Mental health (noun):
“A person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.”
When you think of mental health, what is the first thing to come to mind? I always seem to think of how a person is feeling emotionally — are they healthy on the “inside,” or do they have healthy thoughts?
How you feel mentally and emotionally greatly impacts how you take care of yourself on the “outside.” Meaning, if you have a positive mindset, you are more capable of creating healthy workout and eating habits. This is a prime example of the “mind-body connection.”
There have been various studies done that show the link of poor mental health and how it affects your physical health. Depression has been linked to heart disease and cancer (67% increased risk and 50% increased risk, respectively).
When I was in college, I took an extremely interesting neuroscience class. I learned about how your brain is constantly forming and re-forming based on your habits and the choices you make. This is called neuroplasticity. This refers to the brain’s ability to restructure itself after training or practice. In many ways, this is also what makes personal growth and development possible at its most basic level. Because change IS possible, you can focus on the ways in which you’d like to grow instead of whether or not it’s achievable for you.
How do we encourage and achieve good mental health? There are things that I do to help combat negativity and that promote a positive mindset. These things help increase my psychological and emotional health…and you’ll see how my mind and body are connected as you read through the list:
- Physical activity – I try to do some sort of physical activity daily. This isn’t always easy when I have 2 kiddos to take care of, but I try to make it work. I absolutely LOVE CrossFit, but also weight lifting in general (squats, deadlifts, military press). I enjoy yoga as well, and used to be SUPER into it, so I’m looking forward to getting back into that now. So far, that’s happening 1-2x per week.
- Well-balanced diet – I try to eat healthy most of the time. I enjoy making healthy food for myself because I know when I feel healthy on the INSIDE, it shows on the OUTSIDE. Knowing I made a super healthy smoothie for lunch impacts my food choices for the remainder of the day. (Don’t let that fool you — I LOVE COOKIES, and don’t hesitate when I’m offered one!)
- Mantras – Some associate these with yoga, but these can be anything you choose and they don’t have to deal with yoga AT ALL. When you wake up in the morning before a big test, look at yourself in the mirror and say “You can do this!” Repeat it, over and over. THAT is a mantra. This could also be a Bible verse. I know I repeated one over and over again when I was in labor (Isaiah 41:10). It brought me a sense of peace and calm, and put me in a positive mindset.
- Look for the good – I choose to look for the good instead of the bad, and sometimes even look for the good IN the bad. If my son is acting up, I could really get upset with him and yell. Instead, I choose to use it as a learning experience and a good time to teach him how to behave. And after he sits in time out for a while and looks at me and says “Sorry mommy” …nothing beats that 🙂 I know he’s learning: learning how to apologize, how to be polite, how what he did wasn’t good and he knows he needs to say he’s sorry for acting out. There is so much bad nowadays that if you really focused on it, you could become depressed and sad. So while I don’t ignore the bad, I just choose to acknowledge it and move forward with focusing on something more positive (like my cute kiddos!).
- Decide to be happy – This goes with the previous one. You have a decision to make every morning. Will it be a good day? Or will it be a bad one? Do you want to be sad? Upset? Let the little things get you down? Or do you want to be happy? Choose to see the good? I try to always make the decision…no matter how early I get up…to be HAPPY. I know sometimes my kids may get me up waaaaaaaaaay to early for my liking, but I can choose to be upset about it, or savor the moments. They are fleeting. One day, I won’t have my children in my home anymore and they will be living with their own families in their own homes. One day, they won’t need me to help them get dressed in the mornings or to make them their waffles or give them a bottle. I try to do it all with a smile on my face. I am so thankful and blessed to be their mama, so they deserve my happiness 🙂
If you ever feel down and out, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for help. I’m no doctor, but this list I created for you is something you can try if you feel like you need a mental health boost. Life can change with a positive mindset. Wake up. Choose happiness. Exude positivity.
Much love and happiness – C.P.