How many miles did you run this week? Or maybe you practiced yoga, or took a walk on the beach. How important do you make your exercise? Many of us tend to make exercise a priority in our lives, and even if we do not, we think about it and know the importance of it.
Yet, how often do we think about how important our mental health is? Do you set time aside daily for your mental health? Do you come up with a plan and stick to it? Most people do not make mental health – or mental fitness – a priority, yet what is more important than our mental health?
But what exactly does mental health mean?
There is a biological set point that we are born with for our mental health. Our brain has a lot of neuroplasticity. What this means is we are able to change this set point. Our brain is very moldable. Studies have shown that the more we focus on good mental health the more our brain becomes rewired to incorporate it as our new norm.
What is wonderful is that our mind responds so well to simple ways of being in the world.
Here is my prescription for great mental health.
Be kind and compassionate towards yourself and others.
- Know when to say no—have healthy boundaries.
- Take risks, step out of the box to do things that have meaning to you.
- Do not compare yourself to anyone; it has no benefit.
- Learn from what does not work rather than judging yourself.
- Slow down and live in the moment (80 percent of your energy should be in the now, 10 percent learning from the past and 10 percent setting goals for the future).
- Always do your best, and get rid of the idea of perfectionism.
- Spend time outside everyday.
- Believe in something bigger than yourself.
- Have time with no distractions of technology daily.
- Do something that keeps the mind and body active daily.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People generally want to help.
- Make relationships a priority. They are why we are here.
- Give back to others in whatever ways you can.
- Find what you are passionate about and spend time doing it everyday.
- Rest well.
- Learn something new every day.
- Do not personalize what others do or say.
- Let go of people and things that do not work for you.
- Grieve and accept your losses, do not get stuck in them.
I know this is a lot to hold, so take a few of these ideas at a time and focus on them until they are part of who you are. I write out what I want to be different and read it daily—it helps me in making the changes.
Really look at this list. Each one of these traits can have a tremendous impact on your life.
As Louise Hay, a well known author and speaker on healing the self, says, “I do not fix problems. I fix my thinking. Then problems fix themselves.”
Problems are going to exist, they just are part of being human, but it is the way we look at the problems that determine the outcome.
Good mental health allows us to manage these challenges in life. So next time you want to exercise your body, do not forget to also exercise your mind.
Reach Dr. Shelly Zavala at DrZavala.com of [email protected]