Mental Health Health: Is happiness the best medicine?

Are You Taking Care Of Your Mental Health Health?

Is your pursuit of prestige, beauty and a fit body overriding your emotional and psychological health? You work hard on getting your body physically fit, you invest perhaps even more time into your beauty plan regime, you may even have a healthy eating plan because you appreciate that a good figure doesn't come about from a junk food diet.

You might by now have even progressed onto an even bigger goal, the achievement of which will see your income sky rocket to six figures; or to get that sports car you've had your eye on for some time now. All of this you say, will make you 'as happy as Larry'. But, have you forgotten something?

  • When was it last that you exercised and stretched your mind with an emotional and intellectual workout, to promote your mental health health?

  • When did you last review your belief system or reassessed your long term goals to see what really makes you happy? Or, to even asked yourself 'is this what I really want?'

  • When did you last invest in your mental health health by doing some mental exercises; reading a good book that fed your imagination and boosted your thought processes?

  • When did you last set a personal goal to promote your mental health health?

  • For most people, health, wealth and happiness are associated with 'the good life'. You may be fortunate enough to have all three at the same time but these characteristics can also be created, conserved or lost because of the way you think and what you do, or, even what you omit to do.

    It is commonly known in the mental health field that in order to achieve good mental health health, you also need a healthy dose of self esteem. However, what has not been stressed adequately is the importance and need to nurture such traits as positive emotional wellness, optimism, memories and happiness. Happiness - is after all one of the building blocks to good mental health health and stability.

    Acccording to Time magazine, numerous research on 'happiness', 'optimism' 'positive emotions and 'healthy character traits', have consistently shown that people who are governed by the premise that money, fame or beauty will make them happy, are deceiving themselves In fact, they are building their lives on a foundation that may be detrimental to their mental health health and may even lead to their suffering depression. To make sense of this statement, let's consider what is mental health health.

    What is mental health health?

    Mental health is a concept that refers to a human individual's emotional, psychological and intellectual well-being. One definition of mental health is:

    "A state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life."

    Yet, in your pursuit of the other 'good things in life' such as the sports car or the perfect physique, it is all too easy to neglect your mental health health; which after all, is a pre-requisite for being able to enjoy the good life.

    The World Health Organization's (WHO) viewpoint is that there is no one "official" definition of mental health. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how "mental health" is defined. In general, most experts however agree that "mental health" and "mental illness" are not opposites. In other words, the absence of a recognized mental disorder is not necessarily an indicator of mental health.

    What this definition is clearly saying is that (a) just because you perceive yourself as being in good mental health health, and, (b) there is no identifiable mental illness, this does not mean you are in fact in the best of mental health.

    Consider for instance your stress levels and your level of personal satisfaction and happiness in other key areas of your life, as you pursue helter skelter your physical and material life ambitions.

    What are the characteristics of mental health health?

    One of the ways in which your mental health health can be measured, is by looking at how effectively and successfully you are presently functioning in your every day life. Your ability to recover and bounce back from challenging situations and events, are all signs of having good mental health health. Ask yourself this:

  • Are you feeling capable and competent?

  • Are you able to manage your levels of stress? By this I mean - levels of stress which is normal for you and your circumstances; since what might be considered 'stressful' to one person, may seem like a 'blip' to another, there's little point in comparing one problem against another

  • Are you able to maintain satisfying relationships?

  • Are you satisfied with the level of independence you have in your life?

  • How good are you at dealing with 'problems?' or managing your day-to-day emotional health and fitness

  • Are you happy with your life? Understanding where you're at in your mental, psychological, intellectual and emotional dimension of wellness, must be your starting point.

    Once you have a clear assessment of your level of wellness in any of the above aspects, you can become more pro-active about your mental health care.

  • Without doubt, happiness is one of the main contributor to mental health health. However, happiness, as with mental health, health is not the result of a single factor but many things in life which come together to produce happiness. For example, the quality of love and support of your family, friends, career/job satisfaction, your social/leisure life and your spirituality.

    But what if your level of satisfaction in any one or more of these 7 dimensions of health and wellness, falls short of your expectation and/or need? It will undoubtedly have an impact on your level of contentment across all of the above areas and ultimately affecting your level of happiness, which is a key contributor to your mental health health.

    'Happiness or related mental states like hopefulness, optimism and contentment also appear to reduce the risk or limit the severity of cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypoertension cold and upper respiratory infections'. And while there is no clear evidence on how mental states affect the body, research has shown that positive, optimistic people have lower levels of stress hormone - cortisol, which is known to suppress the immune system.

    Moreover, a Dutch study of elderly patients showed that over a nine year period, a happy positive disposition reduced the risk of death by an amazing 50%.

    It figures therefore that since happiness and a happy disposition fosters health, mental health and wellness, it is a key ingredient, which by far may be the best medicine for your mental health health.

    Having such a disposition however is something which you need to work at, to create and to maintain.

    You can learn exactly how to go about understanding how you're processessing your experiences and the changes you can now make to increase your health and happiness quota here.

    If you still belive that putting most if not all your energies into your material or physical fitness goals is the key to happiness, this might help you to reassess.

    'In the United States, many people are richer than they have ever been but are basically no happier for it' says (Time). What this demonstrate is that material progress does not diminish anxiety or stress, but heightens them. As Richard Ryan, Professor of Psychology in the United States, points out, 'the more people seek satisfaction in material things, the less they find it there.'

    "Our very mode of life has now become our principal cause of emotional and mental instability" is the conclusion of another university study.

