Mental health encompasses many aspects of our lives, including our emotional, psychological and social well-being.
When our mental health is good, we make healthy decisions, cultivate positive relationships and have the ability to weather challenges.
When we are experiencing imbalances in our mental health, the opposite is true.
Mental health disorders can cause problems in our professional and personal lives and lead us to exhibit destructive behaviors.
It’s important that we pay close attention to the symptoms we’re experiencing and, as psychologist Guy Winch put it in his iconic TedTalk, “practice emotional first aid.” In his talk, Winch emphasizes the importance of caring for our mental health they way we care for our physical health.
In fact, the risks we face when we ignore our mental health issues can range from mild to life-threatening. Imbalances can affect us in a variety of areas including:
- Diet (eating too much or not enough)
- Mood (numb, hopeless, depressed, sad, lonely, excessively elated, irritable or anxious)
- Sleep (getting too much sleep or not being able to sleep enough)
- Addictions (drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected and promiscuous sex)
- Inability to perform simple day-to-day activities such as cleaning the house or going to work.
- Having frequent conflict with family, friends and work colleagues.
- Thinking of harming yourself or others.
It is estimated that a full 26% of American adults suffer from mental health disorders. Though many people suffer from mental health issues, unfortunately, these issues are still highly stigmatized, and many people feel ashamed or afraid to reach out for help.
When dealing with mental health issues, it’s important to seek the advice of a professional psychiatrist or psychologist for a diagnosis to get the help and guidance you need.
There are many categories of mental health disorders and a professional will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis. Here are a few diagnosable disorders:
Depression – feeling overwhelmed by sadness that persists for two weeks or more, having recurring negative thoughts, unplanned diet and sleep changes. Bipolar disorder – Extreme mood swings that disrupt one’s ability to maintain a stable work or personal life, characterized by unusually fast speech, agitation, high energy and loss of sleep. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)- Depressive symptoms due to lack of exposure to light in the winter that usually alleviate during spring. Postnatal depression- Changes in hormones, loss of sleep and the demands of parenting a newborn can result in depression in women. Men can also experience depression due to the changing dynamics in their relationship and their role in the family. Anxiety – Excessive worry with little or no realistic cause. Panic disorder – Sudden intense fear that causes sweating, chest pain, pounding heart or blocked airways. Obsessive compulsive disorder – Repeated unwanted thoughts or sensations or the urge to repeat something over and over (like washing your hands several times in a row after touching something dirty or checking the locks several times before leaving home). Social phobia or social anxiety disorder (SAD)- Extreme fear and stress caused by social interactions such as going to parties, dating, going to school or work or making eye contact with others.
The good news is that as more people are being diagnosed with mental health disorders, mental health services and treatments have improved and there is more support for those suffering from mental health issues than ever before.
In addition to any treatments recommended by your psychiatrist or psychologist, developing positive habits and cultivating a support system and healthy lifestyle are factors that can contribute to maintaining good mental health.
Whether you have a diagnosed mental health disorder or are experiencing a temporary mental health issue due to life circumstances or challenges, there are practices and habits you can adopt to support you through this time.
Many of us have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in a variety of ways, including being separated from loved ones, losing jobs, feeling isolated during lockdown or having the virus and dealing with the associated health challenges. Taking care of our mental health can help us weather these effects.
Some strong mental health supporters are:
- A healthy diet
- A balanced amount of exercise
- Finding work-life balance
- Spending time with friends and loved ones (even virtually)
- Practicing yoga and meditation
- Cultivating a spiritual practice
- Enjoying fresh air and walks in nature when possible
- Joining a support group
- Reading inspirational and uplifting books
- Keeping regular appointments with a psychologist or psychiatrist
Another tool to cultivate mental health is the use of positive affirmations.
Affirmations are positive statements that reinforce a specific intention. They can help remind you of your goals and maintain a clear and focused mind as well as boost self-confidence and feelings of well-being.
You can use affirmations in a variety of ways, including writing them down and reading them every day.
You can also post them someplace where you will always see them. Another way to practice affirmations is to sit in meditation and repeat your affirmation(s).
You can also say them to yourself in the mirror. There are no wrong ways to use affirmations. The important thing is that you repeat them consistently and with sincerity.
Here are some powerful affirmations for mental health:
1. I feel loved and supported by friends and family. 2. I am able to heal. 3. I am enough. 4. I can make positive changes in my life. 5. I am unique, talented and beautiful. 6. I am grateful for my life. 7. I deserve to be happy. 8. I am worthy of love and support. 9. I am more than my diagnosis. 10. As I connect to my breath, I feel stable and centered in my mind and heart. 11. I am brave and have overcome many challenges. 12. I am proud of myself for getting the help I need. 13. How I feel is important. 14. I am able to share my feelings with others. 15. I feel safe to be vulnerable. 16. When negative thoughts arise, I can replace them with positive ones. 17. I am able to overcome challenges. 18. Each day is a new opportunity for healing and health. 19. My mental health is improving every day. 20. I am strong, healthy and happy. 21. I am safe. 22. I trust that I will be able to get through all challenges. 23. People love and accept me as I am. 24. I love myself and accept myself as I am. 25. I can change my thoughts and change my life. 26. I am filled with light, grace and love. 27. It’s okay if today is hard, I trust that tomorrow will be better. 28. This too shall pass. 29. I am capable of experiencing connection with others. 30. I live with joy. 31. I am committed to taking good care of myself because I deserve health and happiness. 32. I can make small changes every day to improve my life. 33. My thoughts are becoming lighter and more loving. 34. Thank you, Universe, for giving me this extraordinary life. 35. I am calm, centered and stable. 36. I am taking things one day at a time. 37. I have the final say about my thoughts and feelings. 38. I am in control of my life. 39. I allow myself to feel everything fully. 40. I feel peace in my heart. 41. I can observe my thoughts and feelings without becoming attached to them. 42. I can let go of the past. 43. I honor my past and embrace my future. 44. I have so much to look forward to. 45. There are many wonderful things in my life. 46. Each breath is a precious gift. 47. I know I can ask for help when I need it. 48. I can cultivate loving relationships. 49. My life has purpose and meaning. 50. I am important to my friends and family. 51. People care about me. 52. My depression is only a part of my life, and I can still experience the joy of living. 53. I can manage my mental health and live a happy life. 54. Every day, I am building the support I need to live the life I want to live. 55. I say kind and loving words to myself. 56. My life is worth living. 57. When I reach out for support, I show strength and courage. 58. As I practice self-love, I move closer to good mental health. 59. Self-love, self-care and support from friends and loved ones are in my mental health first aid kit.
Whether you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health issue, it’s important to seek the help of a professional psychologist or psychiatrist to get a diagnosis and learn about treatment options.
Our mental health is intimately connected to our quality of life.
Developing consistent, positive lifestyle habits can contribute greatly to our mental health and therefore, our quality of life.
Mental health affirmations are a powerful tool that can help us to establish positive and nurturing thoughts about ourselves and our life situations.
Write, recite or mentalize the affirmations that resonate most deeply with you and make a commitment to do it every day.
You are worth it.