Your mental wellness is a key to your overall well-being, and therefore worth nurturing and protecting. But what is mental wellness, and how can you improve it? Let’s explore those questions together.
What is mental wellness?
Mental wellness is a measure of how your mind is either flourishing or suffering. It is not the opposite of mental
illness, which only affects about fifteen percent of the world’s population. All of us can be affected by negative influences on our mental wellness. Even people who have been diagnosed with mental illness need to take measures to protect their mental wellness.
According to the World Health Organization, an accurate definition of mental wellness is “A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
As you can see, this definition doesn’t mention the pursuit of happiness; instead, it focuses on preserving the ability to cope in any situation, and on the ability to use the ways you have been uniquely gifted for the benefit of self and others.
Stress, loneliness, worry, and the trials of life can take a toll on our level of mental wellness, but we can take steps to lower the severity of negative influences. It is important to pay attention to the influences on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, which all combine to help us feel mentally well.
When we feel mentally well, we will be content with our lives, calling, relationships, personal growth, and relationship with God. By contrast, when our mental wellness is suffering, we feel discontent in those areas and experience greater levels of sadness, anxiety, and disengagement.
Signs your emotional health is suffering.
Preserving mental wellness involves a plan for developing better coping skills for stressors. If these signs are present in your life, it may mean you need additional help in building better coping mechanisms for stress.
- Little or no energy.
- Feelings of detachment or numbness toward life.
- Withdrawing from social interaction you once enjoyed.
- Withdrawing from activities and hobbies you once enjoyed.
- Lack of motivation to perform daily tasks.
- Lack of concentration at work or home.
- Overeating or not eating enough.
- Sleeping problems, like insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Experiencing aches and pains that have no known causes.
- Feeling irritable and agitated with friends and family.
- Feeling edgy, moody, or anxious because of perceived or real triggers.
- Escaping more than usual through addictive behaviors.
- Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness.
Since some of these symptoms overlap with the symptoms of depression or anxiety, it’s worth your time to meet with a Christian counselor to rule out any other issues. You can also speak with a counselor to unburden yourself of the stresses you are facing. Your counselor will help you explore and understand them from an objective perspective, so that you may gain clarity on how to approach or manage your stressors.
10 ways to improve mental wellness.
Here are ten simple suggestions of ways you can improve mental wellness.
Creativity engages different parts of your brain than you may normally use in your day-to-day tasks. It recalls the simpler days of childhood when we all drew pictures for pure pleasure and delight.
You can pick whatever medium you like to express yourself, whether it’s drawing, painting, weaving, scrapbooking, crafting, or sewing. You may also enjoy other creative pursuits like cooking, gardening, or acting. Regularly engaging in creative activities will stimulate your brain in exciting ways.
Keep learning and discovering.
Your brain needs to keep learning even after you graduate from high school or college. It is built to learn and grow throughout your lifetime. If it’s been a while since you learned something new, why not sign up for a class? Try something you have never studied before. You can also start reading a new genre of books or binge on a different movie series. Puzzles and games are another good way to keep your brain sharp.
We’ve all heard that we need more exercise. But you may not realize that exercise actually improves your mental wellness. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which produce a natural high. Exercise also promotes the production of serotonin, a mood-regulating hormone. By exercising just thirty minutes per day, even broken into three ten-minute intervals, you’ll help your body flush out toxins and stress hormones, so you’ll have a more relaxed and satisfied feeling throughout the day.
Take care of your body.
Besides exercise, another important part of your mental wellness preservation is taking good care of your body. The mind and body have such a strong connection that you can’t neglect one without making the other suffer. So, whatever you do for your body will also be good for your mind.
When you eat healthy foods like lean protein, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats, your body will thank you. It’s also essential to get quality sleep, which is when your brain processes everything from the previous day. Get into a sleep ritual of calming activities, no caffeine, less screen time, and lower bedroom temperature to up your chances for a good night of sleep.
Meditate on God’s Word.
Meditation has been proven in many studies to lower your blood pressure, boost concentration, and increase your sense of well-being. When you choose Christian meditation, you focus on God’s Word, which has living power.
Set aside a few minutes each day to quietly focus on a verse of Scripture. Ask yourself what God is telling you through the verse about himself, about others, and about how you can live your life for his glory. The more you turn to God’s word in meditation, the greater sense of God’s perfect peace you will experience.
Engage your senses.
Many of us face stress because we are living at breakneck speeds. By slowing down and engaging our senses, we can learn to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures that are right in front of us. For example, you can turn your morning drink into a mindfulness exercise. Use all five senses to engage: think of how it looks, smells, tastes, feels, and sounds.
You can also have mindfulness exercises in nature each day. Spending time in nature has been proven to have the same benefits as meditation. It’s a good way to reconnect with God, who is the maker and sustainer of all things, and you will be encouraged to see his hand at work in his creation.
Observe the Sabbath.
Though observing one day in seven is as old as the Ten Commandments, many Christians struggle to make time for it each week. However, if you develop a rhythm of observing the Sabbath, your mental wellness will be blessed in many ways. Your spirit will be lifted in worship, whether online or in person.
You will learn from the Bible readings and the sermon. At home, you can deliberately rest by taking a nap or simply doing quiet activities. You can spend extra time in prayer or Bible study or spend extra time with family and friends. It is not a requirement that this observation of Sabbath occur on a Sunday, only that it is used as a time of rest, reflection, and replenishment.
When you practice gratitude, you fight off the temptation to grumble and complain, which runs rampant in the larger culture. Simply naming three things for which you are grateful to God can help reorient your point of view toward the positive. Even on days when you aren’t feeling particularly thankful for your circumstances, you can always thank God for his unchanging character. You can also reflect on the ways he has been faithful to you in the past and thank him for those times.
Time with family and friends is essential for mental wellness. We were created to be in relationship with each other because we are created in the image of God. When we cultivate our relationships with family and friends, we will promote our mental Wellness because we will stimulate parts of our brain that respond well to socialization.
Make sure you are connecting with someone every day who will encourage you and lift you up. Whether that is through a phone call, an in-person visit, FaceTime, or Zoom, these personal connections will make you feel better and give you something good to anticipate.
Talk to a professional.
To promote mental wellness, you may need to speak with a professional who can help you in specific areas that you might not be able to work through yourself. A Christian counselor is equipped to help you improve mental wellness in practical ways based on biblical principles. Contact us today to learn how a Christian counselor can help you have the best possible mind, soul, body, and spirit connection.
“Pink Lotus”, Courtesy of Zoltan Tasi, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Orange Flower”, Courtesy of Trevor Gerzen, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Ascend”, Courtesy of Saffu, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Pink Flower”, Courtesy of Aarn Giri, Unsplash.com, CC0 License