What is Mental Health?

sportive woman with bicycle resting on countryside road in sunlight

A way to think about mental health is “wellness.” Simply it is having a routine of “wellness.” Wellness is both the foundation and the dynamic practice or routine of living well. Specifically:

  • Eating well,
  • Sleeping well,
  • Getting good physical exercise,
  • Having a good supporting network of relationships and friends,
  • Doing your passions,
  • Keeping your self curious and learning new things,
  • Having a sense of meaning and purpose and
  • Taking care of your spiritual needs, however, you see fit. This could be going to church, or fly-fishing. It’s a space and time where you can ponder the larger questions of life.

What has always been odd is that when we refer to mental health; it is often about mental illness. Before we dive in to this rabbit hole, “know that you don’t have to be sick to get better.”

Know is that mental health and mental illness are two ends of a spectrum. Where one ends up on the spectrum often involves many dynamic and fluid factors. On one hand, as mentioned above, the wellness routine are factors that influence our ability to live well today, this week, this month, this year and in this lifetime. The wellness routine are the positive or supportive factors for living well. At the other end are the negative or detrimental factors that result in a burdensome life. These detrimental factors are basically the opposite of the wellness routine. Eating poorly, sleeping poorly, not getting exercise, not having friends or supports or spending time with folks that interfere, dissuade or lead you astray, not having and not pursuing your passions, loves or joys, not challenging yourself or being curious to learn something new and not wondering or aspiring to finding meaning and purpose in your life. These negative or detrimental factors result in a life that is uninspired, insignificant or a life of ongoing chaos.

Sometimes people feel, think and are lonely, lost and hopeless; but it can also be an opportunity to change. Which is the idea of “breakdown to breakthrough.” The process of breakdown, is also the process of breaking open. And the opening up can be viewed as opening up to other opportunities or insights. The process of breaking down can be scary because it is the breakup or decomposition of what is known. However if breakdown is understood and expected as a part of renewal, rebirth and new growth or progression. Then breakdown can be a liberating and inspiring opportunity for new growth and adventure. If a person were having a bad day, being irrational and desperate, it might be a fortunate opportunity.

Having a good wellness routine is the epitome of health. It also is the foundation of resilience. Sometimes we hit a bump in the road. Perhaps it’s a minor car accident and we get banged a bit. But in a few days or a week or two we are back to doing most of our wellness items and we expect to be back to our routine in a few weeks. … GREAT. But what if, in an accident, we break a leg and are in a cast for 3 months, have to take substantial pain medications, will be unable to return to work for 6 months and likely have to sit out next season of skiing. An incident such as this can really knock us off our beloved routine. There is a potential for a downward spiral. Not sleeping well, not feeling well, not being able to walk the dog, not hanging out seeing friends and having difficulty doing our hobbies. Some folks end up stewing in their own juices. It can be difficult to figure out and adjust to a new wellness routine with a broken leg. Maybe the recovery is a great time to catch up on some reading and later to get back in the swimming pool for some low-impact rehab of strength and conditioning.

Just know that we are constantly making adjustments to our wellness routine. Sometimes we discover a seemingly little thing that can make or break our routine. Change is constant and change happens. When we are chased all over hell by our fears, demons and anxieties … we just run amok all over hell. A good rule of thumb is to chase your dreams, passions and joys. When you chase these, then your decisions, actions and behaviors are aligned and going in the same direction.

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Published by Love Change Grow LLC

Counselor and crisis consultant of 25 years. Providing education about how to navigate change.

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