Thank you for tuning into the fourth installment of my wellness series! There will be one final part after this one, in which I will be writing about the importance of social wellness, and how you can make small changes to improve it in your own life!
Mental Wellness And You
As defined by the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Mental health can be impacted, positively or negatively, by a number of factors, both internal and external, both nature and nurture. While we can’t control or avoid many of these factors, there are things we can do to help ourselves handle stressors in our lives a little easier. So! Let’s discuss some of these strategies.
First, mindfulness. We all hear this word a lot when speaking about mental health, but what is mindfulness? In a nutshell, simply learning to stay in the moment and accept things how they are. Practicing mindfulness has a number of advantages to your own mental health. Studies have shown that it is beneficial to not only your physical health, but also enhances memory skills, attention skills, and reduces anxiety, stress, and depression. So, how do you practice mindfulness? There are many strategies to begin, and you can find youtube videos that will help guide you through the process. Here is a guided exercise you can practice, the recommended amount is once daily. The more you practice, the better you become, and the more benefits it will have to you.
Here are some key components to practicing mindfulness:
- Pay attention to your breathing, staying in control and aware.
- Notice and acknowledge what you’re sensing in your situation, the sights, sounds, and smells.
- Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are valid but temporary, and do not define who you are.
- Pay attention to your body’s physical sensations, everything your body is feeling
- Make time to practice mindfulness in small throughout the day
What else is there? Well, something I know many teenagers struggle with, including myself, is putting ourselves into positive environments. It’s very easy to get caught in your emotions, shut people out, and hole up in our beds listening to sad music. But while feeling your feelings is important, pushing yourself further into your hole by surrounding yourself with negative emotions and energies won’t help your mood lift. Surrounding yourself with positive people who you can have fun with, but also will support you will help you in the long run. Even something as small as opening your curtains to let some sun in, or if you’re up to it, even sitting outside, reading a book. Now that we’re into the warmer months, getting outside can be incredibly helpful. Just remember to wear sunscreen! Sometimes I find myself feeling bad for days on end, and I realize that I’ve been doing nothing to change it. So I get up, open my curtains, clean my room, and drink a bottle of water. While it doesn’t solve all my problems, it definitely doesn’t hurt. Many people find changing things up in their personal space can help them feel better. Maybe rearranging your room, redecorating, changing up your phone case, or even changing your lock screen could help lift your mood.
And speaking of getting outside, physical well being is directly linked to mental well being. It’s difficult to be healthy mentally when you are not physically healthy. As I outlined in my physical wellness post, choosing healthy foods, drinking water, and getting active is key to staying healthy. Not only does this improve your physical health, but improves your mental health as well. Research has shown that neurotransmitters responsible for feeling good, are directly affected by things such as your digestive tract. I always find when I eat better, I feel better, and after I find myself inside after going to a walk, or after lacrosse practice, I’m in a lighter mood. Other studies have shown that reducing sugar, fried food, and alcohol consumption can improve symptoms of depression.
Finally, something often overlooked is self-compassion. Learning to forgive yourself is an invaluable skill. Many people criticize themselves when they make mistakes, or fail to reach a goal. Never demand perfection or set standards for yourself that you wouldn’t set for anyone else. We all have flaws and imperfections, don’t beat yourself up because you’re human. Encourage yourself, and when you don’t have the outcome you want, look towards the future instead of dwelling on what could have been. We can’t do anything to change the past, but the future is in our hands. Pay attention to when you’re using self-hating language, and when you catch yourself, ask yourself if you would say those words to a child. If the answer is no, think about how you can change that thought into a self-loving one. Being kind to yourself is an imperative part of your overall wellbeing. Self-love is so powerful, and I hope you all find it.
Thank you so much for reading this weeks wellness blog! I hope you found it useful. Stay tuned for the final installment next week, and upcoming posts on the NTS Drama Festival, and my platform!
Til Next Time