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Mental Wellness Explored

What is Mental Wellness exactly?

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." (American Mental Wellness Association)

Mental health can include emotional, psychological, and social well-being. In reference to our purposes though, mental wellness is specifically the cognitive wellness of a person. Mental wellness is often confused with emotional wellness because of the stigma of mental illness. They are easily confused because they are all intertwined - mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellness.

An easy way to differentiate between mental and emotional wellness is to remember that mental = thoughts and emotional = feelings. Both thoughts and feelings affect behavior, but your mental health determines the thoughts that lead to the feelings that lead to behaviors (or vice versa).

How can I Tell if my Mental Wellness is Suffering?

The following are signs of declining mental wellness:

  1. Negative self talk/intrusive thoughts

  2. Noticeable changes in personality

  3. Flighty thoughts/trouble concentrating

  4. Trouble remembering things

  5. Increased unhealthy behaviors/habits

How can I Improve My Mental Wellness?

Always put your mask on before helping others.

The following are changes that could help to improve mental wellness:

  • Checking in - Checking in with your mental status frequently is the first step to identifying decline and improving mental wellness.

  • Talking to someone - Having a verbal outlet is very important to maintaining mental wellness. Often, just having a friend or family member to talk to can greatly improve mental wellness. Although, in the case that mental wellness is severely declined, it is important to talk to a professional counselor or therapist.

  • Cognitive Stimulation - Challenging yourself cognitively keeps your mind and memory sharp. Doing puzzles, playing mathematics games, and participating in problem solving activities are all great ways to stay cognitively stimulated.

  • Physical Exercise - Physical exercise (as we have gone over in other posts) releases endorphins which keep our brains healthy and improve mood. Regular exercise is an important step toward mental wellness.

  • Team Building Activities - Team building activities and sports have always been used to increase social wellness and physical ability. Studies have recently showed that these activities (specifically sports) are also very important to and necessary for mental health (read about it here).

  • Saying No when No is the answer - Have you ever found yourself in a situation that is completely overwhelming with seemingly no notice? It's common to want to say "yes" to whatever comes your way. This is especially true for people who work in nurturing and help-based careers. To stay mentally well and, in turn, be able to help others, we have to know when "no" is the answer. Always put your mask on before helping others.

  • Emotional Checks and Balances - Along with checking in on your mental status by reality checking your thoughts, it is important to check in on your emotional status as well. To do this, assess whatever emotion you are feeling, balance the emotion against reality, and then correct your thought process to reflect reality.

So that's a lot of information. Of course you likely won't remember all of it, but if you do remember one thing, remember this:

Mental wellness starts with a thought and ends with life-long habits. You must break a negative cycle to find wellness.

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