It used to be that good mental health meant you had on diagnosable mental illness. More mental health professionals are taking a "positive psychology" approach and recognizing that mental health is more than an absence of illness, it is a stale of health.
Consider these key features evaluating your own mental health:
- flexibility - do you feel, and express, a range of emotions? When problems arise, can you change your expectations - of life, others, yourself - to solve the problem and feel better?
- resilience - are you able to bounce back from hard times? Can you manage the stress of a serious life event without losing your optimism and a sense of perspective?
- ability to enjoy life - can you live in the moment and appreciate the "now"? Are you able to learn from the past and plan for the future without dwelling on things you cannot change or predict?
- self-actualization - do you recognize and develop your strengths so that you can reach your full potential?
- balance - are you able to juggle the many aspects of your life? Can you recognize when you might be devoting too much time to one aspect, at the expense of others?
Benefits of good mental health
When we are mentally healthy, we enjoy our life and environment, and the people in it. We are better able to cope with difficult times in our personal and professional lives. We can be creative, learn, take risk, and try new things.
Caring our mental health can also helps us combat or prevent the mental health problems that are sometimes associated with a chronic physical illness. Physical fitness helps our bodies to stay strong, mental fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a state of good mental health. Chances are, you are already taking steps to sustain your mental health, as well as your physical health - you just might not realize it.
Nowadays, we are more aware of how our mental and physical health affect each other. Setting aside time to focus on mental health is important to you and those who care about you. By practising mind and body fitness, you can nurture your mind, body and spirit in a positive and enjoyable way. Good mental or emotional health helps us find our balance and stay in control, even during turbulent times. A range of options is available, to help you improve your mental fitness, including self-help books, meditation, relaxation therapy, support groups, and talk or behavioural therapy. Talking to a mental health professional, or other healthcare provider, can help you determine what type of support you will use the most.
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