    You will also find that consistently dwelling on 'what if's, 'if only', or seeking to recall unhappy memories of 'what might have been', will not only serve to heighten anxiety or stress but will keep you blocked in a never ending spiral of doubt, fear or 'problem-oriented' existence; a position which is not condusive to enhancing your mental health. And since these kinds of memory recalls tend to focus on the negative experiences such as what hasn't worked out for you or what was hugely disappointing to you, or what you 'failed' to achieve' etc.,

    Am I right in saying that this practice brings no joy but instead leave a bitter taste in your mouth and at worst, a feeling of deja vu? Make a decision to positively promote your mental health and fitness starting today.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't pursue your physical and material ambitions or simply forget past experiences which you found 'limiting' or 'belittling', (because after all, your past created your present and is therefore a valid part of that which will now shape your future).

    what I am saying, is that a healthy balance between pursuing your material goals while affording equal attention and nurturing of your emotional and mental health health is the key to being successful and happy. Similarly, taking a constructive approach to learning from your past experiences rather than using your recall in ways that reinforce and build on fear, doubt and problem-oriented ways of living, will also increase your happiness and mental health quota.

    Just think what you would achieve for your mental health, health if you would only change this thinking pattern to a more positive alternative.

    Recall instead, (a) something from the past which had brought you joy, happiness, pleasure and contentment; or (b) making positive use of your memory recall by learning how not to make those mistakes again. See where I'm going with this? Mental Exercises are an excellent way of changing your thinking and helping you to become more positive.

    Why not now set yourself a goal to promote your mental health health!

    You will find guidance on how to set a goal here. Alternatively, you might prefer the ease of receiving this guidance via email.

    What is Mental Health Health Promotion

    Mental health, health promotion refers to strategies adopted to maintain and improve mental health - health on three broad levels - i.e. 'individual', 'community' and 'governmental'. At the individual level, it boils down to personal responsibility. Here are three strategies you will personally need to work on to improve and maintain your mental health, health.

  • Individual Mental health, health promotion at the individual level is about you taking personal responsibility; using your resources - i.e. self help, building and maintaining your self- esteem; working on your your motivation; developing your coping skills: assertiveness and insight to enable you to function in areas of your personal relationships, family and work.

  • Psychological Your beliefs will determine your actions and how you communicate and interact with other people. Being aware of your beliefs and how they promote or hinder your mental health health is paramount in bringing about positive change in your thinking processes as well as to your life.

  • Social Your level of functioning at this level will determine your social networks and your level and quality of inclusion and interaction with friends, colleagues etc., Promotion at this level includes developing support structures both in and out of the workplace for example

  • If you experience great difficulty in implementing one or more of the above strategies, then you might want to consider getting some mental health counseling. Mental health counselling does not mean you have a mental illness. You may just need a mental health counselor to help you unravel or make sense of some of life's challenges or barriers you are experiencing.

    How to improve your mental health and emotional state

    Here is a useful NLP (Neurolinguistic Programing) technique you can use to help recall your happy past memories.

    If you don't yet use a journal to record your health goals, this is a good time to start. You might also want to refer back to the entire personal goal setting section of this site, which provide useful and practical guidance for setting your personal goals.

    For the next two to three days, set aside ten to twenty minutes each day to focus on building and strengthening your mental retreat. This will be a place to which you can take timeout, whenever you feel the need to be in a positive and resourceful state, to practice this mental exercise. Daily practice will help you develop in your ability to enter a positive state and draw on past happy experiences, as well as helping you to confront and manage challenges or barriers more effectively.

    Find yourself a quiet corner on your own or a place where you will feel calm and relaxed. If music helps you to relax, use it. (My choice is usually being out in the garden or a nature walk some where quiet and peaceful). Spend some time recalling a happy occasion - a time when you felt really happy and experienced a sense of contentment. This could be for example, when you achieved your promotion; or a special and intimate time with your partner; or even a day when you felt so good to be alive, it was a positively intoxicating experience. You want to be sure of choosing one that puts you in a relaxed frame of mind.

    Once you've recorded your memory in your journal, now make that memory as vivid as you possibly can. Detail is everything here.

  • What were you wearing? Color, dress, skirt? etc.,
  • What perfume or scent did you use that day? Can you smell it?
  • How was your hair styled? What color or tint was it?
  • What do you remember about the smells, taste, textures, colors, sensations relating to your experience?
  • How were you feeling? Happy? Optimistic? exhilerated? Proud? a sense of achievement?
  • Recall your environment - what was happening around you?
  • What kind of day was it - sunny, warm, cold?
  • Were there people, stillness, peace, quiet, music or noise?

  • Keep building positively on your memory recall with more detail, to make it stronger and until you feel as if the occasion or event had just happened. After a few days practice, you should find you are able to enter into this state just as easily as you are able to leave it. You will also have given your mental health health a workout.

    This is an effective technique for recalling positive and happy past experiences and memories. Once developed, you will find it will instantly take you from a negative emotion to a positive one. Most importantly, when you're in your mental retreat, it will help you find answers to challenges or issues which keep you blocked.

    Simply think about the issue - and then record your thoughts, feelings and emotions in your journal. Do the same when looking for a solution to an issue. Once you have your answer, visualise your achievement outcome. I have every faith in you building, creating and maintaining your mental health health.

    "A good recipe and a good cook make for a good meal! In a way it's similar with your mental health. It's not the result of a single factor but many things in life come together to produce mental health!" (Awake)

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    The information on this site is purely of educational value and is not intended to replace your seeking medical advice. You must consult your doctor over all your health concerns.

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