What does it mean to be healthy?
For some people, health means having a strong body, free of disease. Others may consider a creative mind to be a strong indicator of health. Still others may think the greatest determinant is a happy, fulfilling life.
Whatever your definition, most people agree that “health” has a mental component. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.”
WHO has chosen to highlight mental health for the 2017 World Health Day – which is today.
The goal this year is to assist those with depression in getting help, and to educate others on what it means to live with depression.
Depression can be debilitating and impair one’s ability to carry out even the simplest tasks. It can affect anyone, and in its worst form, can lead to suicide. The good news is that depression is preventable and treatable. Treatment often involves talking to someone and finding techniques to manage stress.
At the nonprofit Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, we believe that your state of mental health has strong implications for your physical health, and vice versa. There are some simple things you can do to better manage your mental health. These suggestions are not a substitute for clinical assistance, but they may help you feel less overwhelmed and better able to cope with stress.
Being physically active is vital to maintaining strong mental health
Did you know that walking 30 minutes each day helps to boost your creativity and productivity? It drives cognitive function and helps promote the activity of several mood-related hormones. Exercise also has a positive influence on metabolism. So go ahead, talk a walk or sign up for a fun dance class. You’ll be doing your mind and body a favor!
A healthy diet will give your body the nutrients it needs to help you effectively cope with challenges
Some mental health issues can be intensified by nutrient deficiencies. Start your day off right with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins for a positive mindset.
Take a moment for yourself
Yes, we all have busy schedules to keep up with! But we’re telling you it’s alright to sit with a cup of tea for a few minutes, or meditate, or just sit outside and feel the sunshine on your skin. Or revive an old hobby, or try out something new! Who knows? You have never realized that you are an amazing chess player or a gifted fiction writer. It’s worth exploring your interests and talents.
We want you to understand that you are not spoiling yourself or mixing up priorities by taking care of yourself. Indeed, if you do not care for yourself, how can you take care of anything else?
Do just one thing today to care for yourself. Then, do it again tomorrow!
Sometimes we need to consult an expert to manage our mental health. This is absolutely encouraged, and there are many local services available. Here are a few options:
If you feel you cannot reach out to a trained therapist, then start by talking to a friend. Depression can be treated, and it starts with that small first step.
Sarah K. Martin is environmental health promotion specialist with the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo. If you are interested in the mission of promoting community health, contact the institute at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call the office at 716-851-4052.
Find the website for the WHO Mental Health Page here.