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Mental Health Check Lately??!!

Updated on November 15, 2014

What is Mental Health?

Basically the all mental health really is, is the way a person think, act and cope with life and all the different stressors and challenges. Though these stressors and challenges are considered a part of the human experience and life, it can be the difference between moving on with life or standing still. An individual’s mental health actually affects the way one looks at themselves, their life and other people around them. Out of all the influences a person has in life, it is one of the strongest influences when determining the individual’s potential for achieving their goals, that is why a mental health check is so important for everyone to do once in a while.

How can I tell if I have good mental health wellness?

It is believed peoples with good mental health wellness do better functioning during a stressful situation. Here is a list of a way to tell if you have good mental health wellness:

  • Self-appreciation

  • Communicating about your feelings

  • Enjoying life to the fullest

  • Forming good interpersonal relationships

  • Seeking help in difficult times

  • Setting and achieving realistic goals

  • Bouncing back from adversity

Resiliency

Developing resiliency in one’s self is normally a great way of maintaining a good mental health wellness. Those who have developed their resiliency normally will adapt well to stress, trauma, adversity or tragedy. Basically, the person will have the ability to remain stable and maintain a healthy levels of both physical and psychological functioning when their life is disrupted or even into chaos. When face with a negative situation a person with resiliency are able to harness the strengths they have developed and utilize them to rebound quickly from a setback or even a challenge. If a person hasn’t had the ability to develop a strong level of resiliency, they are normally more likely to dwell on the problems and feel as if they have been victimized; this can be overwhelming leading to the individual turning to unhealthy coping skills and mechanisms. This isn’t saying a person who is resilient is a superhero who can stop or not have problems; it gives them the ability to see past the problem, find enjoyment in life and be that much stronger in the future when trouble comes to call again.

I can almost bet at least a fourth of the individuals who hear the word resilience don’t know what it means, another fourth don’t know how to get some and another fourth thinks it’s something you have to be born with. The good thing is the first two can be fixed with the right information and education; the third group has to change the way they think to believe they do have a chance. Resiliency isn’t a trait some people have and some people don’t, it is actually takes work and a mindset of continuous education for the betterment of your own health; best part is it takes very little effort to learn and develop. Here are suggestions on how to build or rebuild your resiliency:

  • Do not give up – set a realistic goals and keep on working on them no matter what the challenges there are.

  • Develop a positive attitude – basically when life decides it wants to challenge you, remember to maintain a positive self-talk. Tell yourself things like “I am strong”, “I have this”, or even something as simple as saying “’Your last name’ never give up”. Basically anything that is going to keep you in a positive mindset as you take on the challenge.

  • Develop an internal locus of control – a person that has an internal locus of control believe they are the ones in control of their lives; not some outside force. Remember you may not always be able to control what life throws your way, but you can control how you react to these situations.

  • Cultivate optimism – do not just look at the bright side of life, minimize the setbacks and weaknesses by maximizing your strengths and accomplishments.

  • Strengthen emotional awareness – emotions are powerful and at times they can feel as if they are overwhelming, sometimes to the point of immobilization. If you can figure out what is causing the emotions before they become overwhelming, then you have a better chance of keeping them in check. Something as simple as a journal of what is going on in your life and how you feel about it will allow you to release some of the power it has over you. With a little research on your own, you may be able to find positive coping skills to deal your emotions.

  • Garner social support – we must never forget we are not an island and with the help of others can get through the worst situations in life. Plus those with a strong social network normally are happier and healthier throughout the years of their life.

To make it even simpler here are ten basic sets that will help you on your way to becoming resilient and to have good mental health:

  1. Build Confidence

  2. Accept Compliments

  3. Make Time for Family and Friends

  4. Give and Accept Support

  5. Create a Meaningful Budget

  6. Volunteer

  7. Manage Stress

  8. Find Strength in Numbers

  9. Identify and Deal with Moods

  10. Learn to Be at Peace with Yourself

Poor Mental Health Wellness

You may be telling yourself, that is just too much work. Why do I need to put that much effort into my mental health wellness? Nothing ever happens to me, I have a prettying boring life. This may be true yesterday, today and even tomorrow; but what about next week when the boss hands you a project you have no idea how to complete and only gives you a day to do it, you are let go from work due to budget cuts, a close family member is seriously hurt, or just some unknown variable stresses you out? Will you be able to pull yourself together from the initial shock and get going in the right direction or will you sit there and act like a victim? We will look at some of the risk factors of poor mental health wellness:

  • Poor physical health

  • Poor diet

  • Smoking

  • Sedentary lifestyle

  • Experiencing trauma

  • Poor socio-economic status

  • Limited or no access to healthcare or mental health treatment

  • High amounts of stress (excess stress can lead to cardiac problems)

