What Does Good Mental Health Look Like To You?

I’d love to thank the lovely Melanie from House 21 for the opportunity to write about this topic. The more we talk about these things, the more normal it becomes. We’re all guilty of putting on a brave face sometimes, but that doesn’t help anyone or solve anything. We’re only human, so why not start acting like it.

So, what does good mental health look like to you? I guess first of all we should look at what mental health ACTUALLY is.

There is sometimes confusion between mental health and mental illness. Just like our physical health, mental health is something that we all have, but not everyone has a mental illness. Someone can have good mental health but have a mental illness, or vice versa.

The term mental health is often used to describe our mental state, how we’re feeling and how we cope with day-to-day life. In the words of Ronan Keating, ‘life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it.’ (Sorry if this song is stuck in your head now). It’s full of highs, lows, twists and straights. By taking care of our mental health, we give ourselves the best foundations to enjoy, withstand and overcome what life throws at us.

It’s made up of an individual’s emotions, thoughts and feelings, ability to solve problems and overcome difficulties, social connections, and understanding of the world around us. They would also have an understanding and to an extent, control of their current mental state. This is on-going throughout our lives.

Mental illness however is exactly that, an illness. Like any other illness, it can come and go, has symptoms that have an impact on a person’s feelings, interactions and behaviour, and requires action to overcome.

People who are mentally healthy are said (helpguide.org) to have:

  • A sense of contentment.
  • A 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.

What people perceive as being ‘good’ will also vary. We all have our own measures that we gage against. I think the common factors that people will agree on are having the ability to be yourself and live in the moment.  

There’s no need to compare to others. We only see snippets of peoples’ lives, and this is the filtered version that they allow others to see. It would be boring if we were all the same.

All aspects of our health are important and should be looked after as best as they can be. The body and mind are intertwined and have a knock on effect on each other. By looking after the one, the other will in turn be more likely to be at its greatest. Great ways to help keeping our minds in great shape include exercise, a good diet, socializing, relaxing as well as striving for fulfilling work life. Which surprise surprise, are also great for our physical health.

It would be unrealistic to expect us and others to be happy 100% of the time. The stresses, trials and tribulations of life can take their toll on us. Good mental health isn’t about feeling good all of the time, but about living, responding and coping well despite this and the emotions that come with it.

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