Taking Care of Your Mental Health
Our health is the single most important resource we have, and that’s true for mental health, too. Unfortunately, we often don’t take care of our basic mental health needs, allowing problems to go unaddressed and potentially grow bigger. In the past, there were few options for tending to mental health needs, but resources and help become more available every day. As a society, it’s time that we end the stigma and start prioritizing our mental health just as much as our physical health.
Mental health and physical health: not as separate as we think.
It’s common to think that the mind is separate from the body, but we now know that they are very much connected and working together. An ongoing illness like diabetes or heart disease can lead to depression, as can anesthesia or cancer treatment. Anxiety and depression can be a risk factor for some illnesses and can lead to physical as well as emotional pain. Taking care of your mental health is a key part of taking care of your overall health.
You’re in good company if you have had mental health challenges.
Many people face anxiety or depression every day, believing they are alone in this struggle. It’s understandable: we’re not very good at talking about mental health, so it’s often hard to address these issues with other people. Believe it or not though, about 1 in 4 Americans face mental health challenges.
The next time you’re tempted to think you’re the only one who struggles with mental health problems, remember that others are probably putting on the same brave face as you are.
Taking care of your mental health is one of the most caring things you can do for yourself and others. When you are healthy – physically and mentally – you are able to show up and be present in your life. What better gift could you give yourself and those you love? You can take care of your mental health by getting enough exercise and sleep, and eating delicious food – real food – that nourishes your body and spirit.
It’s also important to maintain connection with others. When you suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental illness, it can feel overwhelmingly difficult to seek connection and care from others. But it’s one of the things people need the most from one another to stay healthy.
Find mental health support that works for your life.
There are many ways to take care of your mental health and heal from mental illness. It’s personal and different for everyone. Fortunately, there are now a number of options and paths to take. Here are a few options to think about.
- Talk to your doctor:(Tips here) Having a doctor that you can trust and connect well with is so important when it comes to discussing your mental health. If you don’t feel like your doctor listens to you and you have a challenging time trusting them, you may want to switch providers. Your doctor can help you explore what you need and what will work for you: medication, counseling, mindfulness, exercise, or a better eating plan. Your doctor can also work with you to figure out the causes of your problem, including an illness you have or a medication you’re taking.
- Try mindfulness. Mindfulness, with or without other forms of mental health care, can make a big difference in your life. It can help control the overwhelming stream of thoughts that feed depression and anxiety. It can help recognize the unhelpful stories we tell ourselves about our lives, so we can start to tell more helpful stories.
- Find a counselor. Counselors (or therapists) are mental health experts and can be an excellent source of support as you make changes in your life. They can give you new strategies for handling old problems, and help you practice those strategies. Check this website for resources to help you find mental health treatment near you.
- Connect with people. Mental illness sometimes makes people feel like they’re not good enough to be with other people. Resist the temptation to believe this. Find a way to spend time with others and get the support you need. Maybe meet up with friends for coffee, go for a walk with co-workers at lunchtime or do your favorite activities (knitting? singing? reading? gaming?) alongside others who have the same interests.
Your health, including your mental health, is your most precious resource. You can’t afford to let it slide. What will you do to take care of your mental health today.
If you would like more information on this, or any other health related topic, the health educators at the Learning Resource Center are happy to help. They provide trusted & reliable health information and connect people to local resources in the community. Connect with a health educator today! Be well, be well informed.