I am a firm believer that the mental health of a person is just as important as their physical health. I guess I believe this so strongly because I have seen the effects of someone not caring about the state of their mental health. By mental health I am not referring to the serious mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or any of the other severe mental illness people often face.
By mental health I'm simply referring to the state of our minds and the ways that our thinking affects our lives. I'm talking about caring for our minds in the same ways that we care for our physical bodies. One of the biggest ways to promote mental health is to take rest. Just like our physical bodies need sleep in order to be restored with energy, so our minds need time to just relax and reflect upon life and regain perspective. You can rest your mind in a variety of ways, it is simply important that you take the time to rest. For one person, guarding their mental health may mean setting aside time each day to meditate or reflect upon the good things in life. For another, mental health might be best maintained by reading a good book, writing in a journal, or listening to soothing music. And still another person may need to get outside and exercise in order to refresh their health mentally.
Learn yourself. Know the things that stress you out and know how to relax and refresh yourself as well. The state of your mind is much too important to be ignored, so do whatever it takes to keep your mind at rest and at peace. I guarantee that ignoring problems will only numb your mind for a little while at best. As the stresses of life have increased in the past few years, I have learned that one of the main things I need in order to guard my mental health is time alone. No matter what my schedule looks like each day, I always block out at least twenty minutes just to be alone. During that time, I do a variety of things that help renew my perspective and keep me on track. Somedays I go for a brisk walk and other days I sit in a coffeeshop with a latte and a newspaper. The important thing is not so much what I do, but simply that I take time to be alone and recharge my mental health.
Take time starting today to guard the state of your mental health. Take time to enjoy the small things in life and to remember all there is to be grateful for.
By Alissa Evans MS, ALC under the Clinical Supervision of Dr. Cates