Main image courtesy of Unicity Healthcare.
When it comes to conversations about health, most people tend to focus on aspects of physical health, often forgetting about or neglecting mental health. However, it’s crucial to understand that your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and your actions and behaviors should reflect that.
This year, World Health Day is on April 7th. It’s sponsored by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other related organizations, and its goal is to spread awareness about different aspects of health and wellbeing. The first World Health Assembly was held in 1948, and each year’s World Health Day has a different theme. This year’s theme focuses on the interconnectedness between our planet and our health.
Read on to find out about how you can make mental health a part of your World Health Day celebration.
What exactly is mental health?
Although the term is tossed around a lot, many people may not know what exactly mental health is about. Mental health encompasses our emotional and psychological wellbeing. It’s influenced by biological factors, such as genes, as well as life experiences such as traumatic events.
There are clear connections between mental and physical health, with depression increasing the risk of physical health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Likewise, chronic conditions can increase the risk of mental health problems.
Mental health problems are common, so if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. More than 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder in their lifetime, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year, and 1 in 25 live with a serious mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder.
Factors such as gender, age, education, socioeconomic status, sexuality, ethnicity, and more can make someone more or less susceptible to developing a mental illness in their lifetime. People from marginalized backgrounds tend to be more likely to have a mental illness, but are less likely to receive proper treatment for it due to a lack of resources or inaccessibility of care.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness. Some examples of anxiety disorders are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Phobias such as social anxiety (social phobia) or agoraphobia
There are also mood disorders. These include:
- Major depression
- Bipolar disorder
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Other forms of mental illnesses are schizophrenia or personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) or dependent personality disorder (DPD).
How can you take care of your mental health?
It turns out, a lot of the things that you’re supposed to do to take care of your physical health are actually beneficial for your mental health as well! Because the two are often so closely linked to each other, taking care of your body as a whole can work wonders for your physical and mental health.
Here are some ways that you can take care of your mental health:
Meditation is one of those things that is beneficial for almost everything! Meditation can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, which is especially essential in the hustle-bustle of everyday life. It can also help you practice mindfulness, being present in the moment, and learn how to declutter and clear your mind. Because most of us are thinking almost non-stop, taking a break to sit back and just breathe can be wonderful for your mental health. It can also help reduce your blood pressure and help relieve chronic pain.
If you want to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, don’t be afraid to start small. Aim to meditate for just 5 minutes in the morning before work or right before bed, and work your way upwards from there. You can also use guided meditation videos, podcasts, or apps to help you through!
Although most people seem to view exercise as something that’s good for their physical health, exercising regularly is also great for your mental health and wellbeing! Exercise can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce tension, anxiety, and stress, improve your memory and focus, help you get better quality sleep, and have more energy.
Exercising doesn’t have to be anything major or dramatic. You don’t have to force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do! If you hate running, don’t sentence yourself to a mile run every evening. Instead, do something that’s more tolerable for you, like 30 minutes of a hip-hop dance routine you love, or some Zumba. Even going on a walk is a great way to get your heart pumping and your blood flowing!
- Rest when needed
If you’re feeling burnt out, like a lot of people are, that’s entirely understandable. Our lives were turned upside down because of the pandemic, and it might take a while to adjust to this new normal. However, that doesn’t mean that you should constantly feel tired, burnt out, or drained. Take some time out of your day to just close your eyes and take some deep breaths, or take a quick walk around your workplace/home/wherever you may be. Don’t expect yourself to be able to do everything without any breaks in between. You’re human, and you deserve to rest and relax!
This World Health Day, take some time to reflect on your health practices and how they influence your life. Remember, physical and mental health are directly linked to each other, and by taking care of yourself, you’re benefiting your body as a whole!