The holidays are upon us once again. Parties, family gatherings, shopping, and presents! In other words, we’re supposed to feel happy and festive. However, if you’re dealing with economic difficulties, illness, or you can’t be with friends and family, the holidays may not be such a great time.
Coping with feelings of the “holiday blues” means having the resources and tools to deal with the sadness or anxiety you are feeling. Much like physical health, keeping your mental health in shape requires attention.
This is not about those suffering with mental illness. Mental illness, just like any physical illness, requires the attention of trained professionals to help treat the condition.
We’re talking about the day-to-day routines you can establish to help keep your mental health in shape.Promoting feelings of well-being and the ability to cope when challenges arise in a non-destructive manner. Mental health requires us to take steps to make sure we can live long and healthy lives.
To better understand well-being, I turned to one of the experts in the field, Martin Seligman, author, professor and Executive Director of the Center for Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. In his new book Flourish, Seligman refines his theory of Positive Psychology which suggests that happiness could be analyzed into three different elements that we choose for their own sakes: positive emotion, engagement, and meaning.
Flourish refines that theory and says that while happiness is certainly a part of well-being, happiness alone does not give your life meaning. In the book, Seligman asks, What is it that enables you to cultivate your talents, to build deep, lasting relationships with others, to feel pleasure, and to contribute meaningfully to the world? In a word, what is it that allows you to flourish? “Well-being” is now the end goal and there are five pillars, according to Seligman that contribute to achieving a life of profound fulfillment:
- Happiness (or Positive Emotion)
But, in order to achieve this life, there are two other activities that we can add to the list of what we need to do more of, in order to get our mental health in shape.
Take Care of Yourself: Just like great physical health, mental health requires us to eat better and stay active. Physical and mental health are closely related - if your body feels good, it is much easier to feel good about life in general. And, that doesn't necessarily mean signing up for another gym membership. My next door neighbors moved here from Italy several years ago and they ride their bikes to the grocery store, they take a walk every evening and their amazing garden is the result of a lot of work and care.
Get A Good Night's Sleep: Seriously, if you don't give your brain and body a chance to refresh, you are going to be cranky, depressed and feel terrible. If you feel like you're sleeping but still feeling tired, you may have a physical issue such as sleep apnea. See your doctor and explain your situation. Sleep is a critically important component to having good mental health and unfortunately, we are a nation of insomniacs.
None of us live a life that is free of stress or worry. Keeping your mental health in good shape means you will have better coping mechanisms and can move from existing to well-being.
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