There has been much hype around mental health awareness in the last few years. Ads on tv, posters and organisations posting about the importance of mental health. This is an extremely welcome and important shift away from the stigma and taboo of mental illness.
But what are the practical things that we can do to achieve and maintain mental health? What areas of life need our attention?
Physical health- the link between mental and physical health cannot be overstated. It is difficult, to say the least, to achieve a healthy mental state if the body is not healthy. Some health professionals go as far as to say that all health begins in the gut (Dr. Nigma Talib, Dr. Josh Axe, Natasha Campbell McBride author of "Gut and Psychology Syndrome", to name but a few). A healthy diet and exercise are key to achieving physical health. Getting enough quality sleep is also crucial. I will be doing a further post delving into the connection between physical and mental health so watch this space.
Emotional health- are there people in your life that are dragging you down or treating you poorly? How can you deal with them differently? Try to spend your time around people who make you feel good about yourself, who nurture, support and encourage you. Likewise, giving back to your loved ones and to your community can create a sense of wellbeing.
Spiritual health- if you practice a religion that includes regular prayer, you may already be getting a daily spiritual uplift. However, many do not engage in this practice, so what else can be done? Meditation can be a hugely beneficial practice for spiritual health. It has also been shown to have great physical and mental healing powers. Meditation does not have to take up a huge part of your day; there are many short meditations can you fit in around your daily routine. Try www.youtube.com for some wonderful free meditations. Other ways to feed the spirit include spending time in nature, relaxing with a good book and practicing gratitude and forgiveness. If you do not practice prayer in a religious sense what might it be like instead to take a few minutes each day to reflect on what you are grateful for? What feeds the soul can be quite unique to each of us, what is important is knowing what works for you and incorporating it into your life.
These are just some ideas for improving and maintaining your mental health. Check out the chart below for some other facets of life that may require attention.