Mental Health and Wellness Are Personal and Public Health Concerns
Mental health and wellness affect every aspect of our lives: how we think, feel and act. It determines how we handle stress, relate to others and make decisions. It also affects our productivity and earning power at work.
A deficit in mental health directly impacts physical health, and vice versa. So, good physical health improves our mental health, and good mental health improves our ability to get motivated to be physically active.
There are so many factors that contribute to whether we feel stress or not. For many people, life can be pretty stressful. Some people are better equipped than others to handle it, based upon factors such as brain chemistry, past trauma or abuse, and family history of mental health problems.
Even if you’re experiencing mental health problems or illness, you can still successfully tackle any challenges you may be experiencing by keeping the following tips in mind:
Drinking enough water, eating a healthy diet and getting regular cardiovascular exercise are all well-known ways to keep healthy. But one area people tend to neglect: getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is crucial to good mental and physical health because it improves your mood, concentration and productivity throughout your waking hours. We spend one-third of our lives asleep, so we might as well make it a quality and consistent sleep to reap the benefits of rest.
Recommended sleep requirements range between 7 to 9 hours. But it varies from person to person and among different age groups.
Technology at Bedtime
One study of phone usage at night revealed that 71 percent of Americans check their smartphones before bed. If you’re one of those people, you may be interested to know that the blue and white light emitted from electronic devices stops our brains from releasing melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep. Some people take melatonin at night to help them sleep. But your body produces it naturally as well. Think about this before getting on your phone or tablet right before bed. Constant phone usage at night could eventually lead to altering your body’s internal clock.
Too much technology right before bed ultimately decreases your quality of sleep and contributes to varying conditions such as anxiety, depression and heart disease. Another study found that internet use was making people delay sleep by more than 100 minutes a day and causing them to wake up again 90 minutes later.
Depression affects millions of people a year, which can be debilitating in terms of productiveness at home, work and in relationships. The CDC recognizes that depression is a critical public health issue and estimates by 2020, it will be the second most common cause of disability in the world, following only heart disease.
Depression is more than simply having a bad day or feeling blue. Mental illness can negatively impact a person’s paycheck as it can result in absenteeism and unemployment. According to an article on Psychiatry Advisor, the economic burden on people in the U.S. suffering from depression accounted for over $210 billion in 2010.
In the workplace, nobody wants to admit to their boss that they are struggling with depression or any type of mental illness because they worry about getting fired or appearing weak and incapable. Sometimes the employee doesn’t even know they have a problem until they end up sabotaging their job.
The worst part is roughly 85 percent of employees’ mental health conditions go undiagnosed or untreated. Considering we spend most of our waking hours at work, it’s vitally important to not only the employee to get healthy, but to the overall health of the company. The best approach would be to talk to your employer before something disruptive happens.
Stress and competition are a normal part of the work scene. But good management helps employees remember to take care of themselves by creating and encouraging a work-life balance. (We also can’t forget that employees actually have to enjoy their jobs to in order to be successful and happy.)
Some employers have a well-being policy in place to help employees unable to work due to depression or other mental illnesses. At the very least, if you need to take a mental health day, do it.
Other ways to create a work-life balance are up to you. Take several breaks throughout the day, grab coffee with a friend, go work out, turn off the computer at night, and use your vacation time.
Other Ways to Tend to Mental Health and Wellness:
When we have good mental health, we are more equipped to deal with everyday life stressors, bring to fruition our full potential, work more productively, and contribute meaningfully to society. Here are a few other things you can do to help yourself:
- Talk to a counselor to sort through challenges and to give you good coping skills; to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication; or to a doctor who can help with more natural and holistic remedies.
- Stay connected with family and friends, even if it’s hard to reach out to them.
- Get at least 30 minutes of cardio every day.
- Take some time to meditate or sit quietly alone without any distractions.
- Volunteer your time to people who need your help or who are less fortunate than you.
As early as 1948, the World Health Organization said that health and wellness isn’t merely about the absence of disease and stress, but a state of “complete physical, mental and social well being.” Maybe the WHO was ahead of its time. With all the knowledge we have today, we know how to better address our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
About the Author
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.