitalizes your brain.

But the path to a healthy state of mind isn’t a straightforward one. In reality, a lot of factors affect your mental health – so much so that it cannot be listed. However, they can all be grouped into:

4 Factors That Affects Your Mental Health

  •       Life experiences – such as trauma, betrayal, or abuse
  •       Biological factors – such as your brain chemistry, and genes
  •       Hereditary factors – such as a history of mental health problems in the family, and
  •       Your Lifestyle – such as diet, medications, physical activities, substance use, and so on…

Sadly, there is no “medication” that cures mental health issues. However, you can practice self-care – which has proven to be very effective.   

Self-care isn’t really complicated. It simply means you need to do the underlisted:

21 Ways To Improve Your Mental Health Through Self-Care

  •       Value yourself: Love who you are and how you are.
  •       Take care of your body: Exercise regularly.
  •       Meditate: Clear your mind of worries and thoughts at least once daily – simply enjoy the peace, and let go of the desire to change things.
  •       Get a pet: Getting a pet can be a great source of companionship. Aside from being fun to be with, pets can also be a source of unconditional love.
  •       Set realistic goals: It is unhealthy to expect too much from yourself. All you have to do is your best – and accept that that is enough. Know that it is okay to fail sometimes.
  •       Learn how to deal with stress: When stressed, you should learn to take a break, and unwind.
  •       Break up the monotony: There is nothing that drives one crazy as much as doing one thing repeatedly. Find a way to switch up your tasks, or change the tasks entirely.
  •       Avoid alcohol and other drugs: These are poor coping mechanisms and do more harm than good – as they serve as only distractions to your real problems and even worsen your overall health.
  •       Eat well: A healthy diet goes a long way in supplying you with energy and vitality.
  •       Drink water: Avoid getting dehydrated as it can worsen your stress.
  •       Sleep well: Sleep is crucial for the body and mind as it helps you recharge.
  •       Take a break: When exhausted, take a pause.
  •       Have fun: Do something that lights you up and brings out the inner child in you.
  •       Laugh: Laughter is called the best medicine for a reason – it floods your brain with the feel-good hormone, which then eradicates stress from your body.
  •       Disconnect from the news: Mitigate your consumption of news as they often harp on the crisis and most extreme things that happened – which oftentimes ruins your mood. Besides, there is nothing you can do about the bad news either.
  •       Practice forgiveness: Don’t be too hard and be gentle with yourself. Forgive yourself and the shortcomings of others.
  •       Practice gratitude: Gratitude works wonders. It makes you feel better and joyful as you begin to notice all the wonderful things and people around you.
  •       Improve relationships: Keep in touch and visit loved ones whenever you can.
  •       Seek sunshine: Try to get at least 15 minutes of sunshine daily
  •       Talk about your feelings: Bottling up our feelings is unhealthy. Find someone who you trust and who listens, and tell them how you’re feeling.
  •       Get help when you need it: If you feel overwhelmed, and lost, do not hesitate to reach out to a professional.

They say, “a healthy head is a healthy body”. Ensure to protect and care for your mental health. 

P.S: You’re special.

 

Photo by Erica Magugliani on Unsplash

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4 comments on “Mental Health – Meaning, Why It’s Important & How To Improve It”

  1. Very important to laugh even if you don't feel like it just laugh and laugh then you will be relaxed remember to laugh no matter what happens
    I hope when I laugh people won't say I am crazy nor I am laughing about them
    I just want to release my stress

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