May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to encourage good mental health and educate ourselves on what that means, celebrate the victories in successfully managing any mental health disorder, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. In this article, we will also discuss what can help lead to good mental health, what to say to yourself in frustrating or tough situations that harm your mental health, and discuss how good mental health is just as important as good physical health.
Mental Health Awareness month has been observed since 1949. While we have come a long way in how mental health is viewed, diagnosed, and supported, we still have a long way to go in fully understanding it and breaking down the stigma attached to it. 1 in 5 adults suffers from some type of mental health issue. So what does it mean to have “good mental health”? According to the World Health Organization, good mental health is “when you are in a state of well-being and can cope with the normal stressors of life and work productively.” Overall, there is a general happiness and satisfaction with how your life is going and you have feelings of joy and peace in your day-to-day experiences. Someone with good mental health is typically optimistic and goal-oriented, with a high self-esteem and ability to cope in most situations and with most stressors.
Below are a few ways we can encourage good mental health not only in ourselves, but for our family and friends as well:
- Make positive connections – staying in touch with our loved ones, speaking with someone who lifts you up, and saying positive words of affirmation to ourselves and others
- Physical activity such as a walk, run, biking – any activity to get your body moving is a great way to release stress
- Find what centers you personally – certain types of music can be stress-relieving, being out in nature can be calming, taking time and space away from the stressors of life can leave a sense of peace
- Getting a good night’s rest – shutting your mind off allows you to wake up feeling refreshed from whatever was causing stress/anxiety the night before
- Talk to someone – get the help you need however that may be. Talking to family or friends, or someone here at Arbor Family Counseling can provide the necessary support to get through a tough time.
How are you encouraging good mental health today? These tips, along with these anxiety-coping statements below, will guide you through difficult moments in your day. Frustrating situations, as well as anxiety-ridden situations, happen in our day-to-day lives. Whether you failed a test at school, got a critical email at work, are nervous about an upcoming meeting, or have to give a very public speech, you can say the following to yourself:
- This is just a feeling, it will pass
- My anxiety does not define me
- I am safe and I am going to be alright
- I can cope with this and am stronger than I think
- My feelings are allowed to be here
- This feeling is a reminder to take a deep breath
- I will stay present and ground myself
- This is a normal human emotion
- Not all thoughts are true of facts
Our overall health is made up of two parts: physical and mental. Having good physical health comes from a balanced diet and exercise and can lead to decreased health concerns, primarily heart-related. It may not be as apparent what having good mental health can lead to other than lower stress levels. But the two parts that make up our overall health go hand-in-hand. According to the CDC, depression can lead to “an increased risk in long-term diabetes, heart disease, and stroke”. In addition, the presence of chronic or on-going medical conditions can lead to an increase in mental illness risks.
It is important to not only understand what it means to have good mental health, but to be able to reach out if anything ever becomes too much to handle on your own. Here at Arbor Family Counseling, we aim to end the stigma associated with mental illnesses and encourage you to reach out. Our counselors here at Arbor are just a phone call away and are happy to offer continued support on your journey to better mental health.