Mental Health is More than just Mental Illness

Our mindset is complicated and takes time to figure out, but with consistent effort you can get there 🙂
Image Source: https://online.alvernia.edu/program-resources/behavioral-health-vs-mental-health/

Being healthy, physically and mentally, is often defined by the absence of any sort of illness. However, to me, being mentally healthy means so much more; When I reached the point of mostly having overcome my phobia, I was excited about being in a ‘healthy’ state of mind again (i.e. my life did not revolve itself around vomit). But I came to the realisation that there was so much more to my mindset than my previous mental illness. I did not suffer from depression nor anxiety, but there were parts of my thinking that were still unhelpful, and I am still continuously working on these belief systems.

But what do I mean by unhelpful thoughts that were not really part of a mental illness? For me, I found myself to be very reliant on other people – I constantly wondered what others thought of me, if they thought I looked good, and even let their personal outlook on life get to me. Everything in my life revolved around others, by either helping them, giving parts of my life up for them, or letting their opinions take over mine. Whenever I got home alone, I felt lost, confused and frustrated. This is not mentally healthy. I realised I could not let myself be so dependent on everyone but me – At the end of the day, I am the only person that is a constant throughout my life, so I need to learn how to be there for myself, be able to happily keep myself company, and create the person I aspire to be!

Mental illness is a huge issue that many people face in life, but is there more ways our thinking can be affected negatively?
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_disorder

If you don’t suffer from a diagnosed mental illness, it is important to still check how mentally healthy you are. An easy way to do this is to ask yourself questions concerning how you go through life: Are you happy being alone or do you immediately feel lonely or abandoned? What do you think when you look in the mirror? Is going to the cinema alone an option for you, or are you scared of external judgement? Are you able to find something positive in every situation? Can you laugh at yourself or are you easily embarrassed?

Mental health is something we need to talk about more, and mental illness is certainly a huge part of that. But there is more to being healthy, and small things, such as complaining or putting on make-up every time you step outside the door, might be signs you are not living with a healthy mentality. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed, or don’t suspect you suffer from a mental illness, being mentally healthy is still something you should check for.

Being able to see something positive in every situation is crucial for being mentally healthy.
Image Source: http://omswami.com/2016/12/the-secret-of-being-positive.html

You are the only consistent support throughout your life, so make sure to be create the support system you need and want! Nobody else but you will be there to look out for you, sense your emotions, and realise whether you are doing okay. For me, this is a huge part of mental health that I don’t see talked about very much, so I would love to hear your opinions on this :)!

Embrace the Challenge

Putting yourself through challenges is crucial for self-growth, while also being the most rewarding feeling you can give yourself! Be proud of what you have accomplished.
Image Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/active/10605263/Ueli-Steck-the-man-who-runs-up-mountains.html

In life we naturally go through many challenging situations. We may choose the challenge ourselves, or find ourselves in an unexpected tough situation. Either way, embrace those situations. This links to my last post about being grateful, but I think this is a more specific part in life – When we describe something as “challenging”, we think of something we had to overcome with difficulty and effort. But often times, the focus is not on the good outcome it led to.

A challenge might be an experience where we have to fight, physically or mentally. With proper reflection, I believe any struggle can be turned into something positive that taught you how to keep going in life.

When overcoming my past phobia, any challenging situation I put or found myself in has helped me get one step ahead. Yes, in the moment it was unpleasant, I might have cried or left, but afterwards I reflected and realised it was not that bad. I fought my way through situations that I found challenging, and I won – I survived, was absolutely fine, and I realised my imagination was my enemy (which I was then able to change!)

Think of your mental capabilities like a muscle, an analogy I have always liked to motivate me put effort into changing my beliefs. When trying to gain muscle mass, you have to challenge your body by lifting weights that need your body to push itself just enough. If your body is challenged, you feel your muscles shaking, which is a sign that they are strengthening. It is the same with your mental experiences; You might experience shaky emotions during the challenge, but over time you get better at it and grow as a person.

Wim Hof (“The Iceman”) has put himself through unbelievable physical and mental challenges, which has led to what he calls an “optimal state of body and mind”
Image source: https://edlatimore.com/wim-hof-method-review/
To read more about the Wim-Hof Method, go here: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/

So – Face any challenges as they come, learn from them and reflect on what improvements you have made, or a capable of making, in order to experience mental growth. I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic :)!