Health involves physical, mental, social, & spiritual well-being. May is Mental Health Month & this year’s theme is Pathways to Wellness. All too often when we speak about health, we have visions of going to the gym or running a marathon. However, we must remember that it is equally important that we exercise our mental, social and spiritual well-being. But since there is no treadmill for the soul, how do we do that?
Mother Theresa made an interesting observation about the greatest disease in the Western world…
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy;
it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for.
We can cure physical diseases with medicine,
but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love.
― Mother Teresa
We need only to turn on TV to see the many various pharmaceutical commercials including all the focus on depression and mental health concerns. As a nation, there is still a lot of stigma around mental health problems. We need to try and lift that stigma. Having a mental health disease is painful enough, so the diagnosis should not cause more pain. Mental health illness can be temporary like bronchitis or pneumonia, or long-term like diabetes. But just like the physical conditions, mental illness needs to be seen by a doctor and not ignored or shamed or dismissed as nothing.
Mental Health America the organization that sponsors May as Mental Health Month each year outlined these potential paths to wellness – for physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.
- Connecting with others can help you enjoy the times when you are alone.
- Staying positive can improve your mood and your health.
- Exercising in “spurts” can be just as effective as continuous exercise. For example, three 20-minute periods of exercise can be just as good as one hour of exercise.
- Helping others may help you experience less depression.
- Drinking beverages with caffeine should be stopped 6-8 hours before bed to ensure a more restful sleep.
- Creating joy and satisfaction can be easy with little things such as making a gourmet meal while listening to your favorite music, treating yourself to a massage, or even taking a few minutes to admire nature.
- Writing down your problems can help to shift your thinking about an issue and ultimately improve your mood.
- Spirituality can give you a sense of purpose and meaning.
- Stress management techniques are important because chronic (long-lasting) stress can change your brain and the way you function.
The following two quotes illustrate why following pathways to wellness can be so important.
Plan for the future because
that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life.
~ Mark Twain
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
~ Gautama Buddha
Following are sources for more information on May is Mental Health Month:
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!
By Darci L. Graves, MPP