  • Negative coping skills which can include:

  • Avoidance of problems

  • Denial

  • Ignoring or denying feelings

  • Excessive working

  • Self-mutilation

  • Excessive alcohol use

  • Using drugs, including stimulants and sedatives

Medical problems

Even after reading the risk factors of poor mental health wellness, you still think "I’ll be alright". You tell yourself stress will never get the best of me. Well according to the American Institute of Stress, stress is actually linked to cardiovascular disease. In 1959, two scientist, Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, conducted a study that has shown certain behavioral patterns were actually associated with high blood cholesterol levels, shorter clotting times and even coronary artery disease. Doctor Paul J. Rosch called these patients Type A Coronary Prone Behavior. The Type A Behaviors include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor social environment

  • Concern with quantity and not quality of work

  • Lack of rest

  • Excessive multitasking

  • Competitiveness

  • Overt aggression

  • Increased muscle activity

If that isn’t bad enough Doctor David Servan-Schreiber has found that poor mental health has also lead to the development of cancer. Basically, he found those with poor mental health normally had poor physical health; which in turn lowered their immune system and their bodies’ ability to fight off illnesses.

Building a Strategy for Good Mental Health Wellness

What most people don’t realize is that many mental health problems can begin when physical or emotional stress trigger chemical changes in their brain. The overall goal of treatment and prevention is to reduce the stressors and restore the chemical process in the brain back to normal.
Utilizing an old saying, “The best defense is a good offense”; such is true when it comes to both your physical and mental health. So how do we build our offense? Well as we stated above maintaining good mental health wellness is a start; however as we all know at times the defense is going to have to go out on the field of play and when they do we want them to have the knowledge and skills to stop the incoming threat and to get back on track. In order to do this we need to build our play book or in the case of mental health, coping skills. Coping skill are not something you will master overnight, like any great play they must be practiced and honed for the day they will be utilized for more than just relaxing at the end of a day.

Examples of positive coping skills:

  • Meditation and Relaxation – deep breathing technique can be very useful on a daily basis and especially on days that have been rougher than others. These techniques can be easily obtained with little to no effort on yourself and at least 10 minutes out of your day. Here are a few examples of these techniques and how to ensure you will be successful.

    • Deep Breathing – this is one of the easiest of stress management techniques you can learn and it can be accomplished anywhere. By taking deep breathes you are allowing your body to release endorphins into the brain, helping to calm and release your stress. Deep breathing is normally the basis for just about any other relaxation tool.

      1. Find a comfortable position, preferably sitting or lying down; however in a pinch standing will work to just remember to find a wall or something else solid to help with your balance.

      2. Place one hand on your stomach, using the bottom of your rib cage as a locator.

      3. Now you want to slowly begin taking in breathe through your nose. As you take in your breath you want to ensure your stomach is rising and expanding outward. This is also known as a deep belly breath.

      4. Hold this breath between two and four seconds.

      5. Then slowly exhale through your mouth, ensure you emptying yours lungs completely allowing your stomach to fall.

      6. The cycle of breaths can be counted like this: inhale counting to four, hold counting to four, exhale counting to four, relax counting to four. Repeat this cycle until you feel relaxed.

      7. Practice this each day, the number of times will depend on each individual and their level of stress. Recommend at least two to three times a day until you find a confrontable amount for yourself.

  • Meditation – the mind-body practice of focusing your mind on a positive thought while attempting to eliminate or lower their stream of thoughts. It is believed to help to gain a higher level of relaxation and mental calmness. If practice routinely it is believed to change how someone will react to their emotions or thoughts on a daily basis.

  • Relaxation Response – the idea of this exercise is simple, you want to reach a level of deep relaxation. When you attain this you should feel a decrease in your breathing, blood pressure, pulse rate, etc. This exercise can also lead to an enhancement of your mood and a reduction of lifestyle stress.

  1. First find a word, phrase, sound or even a muscular activity you find easy to concentrate on and also is calming. You will start a repetition of your chosen activity, with a passive disregard for any other thoughts or worries that may attempt to creep in. If they do, do not be alarmed, let them pass out of your body by focusing on your repetition.

  2. Find a comfortable sitting or lying position in a quiet, safe and distraction free area. Now close your eyes and relax your muscles starting at your feet continuing up to your calves, thighs through your neck and head.

  3. You will want to breathe slowly and at a natural rate for you. Make sure to continue focusing on your word, sound, etc. as you exhale.

  4. You should attempt to continue this process for 10 to 20 minutes. It is alright to open your eyes to look at a clock; however, do not set an alarm as this will startle you and raise your stress level.

