Your mental health influences how you think, feel, and behave in daily life. It also affects your ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from life’s setbacks and hardships.
Strong mental health isn’t just the absence of mental health problems. Being mentally or emotionally healthy is much more than being free of depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics.
People who are mentally healthy have
A sense of contentmentA zest for living and the ability to laugh and have fun.The ability to deal with stress and bounce back from adversity.A sense of meaning and purpose, in both their activities and their relationships.The flexibility to learn new skills and adapt to change.A balance between work and play, rest and activity, etc.The ability to build and maintain fulfilling relationships.Self-confidence and high self-esteem.
Anyone can suffer from mental or emotional health problems—and over a lifetime most of us will. This year alone, about one in five of us will suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder. Yet, despite how common mental health problems are, many of us make no effort to improve our situation.
We ignore the emotional messages that tell us something is wrong and try toughing it out by distracting ourselves or self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or self-destructive behaviors. We bottle up our problems in the hope that others won’t notice. We hope that our situation will eventually improve on its own. Or we simply give up—telling ourselves this is “just the way we are.”
The good news is: you don’t have to feel bad. There are practices you can adopt to elevate your mood, become more resilient, and enjoy life more. But just as it requires effort to build and maintain physical health, so it is with mental health. We have to work harder these days to ensure strong mental health, simply because there are so many ways that life takes a toll on our emotional well-being.
Make social connection a priority—especially face-to-face
Staying active is as good for the brain as it is for the body
Eat a brain-healthy diet to support strong mental health
Don’t skimp on sleep—it matters more than you think