How to Improve your Mental Wellbeing
Mental health and wellbeing include having mental wellness and happiness, whilst living in a flourishing environment. Good mental health and wellbeing can increase general health, wellbeing and resilience. People who are diagnosed with mental illness can still experience positive mental health and wellbeing throughout the majority of their lives by including positive health factors such as exercise, community and diet and nutrition as part of their lives.
So, what does mental wellbeing actually mean? The world Health organisation defines it as:
"Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community."
To support this definition the WHO have created a supporting article on mental health identifying exactly who and which mental health factors affect people globally. A booklet on How to improve mental wellbeing has also been produced by MIND which identifies good mental health as your behaviour towards what happens to you – in essence how you react to situations and what you do about them. It goes on to say that good mental health is when:
"You care about yourself and you care for yourself. You love yourself, not hate yourself. You look after your physical health – eat well, sleep well, exercise and enjoy yourself.
You see yourself as being a valuable person in your own right. You don't have to earn the right to exist. You exist, so you have the right to exist.
You judge yourself on reasonable standards. You don't set yourself impossible goals, such as 'I have to be perfect in everything I do', and then punish yourself when you don't reach those goals."
Whilst it’s not possible to exist in the environment as described above on a permanent basis we can all work towards it.
As with Autism mental health exists on a spectrum, we all will experience at some point in our lives a mental illness. Whether it be through bullying at school or work or through a relationship breakdown or through bereavement etc. Currently one in twenty five people have a mental illness, it's part of the human condition.
There are four components of mental health and wellbeing, each of these is made up of its own elements. Mental health and wellbeing involve many different concepts, however, the four main components of mental wellbeing are:
· A healthy sense of self
· Psychological flexibility
· Daily maintenance
A Healthy Sense of Self
Someone with a healthy sense of the self knows that they are separate from the problems and challenges that they face. They accept and understand that life is fluid and they are not their problems. Problems are temporary and as such workable solutions can be found. Depression and anxiety caused by problems are temporary and are not permanent or persistent in nature and definitely are not part of you.
A person with a strong, positive sense of themselves are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and uses them with confidence. Confident people also understand that they are not perfect, perfection is impossible and as long as they achieve their best anything else is a learning curve. Weakness is also who we are as humans, we all have weaknesses and we should work to improve on them until we have achieved an ability that makes us happy. Remember, perfection is not a desirable level to aim for as none of us are perfect.
Another component of the sense of the self is feeling part of something greater than us. Whether its part of a church community, an exercise community, a family community or at work mental wellbeing involves other people. Us humans thrive on connection and whilst you can get some comfort and companionship from animals, we do need each other to flourish. This is why an imbalance in the workplace whether it victimisation, isolation or bullying can lead to an isolated case of mental unwellness. Gratitude is one way to assess how you are feeling and to identify why you are grateful for the things that you have. Keep a gratitude journal as a way of keeping track of your feelings and emotions.
Compassion for yourself and others will lead to a greater sense of health and wellbeing. People who are compassionate understand themselves as worthy human beings, and they extend this empathy to others.
Everything in life is about perspective. Two people can see the same incident or experience the very same life factors but have very different perspectives on what happened.
The ability to develop and apply a healthy perspective on life is a very important component of mental wellbeing. Psychologist Albert Ellis, founder of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and contributor to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), stated that problems are just things or people or situations that exist and the true problems lie in the way we interpret them. As we all interpret things differently no two people will ever experience the same happenings the same way.
Peoplw with a high degree of mental wellbeing feel and express gratitude for the good in life despite the bad things that have happened.
They will remain rational when faced with difficult situations rather than acting negatively on the negative aspects of the event.
They will reframe any challenges that occur by looking at them in new and improved ways or they will redefine the meaning of the events.
Positive people with a healthy outlook on life will seek out positive lifestyle factors to enhance their lives and stay away from negative aspects of life.
The ability to be flexible is very underestimated these days. As a planner I feel very insecure when I’m forced into a situation where I’m not feeling in control. When people are rigid in their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, problems tend to seem bigger than they are and are far more frequent than for those who are more flexible.
Mental wellbeing grows when people monitor their situations and lifestyles and adjust accordingly by checking to see what does and doesn’t work. In making the necessary changes they can readjust their lifes to sync with their expectations.
When faced with unwanted change, psychological flexibility helps people to be more adaptable to change than those who are unwilling to be flexible.
Coping strategies are very useful for maintaining a healthy mental wellness. You can check out The mighty Health blog on coping skills and or you can read up on how to cultivate mental health and wellbeing.
A few of the most common but effective coping strategies include:
Creation of fun, enjoyment and entertainment events
Creating social support networks
Develop emotional awareness
Accept and letting go of what can’t be changed, don’t focus on the past
Taking action every day to achieve your desired lifestyle
Mental wellbeing is what allows us to create our best quality life. In writing down your main life objectives and in creating a workable plan to achieve them you will be on track to creating the lifestyle and direction you hope to gain and move in.
What’s strange, is that we take good care of things such as our houses, our cars and our smaller possessions but we take very little care of thing one thing that really matters, ourselves. Don’t wait until tomorrow, or for new year to make the changes, act today and get your life back on track.
For more on wellness, nutrition and fitness you may like:
Health and Wellbeing