  5. Finally, when you are finished, stay in your confrontable position with your eyes closed. Gradually allow your thoughts to return to reality and as you do slowly open your eyes.

  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) – this exercise is based on alternately tensing and relaxing of your muscles while utilizing deep belly breaths. Plus this exercise can help to relieve muscular tension while you are relaxing.

    1. To start off, find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down with your eyes closed. Note: Do not attempt PMR in a standing position due to possibility of a falling injury. Now take a few deep belly breaths, ensuring your belly is expanding as you inhale and is contracting as you exhale.

    2. It does not matter if you start at the top or bottom of your body. For example purposes only we will start at the top with our head. You want to tense your facial muscles by squeezing your eyes shut, puckering your mouth and clenching your jaw. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your head feels relaxed.

    3. Moving onto your shoulders, lift them to your ears and hold keeping them tense. Again hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your neck and shoulders feel relaxed.

    4. Next make a tight fist with your right hand, as you do this also tighten the muscles in both your lower and upper arm. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Move onto the left hand repeating these steps. Repeat until your right and left arm feel relaxed. Remember to alternate and not to repeat on the same side twice in a role, this will ensure for equal muscle relaxation.

    5. Now the back, concentrate on your back by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your back feels relaxed.

    6. Suck in your stomach, tightening your muscles throughout your abdomen. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your stomach feels relaxed.

    7. Clench your buttocks, tightening your muscles throughout. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your buttocks feels relaxed.

    8. Hamstring time, first tighten your right hamstring. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Now tighten your left hamstring. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your hamstrings feel relaxed. Remember to alternate and not to repeat on the same side twice in a role, this will ensure for equal muscle relaxation.

    9. Onto the calves, first flex your right calf. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Now flex your left calf. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your calves feel relaxed. Remember to alternate and not to repeat on the same side twice in a role, this will ensure for equal muscle relaxation.

    10. Finally, tighten your right foot by clenching your toes. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Now tighten your left foot by clenching your toes. Hold this position for four second, release and breathe as you do. Repeat until your feet feel relaxed. Remember to alternate and not to repeat on the same side twice in a role, this will ensure for equal muscle relaxation.

  • Time to yourself – if you can do nothing else, set aside a time every day to allow yourself to escape and relax from life stressors.

  • Physical Activity – Moving around increases the heart rate, which in turn releases endorphins into the brain allowing for stress to dissipate. Note: Exercise alone will not solve all of your stressors; however, it may allow for enough stress to be released to focus on other techniques.

  • Reading – find a good book and allow your mind to escape into the story. Reading is one way to redirect your mind and allow you to re leave your mind of everyday life. Note: Reading alone will not solve all of your stressors; however, it may allow for enough stress to be released to focus on other techniques.

  • Family and friends – sometimes just having someone around willing to listen and give you the support needed to get through both good and bad times.

  • Humor – if appropriate, add a little humor to the situation. Humor goes a long way to lighten the overall mood when things are over heating or serious.

  • Hobbies – Any type of hobby is useful when it comes to relieve everyday stress. The hobby can be anything ranging for listening to music, dancing, drawing, wood crafting, boating, fishing to gardening. Basically anything you find fun, calming and relaxing.

  • Pets – Having a pet to care for allows a person to take their mind off of stressful thoughts and situations. Pets have also been found to cause a calming influence in the lives of their owners by releasing positive endorphins from something as simple as petting.

  • Sleeping – The human body utilities sleep as a time to recharge and repair itself. Sleep allows time to de-stress and prepare for tomorrow.

  • Spirituality – For some, having an active belief in a higher power or a divine entity aids in a healthier life. Some studies have shown pray actually helps some to have a better mental health.

  • Nutrition – by eating foods that are good and healthy for you not only helps your physical health, but as a major part in your mental health. With the right nutrients the human body can function at it top capacity. Plus nutrition can help some with self-esteem in the way they look and how others look at them.

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    • Dino Veteran profile image
      Author

      Sandy D 3 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you Dr., I once was one of those people your talking about, but have been struggling and continue to do so. Giving up isn't in me and I feel the need to help others if I can. Someone helped me, now I'm trying to help someone else. I pray if this helps one person they will in turn push it on and help another.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      You covered it all!

      I studied stress. Chronic stress raises the stress hormones in the body. That changes the biological set points for things like cardiovascular functioning. It changes what we eat--forcing us to crave fats and salt, like cheeseburgers and fries! And the harder we work, the less efficient we become.

      There's a dozen other things chronic stress does too. I'm glad you covered how to deal with it.

      I especially liked this point:

      •Develop an internal locus of control – a person that has an internal locus of control believe they are the ones in control of their lives; not some outside force.

      So many of the people I saw as a psychotherapist lost the sense "of being me" to outside forces.

      Great post!