Mental health and wellbeing in the past few years has become a very pop culture topic and these days is definitely something everyone is aware of, if not already talking about. Increased awareness is a great place to start, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we are thinking about mental wellness in a healthy way that fosters long term results.
I was recently in a café (solo which is a favourite past time) and overheard a discussion at the table next to me – some may call this eavesdropping, I prefer “observing”!
“So apparently it’s meant to help with my “mental health”, I don’t really understand it but what have I got to lose, it’s only for 30 days?” Insert laughter and the conversation digressed.
The fact she was so candid about not really knowing what it all meant and it had a “timeline” but was doing it anyway, confirmed to me that we are in an saturated level of marketing surrounding mental health.
In my opinion we need to be more informed and deliberate in our endeavours towards mental wellbeing long term – one footprint at a time.
I don’t ever want to assume that “mental wellbeing” is a commonly understood topic, it is both complicated and yet simplistic at the same time. A very basic concept of the meaning of “mental wellbeing” could be described simply as:
Every aspect and corner of our life has influence and direct impact on the state of our wellbeing. Mentally, emotionally and physically.
Every, with a capital EVERY!
When we talk about mental wellbeing we are describing our mental state – how we feel, our ability to cope, our response to life and all it dishes up. Some days and months our mental game is strong and other seasons and chapters in life, we limp.
Having a healthy mental state does not mean you never experience feelings, situations and circumstances that you find difficult and painful. What it does mean however, is that you have the resilience to cope in those times.
No-one can give you “wellbeing” it is a one man/woman show and you are the main character! It can help to think about “being well” as something you do, rather than something you are. The more you invest and deposit, the healthier you are likely to become and be.
People often assume that being happy is tell-tale sign to good mental wellbeing. This is definitely a part of it but far from the big picture. Some of the happiest people we know, behind the scene are suffering. Self- esteem, confidence, participating in life, contentment, relationships and purpose all play a huge part in the dynamic.
Here are four things that, can really help to boost and improve mental wellbeing:
The stronger you are physically, the higher the chance of your mental health being good is. Sleep patterns, poor diet, a constant state of stress and lack of physical activity can all have serious detrimental impact. It is not rocket science, find what works for you, your body and lifestyle. There is no such thing as a “one size” fits all approach, it is so important to “run your own race” in building physical strength and wellness.
Building healthy connected relationships is an important part of mental wellbeing. A strong network of positive people has huge influence of improving self-esteem, confidence and living life well. There is also something powerful about taking the focus off of us and investing into others by being a friend.
Forever a student
There are so many reasons to be a forever "life" student, always learning. It exposes you to new things which in turn expands the mind, can overcome boredom and the feeling of being "stale". Sir Francis Bacon, an English philosopher and writer who lived during the 17th century, once said, “Knowledge is power. When you have knowledge, you have the power to achieve many things. “
When was the last time you had FUN and enjoyed yourself? Adult play is a time to forget about work and commitments, and the many balls you might juggle. It is an unstructured and creative way to inject some enjoyment into your world. Author and psychiatrist Stuart Brown, MD, compares play to oxygen. He writes, “…it’s all around us, yet goes mostly unnoticed or unappreciated until it is missing.” Play can reduce stress, improve brain function, keep you energetic and “alive” and can greatly improve your mental and emotional health. It is a game changer for healing!
Maybe you have had an assumed understanding of mental wellbeing and health, or perhaps you have suffered desperately at the hand of it? Either way, there is great opportunity to make informed choices and create even minor changes to support and benefit your mental game.
If you are struggling with your mental health, you don’t have to do it alone.
Seek professional help through your GP doctor, therapist or contact Lifeline www.lifeline.org.au or phone 13 11 44
Lisa Bondarenko is a counsellor supporting people to function more effectively in their life and relationships. She has a holistic approach to physical, emotional and mental health, encouraging her clients to live consciously and proactively, as well as develop increased self-awareness, insight and skills.