Mental Health, the term is all the rage these days. Everyone is talking about it and for good reason.
Mirriam-Webster has a great definition, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll just use this part of it:
“The general condition of one's mental and emotional state.”
Our mental state is tied to our emotional state. And emotions can be such a touchy subject, although Pixar did a great job of depicting them in the movie Inside Out.
What is your mental state right now?
Stop and take inventory. What demands your attention? Your time? Your energy? How do you feel about it?
Are you content? Disappointed? Angry? Joyful? What is driving these emotions?
Can you control them? Do you stuff them down or let them explode out of you at times?
Sometimes, when I’m listening to music, I cannot help myself, my body starts to move to the music. For me, it’s a good thing, an expression of my mental state, a feeling of joy.
(For others who may somehow catch a glimpse of me “dancing” it likely does not bring joy, although laughter may erupt).
Other times, like in my car when a driver cuts me off or even when they don’t really do something wrong, but I perceive it that way, I may, perhaps, occasionally, YELL!! Another release of emotion!
Bottling of Emotions
Not everyone likes sharing their emotions, especially – and I know I’m stereotyping, but generally – it’s men.
Men tend to bottle things up, or compartmentalize them and tuck them away so they don’t have to deal with them. Especially high achieving, busy professional men.
They consider it a sign of weakness. But left unchecked, emotions not address can lead to mental health issues.
So, what’s the cure?
Well, figuring them out and dealing with them is a great starting point.
Getting professional help in this area is highly recommended. Professionals are professionals for a reason. Who does a better job working on your car? A mechanic or you? If you are a mechanic, disregard that question.
Who is better at taxes, you or your accountant? If you are an accountant, again - disregard. Who does a better job creating and making you stick to your workout sessions, you or your trainer? Be honest here!
The point is, mental health professionals are good at what they do, and in all cases, better at it than you. There used to be a stigma that was associated with Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and therapists; that only crazy people saw them. That is no longer the case. Your mental health is a huge part of your overall health and well-being.
If not quite ready to connect with a mental health professional just yet, there are actually some existing apps with proprietary algorithms that respond to your state of mind and simulate events such as chatting with a therapist, guided meditations, emotion notes, and more. A lot of good can come from such a technology.
What else can you do?
EXERCISE. Why? Exercise makes you feel good because it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin, which make you naturally happy.
Exercise also reduces stress, depression, anxiety and it helps you sleep better which also improves your health.
Another important component that you can do yourself is eat a healthy diet. Balanced nutrition has been linked to improved mental health in a number of studies.
Two of the most important things to consider are eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and cutting sugar out of your diet as much as possible. Medical News Today put out a great article about the link between sugar and the negative effects on mental health.
Mediation and/or yoga is another great way to contribute to your positive mental health. A few years back, I worked with a company and trained their employees during their lunch hour. One employee in particular was veraciously opposed to any type of yoga…until he truly gave it the “old college try.”
Training the mind to allow thoughts to flow past, not letting them have power over you, is one of the greatest things I’ve learned in a yoga class.
Meditation in the Christian sense is a bit different. It means to focus your thoughts specifically on things and more precisely, on The Word. When you are focused on the good things in your life instead of the bad, you gain a whole new perspective.
So, where do we go from here?
We’re all human. We have thoughts and feelings and should be able to share those without judgement. If you need help or know someone who does, Mental Health America, has resources for you.
If your state of mental health is pretty good and only needs a boost from exercise, nutrition or a little health coaching, you can always reach out to us at HomeFit. We love serving others!