Every time someone asks “How are you?” Most of us just say “Fine”, we don’t really think about it before answering. But are we really fine at every moment of every day? The most important thing for us especially during this pandemic is to be ‘well’ and happy.
According to World Health Organization, Wellness is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, let us take a moment to explore how we can be well and improve our mental and emotional health.
It is an active process
Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of what is good for your health and making choices to achieve it. For most people, it is easier to focus on physical health. Problems with physical health are more obvious than poor mental or emotional health.
It is important though that you pay just as much attention to your emotional health. The mind-body connection is a powerful one and should not be ignored. Problems with physical health often have their origin in poor emotional health.
What Are Some Characteristics of Mental And Emotional Health?
Your mental health influences how you think, feel and behave in daily life.
A. It affects your ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.
B. Handle emotions appropriately and control behaviour.
C. Build and maintain strong relationships
D. Have a positive outlook on life and are able to bounce back from adversity which is known as resilience.
According to the Origins of Happiness report, eliminating mental health issues such as depression and anxiety would increase happiness by 20%.
For most Nigerians today, daily life alone is stressful. Additionally, we now have insecurity, economic difficulty, increase in prices, cost of living and the effects of the pandemic to worsen the situation. All these can cause an increase in anxiety, depression, substance abuse and community violence.
How Can We Improve Mental And Emotional Health?
Good mental or emotional health allows you to cope with difficulties. We feel good about ourselves and find meaning and joy in life. We are able to maintain good relationships whether times are good or bad. It also helps us remain focused and work productively.
Below are some key factors for improving mental and emotional health and building resilience
The theme of 2020 Mental health Awareness Week is KINDNESS. You may recognize the expression “it is better to give than receive”, but did you know this is backed up by research? People who are kind and compassionate see clear benefits to their wellbeing and happiness. Research shows that they feel enriched, have greater self-esteem and are happier.
Acts of kindness have the potential to make the world a happier place as it encourages others to repeat the good deeds they have experienced themselves – contributing to a more positive community. Start with simple things like calling a friend who you haven’t spoken to for a while, checking on someone you know who is going through a tough time, offering to support colleagues who may not be familiar with videoconferencing or new software that you have already used. Or pausing and reflecting before attacking someone in the comment section on social media.
Share your burden
The best way to reduce stress is by interacting with people who care about you and are supportive. Your situation may not change but by talking about your problems with people you trust, you lighten the load. Avoid social media “relationship building”, It is only a temporary distraction and is not a substitute for the real thing.
Exercise not only boosts your mood by releasing endorphins in your brain but it has direct benefits for your physical health. It improves memory, alertness, and productivity. Start with just 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. Learn how to boost your dose of DOSE (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphine) here. With the right dose of DOSE, you can regulate your moods, feelings and emotions.
Deep breathing relaxation techniques, meditation and adequate sleep are helpful. Spend at least 15 minutes daily on something you enjoy such as reading, playing a game, singing or playing with your children. It is important to make time for relaxation. Also, surround yourself with people who are positive and build you up.
More research is finding that a nutritious diet is not just good for the body; it is great for the brain too. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, sugary snacks and stress eating. Choose healthy stress-busting eating options instead. Green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit, beans and fish are all good choices.
Some other tips on dealing with your emotions are to think before you act and strive for balance in your life. Every day, write down something that you are grateful for and focus on the positive things in your life.