This week (April 2-8) is National Public Health Week! We wanted to share some information to raise awareness around the importance of mental health in addition to physical health! Here are 5 great reasons to be proactive about taking care of your mental health:
1. Being aware of our mental health helps us “check in” with ourselves
We are so adaptive that we can become accustomed to suffering! We quickly lose track of how difficult things actually are and how better we can feel than our current state. Many of our clients don’t realize how bad things had become until they start to feel better, and then they can’t believe how long they tolerated the way they were experiencing life before. Knowing that we can’t see things clearly until we address what is going on and, only then, may realize how important it was that we took our mental health seriously – this is definitely an important reason to prioritize caring for ourselves.
2. Focus on prevention, not intervention
Many leading mental health issues tend to get worse if they are not treated. Depression, for instance, makes many people want to isolate themselves and they lose the energy and desire to do the things that fight depression (such as exercising, being in the early morning sunlight, and connecting with others). It can also lead to behavior that exacerbates depression and causes a host of other problems, such as coping through drugs, overeating, or alcohol. Similarly, anxiety is often a defense against feelings that builds without intervention. People often become anxious about their anxiety, which leads to more anxiety. In addition, if particular places or situations have led to high anxiety or panic attacks, our association between those places or situations and anxiety makes it more likely to have a similar experience the next time. Essentially, mental health needs attention and care to return to our highest functioning and joy.
3. Seeking nurturance from others helps us thrive!
Unfortunately, for many issues we face we often can’t help ourselves. Even therapists (perhaps especially therapists!) have to be proactive about our mental health and receive help from others. We just can’t solve all of our own issues or be our own therapist. People need an outside perspective and loving attention. With the right care, people are incredibly naturally resiliant and our brains can do most of the work without conscious effort, but we need to provide our psyches the resources and understanding they need to integrate and evolve to more complexity and ease, otherwise we get stuck. In addition, our nervous systems are most easily regulated by another person. We need to seek help from others proactively to live our potential.
4. Our mental health state affects everyone around us
Our mental health affects of kids, friendships, and love relationships. Though there are many obvious examples of our mental state affecting others, such as unmanaged or chronic anger leading to yelling at our children and them developing their own anger issues, anxiety disorders, and low self-esteem, there are also more subtle ways mental health affects our relationships. Many lose jobs because of subtle ways they make others feel bad at work or because their inner critic, depression or lack of motivation causes them to miss deadlines. A parent’s depression may lead to not being “behind their eyes” when kids look at them to find approval there. This, and/or the parent not feeling good about themselves even if they love the children and don’t give them any direct feedback that they aren’t enough, can lead to kids feeling unworthy. Anxiety can lead to being controlling, inauthentic, or just not emotionally available, making our romantic partner feel irritated or alone.
5. We deserve to be happy!
You may not feel deserving, but all people deserve to enjoy this life to the best of our ability. Our happiness brings more happiness to the planet and lifts others’ spirits, so what is good for you is good for others as well. Why not live the most radiant and peaceful version of yourself?
If you liked this post, please share it on social media! Let’s take some time this week to really take care of ourselves and our loved ones.