Mental health is how you think, feel and act. It can affect your daily living and relationships. Mental health is basically how you handle yourself and make your choices. Wellness has a much broader aspect than just nutrition, exercise, and weight management.
Your body is the most sophisticated machine known to all. The organ system in your body works unanimously and so much so that it becomes automatic. And you are mostly not conscious of these processes. You eat without having to tell your stomach to digest, you walk without having to ask your legs to move, and you want to change your waist circumference without having to tell coax and muscles to go ahead and do the task. And you don’t stop here, you perceive, interpret and react to all the information around you without often being conscious of it.
Your mind is like the capital of the country you live in. Where the nerves are running throughout the body, where the hormones are rushing through the blood vessels instructing, guiding, directing even defending yourselves without you being aware. So what if the fogging of the brain happens and you seem to be losing control. The stomach doesn’t seem to have the food you eat, lungs don’t seem to breathe when you need the air, so much so that your thoughts are wandering around when you don’t want to think. This is when it is said that your mind or the functioning of your mind is hampered. Haven’t you all been to these states during exams or during interviews, or when you are sick or losing somebody or when you are threatened. Suddenly you are not in control of yourself. Your thinking, your emotions, feelings, sometimes you accept it and sometimes you blame it on some other things that are happening around you and that’s mental as physical as it can get. You confuse it as something that is unreal or that is not happening or that is imaginary and at times when somebody else is losing it, you call it deliberate.
Let’s explore health
You think you are healthy if you have not been diagnosed with an illness. If you don’t have aches, pains, or anything that is making you uncomfortable, you think you are healthy. People can be heard saying ‘I have never been sick in my life; I never had any illness in my life; I have never needed to take medications, so I am just fine!’ Word ‘Health’ comes from Proto-Germanic ‘hailitho’ which means whole or uninjured. So no wonder you associate it with the absence of disease or disability. But at times when your labs and scans are fine and you may not be able to feel well at all. Similarly, if one does not have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety or feeling depressed or psychotic does not mean that one is mentally healthy.
So What is Mental Health? According to WHO - mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Despite the definition, there is still a numerable complexity when defining something as mysterious as mental health. Thanks to the techniques of fMRI and Electroencephalograph (EEG). But what is good enough for one, may not be good enough for somebody else. And so the debate continues.
Wellness or Well-Being
Over a period of time, several theories come to wellness as well. From holistic to natural, spiritual to psychological and everybody appears to be talking about wellness but without any integrated approach. The most important and accepted concept of wellness has eight dimensions i.e. physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, financial, occupational, social, and environmental.
Now you have a theoretical understanding of mental health and wellness so let’s put it to the test. Am I well? Am I healthy? When do I need to visit a doctor? Am I in pain? Is pain something that I have to live with or deal with? Is it psychological or physical? These are all such questions all are looking for answers to. With widespread doubt and distrust, the confusions are high. The arguments have been rampant. And the debates do not seem to settle. But issues have to be addressed. Despite all the technological advances, you are more stressed than ever. Despite all the comforts, you are more uncomfortable than ever. Everybody seems to be having an opinion but there is no choice where every opinion comes together and gives us a solution.
You all agree on your mental health which is extremely important. By looking after it you can feel happier, more positive, and better equipped to get the most out of your life. Research shows that there are five ways we can do as part of our daily lives to boost our mental health and well-being.
Connect with those around us that are family, friends, and neighbors. Look to spend meaningful time with people each day. Instead of sending an email, WhatsApp, or messaging, opt to talk to someone whom you can trust. But talking about trust also invites a debate. Speak to someone new, ask how someone’s weekend was, and carefully listen when they tell you to arrange a catch-up with friends. Join a club or group of people who share a common interest that adds value to your life. These connections are the cornerstone of your life and invest time in developing and strengthening them. Building these connections will enrich you every day.
Look for ways to be active every day. Go for a walk. Step outside, stretch, cycle, play outdoor games, do some gardening, or dance. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy that suits your level of mobility and fitness. Being active every day causes changes in your brain which can positively affect your mood. Exercising makes you feel good.
Learning is about new skills and information about topics that interest you. We can keep learning by trying something new, updating our skills - rediscovering an old interest; signing up for a new course; fixing a bike; taking on a new responsibility at work or learning to play a musical instrument; trying a new recipe, or making an old one with new twists. Set a challenge, you enjoy achieving. Learning can make you more confident and boost your self-esteem- it can also be fun learning.
Giving is about a small act of kindness to other people. Whether that be your time, patience, words, or smile. The smallest act can count. Do something nice for a family member or a friend or a stranger without any expectations. Thank someone who once brought a smile to your face. A surprise note will do wonders.
Take notice is to be present in the here and now. Pay attention to the world around you. Nature, people, your thoughts and feelings. Be curious. Catch the sight of the beauty, remark on the unusual, notice the changing seasons, and savour the moment. Becoming more aware of the present moment and reflecting on your experience will help you appreciate what matters to you.
If your mental or emotional state gets disturbed - help is always available. Talk about it, and consult a doctor - a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a counsellor. As for physical health, we seek doctor advice or consultation. Hence, make mental health and wellbeing your priority.
About the Writer- Anamika is a Clinical Psychologist. She specializes in exceptional children and is an educational counsellor associated with NGOs.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are his own and CitySpidey does not endorse them in anyway.