Erin writes for a number of blogs on various health, nutrition, and wellness topics.
In recent years, more people have begun caring more about their health. What many don’t recognize is that there are different dimensions to our health. In order to achieve optimal health, you need to make sure you're where you need to be in them all. These dimensions include chemical, spiritual, and physical. These have been called various names, like spiritual health is synonymous with mental and emotional health.
Spiritual health is sometimes forgotten or placed on the backburner compared to what you do (physical) and eat (chemical). But, it’s just as important! (Especially this year, with the emotional and mental strain that people have undergone.)
I mean think about it, we’ve had to quarantine—not socializing or being able to participate in usual hobbies. Several studies have reported negative psychological complications, including symptoms of traumatic stress, confusion, and anger in cases involved in stressful situations. The long quarantine period and the epidemic has come with fear of infection, despair, boredom, inadequate food shortages, inadequate information, financial loss, and stigma.
With the virus, normal life was hijacked, to say the least. As a result, some of our mental states may not be the best. So, let’s discuss ways to get it the best it can be!
What It Is and Why It’s important
First things first, what is mental, or spiritual, health? This aspect of health has everything to do with what you think, how you think, your relationships, your attitude, and your overall well-being. Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act such as in handling stress, relating to others, and making choices.
Mental health problems can negatively influence your thinking, mood, and behavior. Different factors can contribute to the state of your mental health. Biological factors, life experiences, and family history of mental health problems all play a role. Biological factors include genes and brain chemistry, and life experiences could include abuse or trauma.
Poor mental health can severely take a toll on your health as well as life. It can affect your job, productivity, family, friends, and more. Signs of mental health issues may include eating or sleeping too much or not enough, isolation, low energy, feeling numb, experiencing unusual aches and pains, feeling helpless/hopeless, increased substance abuse, mood swings, obsessive thoughts, hearing voices, and more.
One in five Americans experience mental health issues which translates to more than 40 million adults a year! Mental illness increases the risk for many other health problems such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
If you have mental health problems or poor mental health, the good news is you can improve it. When you begin to have good mental health you’ll be able to realize your full potential, cope with everyday stress, and remain productive.
Corey L. M. Keyes explains that mental illness is especially common in youth. Ten to twenty percent of young people will have some form anxiety or mood disorder, or substance use disorder by age 18. Poor mental health can impact young people even more so than adults as they are still developing, and it can hinder academic and social success.
How to Improve Your Mental Health
The first step is realizing your mental health could be better and having the desire to improve it. Did you know that working on and maintaining the other dimensions of health can improve another? It’s true! If you work on at least two aspects of health, the third will naturally follow.
For instance, if you are exercising and practicing good nutrition, you are likely to be happier and more productive in your everyday life. Sometimes though, you can’t do it alone even if you want to. Professional help could be the answer in this case. Helping others can affect your own mental health in a positive way as well.
Try doing the following small things to start improving your mental health:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet
- Open up to people
- Take a break when needed
- Remember something you're grateful for
- Get some good sleep
Most importantly, always keep trying and don't give up hope. Helping yourself is just as important as helping others. For your health's sake, put your mental health first if it's poor and taking a toll on your life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Erin Day