I’ll be honest, it’s tough to squeeze into just a few paragraphs my passion and desire for each person to create and maintain a wellness journey. I have so much I want to be sure everyone knows – to affirm those who are doing well (Keep working, every day! Be intentional on finding new ways to create space for your feelings, find joy and gratitude in small things, and pour into others by volunteering on a small or even large scale!) and to encourage those who are struggling - You do not have to struggle alone! There are real, proven ways that professionals can help, and many of us have dedicated our lives to being supports and guides for you.
Being emotionally and mentally healthy is a top priority for most people. We are aware that when we are “in a good place,” we can better connect with others, be more cognitively flexible when we need to change course, and we have more energy and enthusiasm with which to enjoy our daily lives. Overall, even with the normal amount of doubt and stress humans will endure, when we are healthy, we feel competent and hopeful about our future. We know that even though one of life’s sneaky “gut punches,” may knock the wind out of us, we believe that in time we will get back to a better – albeit, sometimes different – place.
But sometimes, we don’t feel emotionally well or see the world in a hopeful way. Whether we receive an emotional blow from which we are having difficulty finding our way back or whether we are predisposed to genetic illnesses or a chemical imbalance in the brain, understanding our emotional and mental health – and available treatments – can help us take charge of our health and find the care we need to get on track to becoming well.
Thankfully, there are very effective treatments (typically talk therapy and for some conditions, medication) which help most people
successfully manage or even eliminate symptoms and lead a much more fulfilling life. And I really want to stress that, because I know if you’re reading this article right now and feeling unwell, you’re probably also feeling very skeptical about treatment. That’s okay, that’s part of not feeling well. But please don’t get stuck there. More than ever before, therapy services are easier to access – whether in person or via telehealth from their own homes! Talking about your thoughts and feelings, processing aloud with a skilled therapist who is trained to guide you through the process of understanding your thoughts, emotions and behaviors and clarifying goals, creates a shift in your brain and in brain chemicals that ruminating about your problems in your own head will not accomplish.
Think about it like this: one person wants to get physically fit and starts doing sit ups and pushups at home while another person goes to the gym and works with an experienced trainer who teaches and coaches people how to get fit all day every day. While working alone may be a start, working with a professional help to identify and understand faulty training methods, clarifies goals, and educates the person on a more efficient and effective routine. It is truly amazing how life-changing therapy can be. And I’ll give you a tip – some of the best therapy doesn’t even feel like therapy!
Good mental health is as important as good physical health. It’s no surprise that both are helped by a healthy lifestyle – ensuring we get enough sleep and eat nourishing food, trying to keep stress to a reasonable level, and relaxing regularly, especially through physical exercise, and – very importantly – staying connected to family and friends.
Whether you are struggling right now or feel pretty good but know there is more you can do to promote improved health and wellness, please reach out to a mental health professional in your community. Tell them you are ready to develop your own course of wellness!
Dr. Dana Watson is a Clinical Psychologist & Clinical Supervisor for Families, Inc. Counseling Services.