Starting the conversation about mental wellness does not mean that we have to dive into the topic of mental health and mental illness and before moving forward yes there is a difference although people often use these terms synonymously with each other. If we are going to be proactive in taking care of our mental health let’s start the conversation by discussing how do we maintain mental wellness. Every individual can suffer from a mental illness as there are different contributing factors that we will discuss in weeks to come.
However, the majority of us are maintaining our mental wellness on a daily basis. As such, let us start the conversation there. How do I as an individual maintain or improve my mental well-being?
Firstly, what is mental wellness? Mental wellness is an internal drive that navigates how we think, feel, connect, function as it relates to the daily activities and stressors that may come our way. It is the ability to evolve in different situations as it relates to mental, social, emotional and psychological wellbeing.
Knowing how to react in a manner that will not damage self or others shows that the individual is mentally well and is able to navigate life in a resilient manner. People on a daily basis are able to engage with ‘life’ and renew positive and necessary internal resources that helps the individual to function. As it relates to mental well-being you are able to navigate the challenges of life without letting it derail your ability to function.
People often associate mental wellness with being able to engage in activities such as meditating, going on vacation, getting a massage, taking a bubble bath etc. However, for many individuals maintaining mental wellness will have to be tailored to suit. As we would have an outfit built to fit us, let us start developing techniques to maintain our mental wellness that suit us as an individual.
How do I maintain or improve my mental wellness? Giving persons a list of things that can be used to maintain your mental wellness can be exhaustive, however the aim here is to get you to introspect on how you are currently maintaining your mental wellness and get you to maintain or improve what you are currently doing.
Thus, where do we start? Start by asking yourself, what has worked for me in the past as it relates to helping me relax? Does this still work or does it need improvement? Do I need to remove negative coping mechanisms from my life, such as, am I engaging in unhealthy sexual behavior, or am I consuming a large amount of alcohol and marijuana as a way to cope with the stressors of life?
Do I have a positive support system or does the support system I currently have bring me a lot of distress and angst? Am I reaching my full potential in life?
Is there something additional I would like to do with myself and are there plans that I can make to help me get there? Also, something very important that we often forget, how do I deal with stressful situations and negative emotions? Do I blow up at the first sign of distress, do I take my time to work through the stressor or do I give myself an opportunity to walk away and clear my head so that I do not react prematurely in anger? This is because the way you react to a situation can largely determine the outcome of the situation and the level of distress that you as the individual receives from it.
Although I don’t want to provide a list here are some things to consider: does exercise help to keep a level head, does watching my favorite show help me to destress after a long day, does listening to my kids renew why I am on this present journey, does cooking ignite a passion that I have? There are going to be small things that get us through unbearable situations, and as such, ask yourself what is my small thing, how do I incorporate it and how do I keep myself adjusting to an ever changing environment?
Knowing how to properly navigate your life can largely determine if you are able to maintain mental wellness. Similarly, having a bad day does not equate to you struggling mentally, sometimes it is just that – a bad day, and we all experience it.