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Making Good Mental Health a Priority

mental health

May is mental health awareness month. The National Alliance for Mental Illness reports that one in five Americans is living with a mental health condition. While some cases are more severe than others, there are many different types of treatment. Some treatment may require that you seek professional assistance from a psychiatrist. Other measures you can take upon yourself to protect your mind and body by combating feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety or stress.

The below are different aspects of mental health and the ideas you can implement to cultivate sound mental health for yourself, family and friends.

  1. Live with Purpose – Evidence is becoming quite clear that when you have purpose in life, you are more likely to be happier, healthier, and in some cases even live longer. Dr. Daniel Amen, an American psychiatrist and brain disorder specialist says that “Every thought we have causes a chemical and electrical reaction in our brains.” If we are focused and clear on the role we play in the world, and particularly what we are wanting in life, our decisions, perspectives and attitudes become more constructive rather than destructive. Nessie Shaw, a clinical therapist with over ten years of experience in mental health clinics states that, “From the literature and my own experience, one of the major symptoms reported by people diagnosed with depression is an inability to experience meaning and purpose.” Purpose can be a powerful way to increase happiness, optimism and hope in your life. So find your purpose, smile, and make the best of each day.
  1. Eat Right – Society is muddied with fad diets, lose-weight quick schemes, and foods that have ingredients that I don’t even know how to pronounce (tert-Butylhydroquinone, for example). Here’s what you need to know about food. Research supports that when we are constantly focusing on dieting or losing weight, we can become afraid of, or develop a negative association with food. This can contribute to the onset of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research states that “A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.” Bottom line is you should feel better after you eat than before you started. So find the right food to help you feel your best so you can live your best. Recommendations for a normal eating regimen can be found at eatright.org.
  1. Move Around – We all hear about the benefits of exercise wherever we go. We know it can help us maintain good physical health by keeping our muscles and bones strong, and help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and type II diabetes, but exercise is also great for mental health. When you exercise, different chemicals and hormones are released that contribute to a positive and happy emotional state. The Mayo Clinic reports that exercise can help ease depression and anxiety, help you gain confidence, cope with adversity in a healthy way, and help rid your mind of worry and stress. So lace up those shoes, grab your yoga mat, pick up some weights, or call a friend to go for a walk. Recommendations for exercise can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/.
  1. Build and Maintain Positive Relationships – People influence our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors, so having positive relationships can contribute towards good mental health. Brooke Feeney, PhD, professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University reports that “Relationships enable us to not only cope with stress or adversity, but also to learn, grow, explore, achieve goals, cultivate new talents and find purpose and meaning in life.” So make a new friend, rekindle an old relationship, or stay in touch with people you enjoy being around. Find people who make you smile, accept you for who you are, challenge you to be better every day, and positively influence your life.

So smile more every single day. Find and live according to your purpose. Make time for and continue to build authentic and positive friendships. Eat right and avoid fad dieting. Move your body whenever and however you can. We only get one life, so let’s use it to achieve optimal happiness, health and total well-being.

Please note that this information is not meant to take the place of advice from your doctor. If you or anyone you know is suffering from a mental health related episode and it poses life, health or safety risk, please immediately call 911. If you or a loved one is having a suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. It is a toll-free, 24-hour and confidential suicide prevention hotline.


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