Mental health is a topic that we can’t talk enough about, mainly because it can change drastically from day to day. It’s not discussed nearly enough in schools or on the workplace. You might see it from time to time on television. And there is a plethora of books on the subject, as well. But do we really talk about what it means? Let’s break the cycle, and start answering some questions.
Defining Mental Health
Merriam-Webster defines mental health as “the condition of being sound mentally and emotionally that is characterized by the absence of mental illness and by adequate adjustment especially as reflected in feeling comfortable about oneself, positive feelings about others, and the ability to meet the demands of daily life.”
What does all of that mean? Well, it’s important to note that often when we actually hear the words mental health, our first instinct is to react to the stigma associated with mental illness. They are both serious issues that affect our communities, but the difference between the two is significant.
Comparing one’s mental health with any type of mental illness is like comparing an immune system to the flu. Having a healthy immune system can’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it can help protect you. And even though having a healthy state of mental health won’t magically solve all of your problems, it can help lead to a stronger and healthier you.
“There’s no one reason . . . Not everything makes sense the way you want it to.” – from The Big One by Kailah Ensley
Why Your Mental Health Regimen Might Need Some Improvement
Mental illness is the silent killer that you have to find with a microscope. It’s a nuanced issue that we have to tackle in small but important ways. Can we solve all of our issues with a few tips and tricks? Not even close. But can we strive for more positive states of mind? Absolutely. The issue goes so much deeper than the emotional level. It goes to the core of who we are and what it means to be human.
Think of your mind as a newly sprouted plant, or even a car engine. Our minds need frequent nurturing and maintenance in order to continue to grow and function properly. Mental health affects everything from our productivity at work, to our relationships and our physical health. It has a trickle-down effect, and it is deeply personal. So let’s learn how to flex our mental muscles.
4 Ways to Nurture Your Mental Health
So what kind of tips and tricks are we talking about? Well, you’ve probably heard them before. They are more than just keywords and mental health hacks. They require hard work and dedication on your part, and they have to be interpreted in a realistic way that will apply to you personally. Here’s are some ideas on where to start:
Relaxation: Try yoga or meditation, take a walk or go for a drive
Exercise: Find something that challenges both mind and body
Inspiration: Listen to your favorite music, paint a picture, read a book or write a poem. The sky’s the limit, so get creative!
Inner Therapy: Have a real conversation with yourself. You can even do it out loud, if that helps. Honestly, this is the hardest part, but you have to stick with it. Be as honest as you can with yourself. You will come out stronger and more confident – the power comes in learning to understand and accept yourself.
Final Thoughts on Mental Health
We’re already taking on the world, ladies. Why not give ourselves the tools to be successful? It all starts with taking control of your mental health. Like with physical health, preventative action is the key. Don’t wait until you or your family member struggles with a mental illness. Encourage and inspire each other with genuine – if sometimes difficult – conversations. Trust me, you will be glad you did.
Kailah Ensley is an experienced writer of various poems, essays, short stories, and books. She is the author of newly published book, The Big One, which touches on the subjects of mental health, suicide, and substance abuse. She has degrees in Social Sciences and Social Work, and is the daughter of fellow Sass magazine contributor, travel writer and publisher Athelda Ensley. She currently resides in Maryland with her family.