Mental health is just as important as physical health. Eating right, wearing sunscreen, and getting regular exercise are all important, but when it comes to mental health, a common view is that mental health is simply not having symptoms of mental illness. In fact, it's much more than that. Mental health and mental illness are increasingly used as if they mean the same thing, but they do not. Heretohelp defines mental illness as, "an illness that affects that way people think, feel, behave, or interact with others."
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) defines mental health as "feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life and in your thinking, and responding constructively to life's ups and downs". Many factors we don't think about such as exercise and sleep can affect our mood and stress levels, both of which can impact our overall mental health. Having a mental illness does not mean you have poor mental health, in fact someone can have a mental illness and maintain good mental health.
Good mental health goes hand in hand with healthy bodies. Exercise helps relieve muscle tension and increase blood flow, which in turn helps wake you up, and keep you alert and focused. Regular and consistent exercise has also been shown to improve mood, as well as aid in alleviating depression and anxiety. Consider incorporating a quick cardio routine into your day. Set aside fifteen to twenty minutes for a simple exercise set: 15-Minutes Cardio Workout, 10-Minute Cardio for Beginners.
Eating healthy and regular meals also keeps your mood and energy levels stable throughout the day. Have you ever felt hangry? If yes, then you know exactly how hunger directly affects your energy levels and mood. Have healthy snacks stocked for whenever you start to feel hungry. It can be as simple as a handful of nuts, apple slices with peanut butter, or some cut fruit. Check out these links for more healthy snack ideas: Quick and Easy Healthy Snacks, 49 Tasty and Healthy Snacks, 16 Healthy Snack Ideas.
Practice healthy thinking. It's not possible to think positive thoughts all the time, every day. What you can do instead is try healthy thinking. CMHA defines healthy thinking as thinking about things in a balanced way, "looking at a situation or problem for what it really is. It means looking at all factors in a situation and then deciding how you feel about it". Consider both the positive and negative aspects of a situation; What are the good and bad? How do you feel about it? Why does it make you feel the way you do? Rather than immediately focusing on the negatives of a situation, take time to reflect on how and why something is causing you to feel the way you do.
One way to avoid dwelling on the lousy things in life is to start a gratitude journal. No matter how long or painful your day may have been, take a few minutes to reflect. It could be as simple as, "I'm grateful that the buses were running on time today." It allows us to spend just a little more time with the good things in our life.
A gratitude journal also forces you to focus on what you are grateful for in this moment of time. This switch in mindset from future happiness to current happiness can help you to live a more present life. Being grateful for where you are, and what you already have keeps your mindset on the positive things in your life.
To maintain positive mental health, you need to take positive action. Whether it be exercise, healthy eating, or just making sure you get enough sleep, there are many great resources out there to help you.
BC Partners For Mental Health and Addictions Information - www.heretohelp.bc.ca
For information on positive mental health.
Crisis Services Canada - https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/looking-for-local-resources-support/
A resource for existing distress, crisis, and suicide prevention services across Canada.
Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division - http://www.cmha.bc.ca/
For information and community resources on mental health.
HealthLink BC - http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/
Call 811 or visit the weblink to access free, non-emergency health information for anyone in your family, including mental health information.
GOeBlogger is a health enthusiast and avid reader living and thriving in vibrant Vancouver. When she's not nerding out at her laptop, you can find her exploring the beautiful BC coastline with her dog.
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