By Barbara Floria, Pure Matters
How is your mental health? Have you ever wondered if it’s as good as it could be? Or what you could do to improve or strengthen it?
If not, you may be surprised to learn there’s a lot you can do to attain and maintain good mental equilibrium.
“Most Americans are eager to optimize their physical health but tend to ignore the state of their mental well-being, which is unfortunate because there’s much that can be done to maintain mental health,” says Alan Keck, Psy.D., a psychologist in Altamonte Springs, Fla., and a spokesman for the Florida Psychological Association.
Mental health depends on many factors, some of them beyond a person’s control.
“Even so, a mentally healthy person demonstrates resilience in the face of adversity,” Dr. Keck says. “And being proactive by taking steps to support your mental and emotional health can help you maintain it even in times of duress.”
Maintain balance in your life
“The demands created by 24/7 e-mail and cell phone calls aren’t conducive to good mental health or family life,” Dr. Keck says. “It’s important at some point in the day to disconnect from your electronic gadgets and be in the moment.”
Of course, work is important, but by respecting your personal time and creating boundaries between work and home, you create a richer life experience and a place to retreat.
Connect with others
Keep the lines of communication open and maintain good relationships with loved ones. Talk to them about your challenges, and listen to what they have to say.
Stay physically healthy
Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, and don’t abuse alcohol or illegal and prescription drugs.
“The mind and body aren’t separate and are inextricably linked,” Dr. Keck says. Poor physical health can impair mental health -- and mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, can affect physical health.
Take time off
In addition to being fun, vacations that disengage you from work and your day-to-day stressors are important in maintaining mental stability.
Manage the stress in your life
There’s no way to remove all the difficulties you face, but you can respond proactively.
“Decades of research have confirmed that people who have a daily routine to help them decompress are healthier mentally and physically than those who don’t,” Dr. Keck says. “For many Americans, taking 15 to 20 minutes once a day to meditate and clear their minds of worries and distractions is an effective and practical way to deal with pressure.”