So much has happened last 2020, and this year hasn’t been giving us much of a break either. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the physical health, mental health, safety, employment, and overall well-being of people. Some have even lost their loved ones due to the virus. The adversities that each individual has experienced during this pandemic have clearly taken a toll on their mental health. The number of those who were diagnosed with depression tripled in 2020. Coping with these adversities during the pandemic has been more challenging since access to therapy and the resources for it has been more difficult to come by.
It is critical for us to understand the importance of our mental health and how we can take care of it. Reading on, this article will help you learn more about what mental health is and why it is important, what affects your mental health, and how you can take care of your mental health.
What is Mental Health and Why is it Important?
Mental health refers to an individual’s psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Our mental health impacts the way we think, feel and act. It also influences the way we cope, responds to stress, relate to others, and the way we make choices – big or small. From childhood, adolescence, and through adulthood, it is important to develop healthy mental well-being.
Caring for your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health. When we get a fever or feel unwell, we go to the doctor to find out what medicine we should take, how much rest we need, and other steps that are necessary for us to recover. We should give the same attention and importance to our mental wellness.
It is common for an individual to experience poor mental health and it does not necessarily mean that he/she has a mental illness. We may experience poor mental health when we do not address the things that bother us, that hurt us, and when we do not allow ourselves to feel our feelings for a significant period of time. Having poor mental health can affect our physical health as well, especially if an individual develops a mental health illness. This is just one of the many reasons why caring for our mental well-being should be given absolute importance.
What Affects Our Mental Health?
There are many factors that impact our mental health. From childhood experiences, relationships, the environment we grew up in, our culture, the state of our country and the world, and so many other things. To understand some of them better, here are several factors that affect our mental health:
- Upbringing – This includes the beliefs, values, and attitudes instilled in us by our parents, our relationship with our family members, and the experiences in our childhood that have influenced us to this day.
- Life Experiences – Our life experiences from when we were children, teenagers, and adults greatly influence our mental health. Experiencing grief, loss, failure, trauma, as well as achievements, memorable moments, and joyful events as well.
- Physical Health – Our physical well-being also impacts our mental health, especially if an individual has experienced serious health issues at any point in his/her life.
- Sense of Security – This is how safe and secure we feel with where we are in life, the community we belong to, our work, where we live in, and even the state of our country and the world. This is why the situation during this COVID19 pandemic has greatly affected our mental well-being since it compromises not only our physical health, but also our work, our lifestyle, and our social interactions, to name a few.
- Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence – These usually go hand in hand. Our self-esteem is the value we place on ourselves. It is being able to know your worth and having a positive self-image. On the other hand, self-confidence is our attitude and belief in ourselves and in what we can do. Accepting and trusting our skills and abilities and being less doubtful about them shows a great sense of self-confidence.
How Can You Take Beter Care of Your Mental Health?
Our mental and physical health are both important factors in our overall well-being. Given the many factors that affect our mental health, it is important for us to be informed of the different ways we can take care of it. Here are some ways you can take care of your mental health going forward:
- Talk about your feelings with people you trust.
- Exercise regularly and have a balanced diet.
- Take a break and rest to avoid burnout.
- Explore different interests and hobbies you enjoy.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Taking care of your mental health should be a priority and not something you do only when you feel it declining. Remember to give it importance and to follow the best practices that can help you develop healthy mental well-being.