Well, the meaning of Good Mental Health has changed greatly over the past few years. Now, if someone is not suffering from a mental illness is referred to be in a good mental state. However, the absence of diagnosable mental health problems means that you’re not suffering from any mental illness. We should, under no circumstances, not associate with Mental Wellbeing. A good mental health is a state of well-being where you feel good and function well in the world.
According to WHO (World Health Organization), good mental health is when you can:
The other characteristics of good mental health include:
Many internal and external factors contribute and directly & indirectly impact your mental health. Let’s discuss them in detail.
When we talk about the things that can affect your mental health and wellbeing there are many factors at play.
In today’s fast-paced competitive world, generally staying late at the office, taking stress, having no time for ourselves, our family & friends, etc. are considered as something people feel very proud to share. We never realize the effect that this lifestyle can have on our mental health. Do you know that Stress is the leading cause of mental illness around the globe? In fact, WHO has declared stress as a Global Health Epidemic.
We have talked about stress in great detail in our article Tips to cope with Anxiety and Stress! To sum it up, chronic stress releases cortisol which shrinks your brain size. This shrinking of the brain results in the shrinking of the Prefrontal Cortex, part of the brain which regulates behaviors that are often associated with Good Mental Health like concentration, decision making, judgment, and social interactions.
Temperance implies that we are to create and practice, in our lifestyle schedule, a balance. It allows us to introduce certain habits that will provoke and will allow you to have a better mental health performance.
In a 2013 study Meditative Movement for Depression and Anxiety, it was found that meditative movements such as Yoga, Chi Kung, and Tai Chi were effective in reducing symptoms of Depression and Anxiety in all participants.
Poor nutrition can lead to physical numerous health problems such as obesity. The relationship between obesity and mental health problems is very direct. Results from a 2010 systematic review found two-way associations between depression and obesity, finding that people who were obese had a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time. We need to understand that our mind works 24x7 and it needs ‘’fuel’’ to function; that fuel is the food that we consume. So this becomes very logical that the quality of food you’ll have, the quality of mind you’ll have.
Alternatively, a good nutrient-rich diet can do wonders when it comes to Mental Health. Some foods help create Tryptophans in our body like Salmon, spinach, milk, nuts, etc. These Tryptophans, if reached in our brain in good proportion, will allow you to secrete more Indoor Serotonin, and Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Water helps Tryptophans to travel to the brain, so a proper intake of water will not only keep you physically fit but also keeps you mentally happy if incorporated with the Tryptophans-rich diet.
Dan Buttner, author of The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest went to the places where the normal life expectancy is 100+ years. He termed those places as Blue Zones and in his book he discovered their secrets to living a long and happy life. Though there were many factors involved depending upon the geography and culture, he discovered something about diet from them. Almost the majority of Centenarians have the basis of their diets as beans. Also, these people consume meat and flesh only 5 times a month.
If you think that physical movements contribute to your physical health only, you’re wrong. Evidence presented at the British Nutrition Foundation conference showed that not getting enough physical exertion can cause dementia and depression, reports the BBC.
A regular physical movement like aerobic exercise, walking, jogging, etc. releases a protein, BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which not only protects the brain but also plays an important role in creating new neurons, specifically in the hippocampus area of the brain. It also releases endorphins. It is through this combination of BDNF and Endorphins that things are often clearer and we feel more at ease after moving physically.
Take your Central Nervous System as your information highway and sleep is the maintenance it needs to function properly. Pathways form between nerve cells (neurons) in your brain, while you sleep, help you remember new information you’ve learned. Lack of sleep leaves your brain exhausted and makes it difficult for the brain to carry out functions that are indicative of good mental health like, memory issues, trouble with thinking and concentration, mood change, etc.
Regular exposure to sunshine in controlled quantities helps you to achieve a greater level of sleep. Your diet and eating habits also affect your sleep. Therefore, always avoid spicy foods and coffee at night. Also, regular exercise can also help you to sleep better.