by Dimakatso Komape
Being mentally healthy and living well is important to every single one of us- whether we are living with a mental illness or not. Some might even ask- What is mental health? Well good mental health and wellbeing mean different things to different people and every person has to find their own way to a life that is meaningful and satisfying to them. So the simple definition of mental health is a positive concept related to the social and emotional wellbeing of individuals and communities.
Having good mental health, or being mentally healthy, is more than just the absence of illness; rather it’s a state of overall wellbeing. This concept generally relates to:
• The enjoyment of life
• Having the ability to cope with and ‘bounce back’ from stress and sadness
• Being able to set and fulfil goals
• Having the capability to build and maintain relationships with others
Mental health is influenced by several biological, psychological, social and environmental factors which interact in complex ways. Now we all know that if we want to see a plant grow we need to keep watering it and putting it out to get fresh air and sunlight. To see a bank balance grow, we need to make consistent deposits. But how often do we take time to reflect on whether we are giving ourselves what we need to flourish and live well?
It can be so easy for us to take our mental health for granted; to prioritise other things; to put it off until next week. It can also seem too big and too hard. But honestly, it’s not. There are so many easy things that people can do. The following are five tips to get you started
Connect– connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours. Spend time developing and nurturing these relationships. For others, this might be a spiritual connection. Our connection to others is what builds us up and keeps us strong as they might relate to some of the situations in our lives.
Be active– you don’t have to go to the gym (unless that works for you). Take a walk, go cycling or do some yoga. Find something active that you enjoy doing and make that part of your life. Our physical and mental health is closely linked to doing something active every day can make you feel better and do better.
Keep learning– learning new skills can give us a sense of accomplishment and newfound confidence. So why not sign up for a cooking course, start learning a new language, or finally learn how to play the guitar? It is never too late to learn something new. This will keep you busy and keep you in your happy place.
Give to others-even the smallest act can count whether it is a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Being giving of your time and energy, money, knowledge without asking for anything in return could make you feel a sense of peace and help you build healthy relationships with others
Be mindful-be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feeling, your body and the world around you. Live in the moment. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.
I hope the tips help you live a better and more fulfilling life.