While May might be officially deemed “Mental Health Awareness Month,” that doesn’t mean that mental health and awareness should not also be a priority in the other 11 months of the year. Your overall mental health should be an important thing to focus on 365 days a year.
While a lot of emphasis gets placed on a person’s physical health, people don’t pay nearly much attention to their mental health. However, mental health is just as important as physical health as your mental health can directly impact your physical health. After all, it is your brain that ultimately controls how the rest of your body operates and functions.
4 Pillars of Health
So, how exactly do you not only achieve positive mental health but also maintain it? Well, there are four key pillars of mental health and wellness. There are four pillars of public health, which are physical health, emotional health, cognitive health, and social health. Let’s take a look at each of these pillars of public health and how it affects your overall mental health and wellness.
Pillar 1: Physical Health
Physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand. After all, your brain is the leader of your body, controlling its every move. When we take care of our body and mind, we are keeping our entire system running as it is supposed to be. When we neglect either our mental or physical health, it can have adverse effects on our entire system.
By this point in your life, you already know the keys to physical health. Your diet, exercise routine, and the amount of sleep you get all have a direct effect on not just your physical well-being but also your mental well-being.
Pillar 2: Emotional Health
While often used in the same light as mental health, emotional health is something completely different. Emotional health refers to having an awareness of your feelings and emotions as well as having the ability to manage and express these feelings in an age-appropriate fashion. Emotional health is your ability to recognize and control your emotions.
While different, emotional, and mental health go hand-in-hand. When our mental health begins to decline, so does our ability to properly process and control our emotions. This can be particularly true during times of mental duress such as stress, trauma, or depression. This emotional instability can not only affect you but can also affect those around you, making it one of the pillars of public health.
If these problems continue for a prolonged period without treatment, it can negatively affect both your mental and physical health and well-being. That’s why taking care of yourself mentally is so important. If you don’t look out for your overall mental health, your emotional health can be affected because you are unable to process information healthily safely, and responsibly.
Pillar 3: Cognitive Health
Cognition refers to our ability to think. It also refers to our ability to recognize, obtain, comprehend, and answer information that is presented to us. Examples of cognition include concentration, the ability to remember things, analyzation, problem-solving, categorizing, and reordering. We need to be able to do all these things to be successful in our daily lives in work, social, and academic environments.
Like everything else in our lives, our cognitive health is directly related to our overall mental health. For those suffering from mental health issues, the ability to perform even the most basic cognitive tasks can be nearly impossible. Some signs of cognitive dysfunction as a result of a mental health issue include:
- Not being able to problem-solve
- Poor decision making
- Regular headaches
- A decline in performance either at work or at school
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Having trouble focusing or thinking clearly
- Memory loss
- Difficulty sleeping
The good news is, even if you find yourself suffering from one or more of these issues there are things that you can do to not only improve your cognitive health but your overall mental health as well. Strengthening and exercising the brain can go a long way when it comes to improving cognitive function. Some of the things that you can do include:
- Physical exercise
- Hobbies such as cooking, art, and playing an instrument
Pillar 4: Social Health
Given the current climate we live in, our social health might be the biggest thing that we are all struggling with right now. Our mental health is very much connected to our ability to have regular to semi-regular social interactions.
Humans by nature are social creatures, it’s in our DNA. These social interactions give us a sense of purpose belonging, increased levels of happiness, reduced stress levels, increased self-worth, and confidence. All of these things are good for our overall mental health and well-being.
These things can be difficult right now with everything going on in the world. Unfortunately, the lack of regular social interaction can lead to depression, anxiety, and poor overall mental health.
While it might be easy to close yourself off from the outside world in a time like this, it is important to continue social interaction safely and responsibly. Thanks to the technology that we have at our fingertips these days, staying in contact with friends and continuing to have social interaction has never been easier, even if it’s not face-to-face.
You can call someone on the phone, you can talk to them via Zoom or another digital video platform, you can even find online communities to talk to people in. The important thing is to continue to be socially active. Social activity is not only good for your mental health but your cognitive health as well.
A healthy and well-balanced diet not only helps your body perform better, it also promotes healthy brain function. When you eat healthily, your body not only performs better but overall you feel better. When you feel good, it can greatly positively affect your mental state. You are more likely to handle potentially stressful situations better when you are feeling good and your mind is free and clear. On the opposite side of that, eating bad foods can lead to you not feeling as well which can have adverse effects on your overall mental health and well-being.
So, what exactly is it that plays the largest factor when it comes to diet and overall mental health. Well, research says it all comes down to gut health. Eating healthy foods promote good gut bacterias which helps with overall gut health. Poor gut health has been shown to have a direct correlation with depression and anxiety. Incorporating foods that are high in collagen, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids can help improve not just your gut bacteria but your overall mood as well.
While we all need that lazy day where we don’t get off the couch every once in a while, doing it too much can be harmful to both our physical and mental health. Moving our bodies and getting exercise can not only improve your overall mood, but it also releases endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Regular exercise can increase specific volumes of brain regions. This can improve oxygen and nutrient delivery that ultimately support brain growth. Regular exercise has been shown to combat depression and anxiety.
A regular and healthy sleep schedule is a key component of both mental and physical health. A good night’s rest can go a long way when it comes to feeling good and having a productive day. Being well-rested can also help you be more resilient when dealing with stress or anxiety that might pop up during a given day.
Want To Know More About the Pillars of Public Health?
Unfortunately, many people are too afraid or embarrassed to ask for help when it comes to their mental health. Instead of seeking help or treatment, many of them turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to numb the pain and self-medicate. While in the short term this might seem like a good idea, and might even work, in the long run, it can ultimately lead to even more problems, including the development of a substance abuse disorder.
At Renewal Behavioral Health, we know that no matter how tough it might be, drugs and alcohol are never the answer. The best way to get the help you need is to seek treatment and not let your mental health condition continue to rule your life.
That’s why we offer a variety of treatment programs for a wide variety of mental health conditions. If you or someone you know suffers from a mental health disorder, contact us today to learn more about the programs that we offer and how we can help.