Have you heard?
January is Mental Wellness Month! I can’t imagine a healthier way to begin the new year. And It’s important to remember that, even though the end of the month is near, awareness of our mental wellness doesn’t end January 31st, especially since it encompasses everything we do. We need to tend to our mental wellness throughout the year. To give us an idea just how encompassing our mental wellness is, let’s look at a definition of mental health. According to the World Health Organization, “Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (World Health Organization [WHO], 2014). As you can see, our mental wellness touches on every aspect of our lives.
How do I care for my mental wellness?
I don’t know about you, but for myself, since mental wellness is all encompassing, it can be easy to forget about my mental well-being. As a wife, mother, grandmother, etc., I find that the last thing I usually think about is my mental well-being despite the importance that I do. It’s hard enough to find time for myself let alone take the time to think about my mental health. However, I realize that if I’m going to continue to effectively care for my loved ones, and fulfill my responsibilities, then awareness and care of my mental wellness is a must. How do I care for my mental wellness? Below are a few examples:
- I try and take a quick daily mental inventory: Each day, I try to intentionally spend a few moments taking note of what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. Self awareness helps me adjust and make changes to whatever challenges lie ahead throughout the day.
- I exercise: I’ve had a health issue so I’ve gotten away from my daily walks, but I’m starting my walks again.
- I get plenty of sleep: This has taken persistence on my part. I live with chronic insomnia. It took me awhile, but I finally found the courage to talk to my doctor about it, and she’s been very helpful. We’ve finally found, after several trials of different medications, that Ambien helps. Reducing my caffeine intake helps as well.
- I communicate with others: I talk to my spouse about how I’m feeling, especially if I’m not feeing well. I’ve discovered that talking to someone that you trust can help. It provides us an opportunity to problem solve together.
What do you do to care for and strengthen your mental wellness? If you’d like more ideas about how to care for your mental wellness, check out Mental Health America’s Ten Tools to help you feel stronger. I especially like #8 – Take care of your spirit.
Are we getting the message out?
As you can see, mental wellness is vitally important. Interestingly enough, in spite of how important tending to our mental wellness is, I wonder whether or not we are getting the message out to the public and to employers to name a few. I discovered something that surprised me. Last Friday, when I shared with my daughter Kim that it is Mental Wellness Month, she said, “Wait. Now what is it?” After I shared again with her what month it is, she said, “I didn’t know that!” Without knowing it, she brought up an extremely important point, and that is, even though there are those trying to bring about awareness pertaining to our mental wellness, it seems that many are not getting the message. To my surprise, when I did a Google search of the words “mental wellness,” none of the top mental health organizations that I’m familiar with like NAMI and DBSA came up. However, when I typed in the words “mental illness” several organizations came up such as NAMI, Mayo Clinic, Web MD and other organizations as well. This is interesting to me. Shouldn’t these prominent organizations come up when I type in “mental wellness?” I also discovered something else. Many of the sites that I looked at had outdated material as well. This is an interesting discovery and one that I thought that I’d share with you. For now, the focus of this blog post is mental wellness so I’ll revisit my findings another day. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn about the history of Mental Wellness Month and learn more about caring for your mental wellness, check out Sovereign Health‘s article “January is Mental Wellness Month.” And if you haven’t thought about it before, I do hope that you tend to your mental wellness. May we all have a great and healthy week!
World Health Organization. (2014). Mental health-strengthening our response (Fact sheet No. 220). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs220/en/