By Sarah Wylde
When it comes to managing our mental health, it can be helpful to understand what mental health is. There are a lot of definitions out there that can be overwhelming and confusing. When I first started reading and researching mental health, I had no idea where to start and what literature to trust. After reading quite a few articles about what mental health is and how it affects us, I find them all to have one thing in common. “That our mental health includes, our emotional, physical, and social well-being.” It isn’t cut and dry, there are different levels and components to mental health and our wellbeing. It reminds me of the part in the Shrek movie when he is trying to describe to Donkey that ogres have layers like an onion, each time you peel off a layer there is something new. That metaphor works for mental health as well.
I have social anxiety, panic disorder, depression, OCD, and mild agoraphobia when I think about it, I really can’t imagine a part of my life when I wasn’t dealing with mental health. Looking back, I just didn’t know what the feelings meant, where they were coming from, and why it was happening. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that things got bad enough where I finally got the help I needed. When I started therapy, that is when my interest in mental health peaked and I began my journey of wanting to learn all I can. I am not a health professional. I am just passionate about learning and have become a mental health advocate who would love to see the stigma that surrounds mental health and mental illness end.
As I mentioned, there are multiple layers when it comes to mental health, each layer is a component that affects us. Sometimes one component can be more noticeable than another, but that doesn’t mean any of them should be ignored. Out of the six components that will be listed below, they all contribute to our overall well-being, so we should be aware of them, the effect, and how to recognize them.
Six components of mental health:
Physical: includes our sleeping habits, diet, exercise and any medical issues. Having poor physical health can impact your self-esteem, which can cause sadness and even depression. Taking care of our body by working out and eating right is also taking care of our mental state.
Emotional: this includes our emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, love) and how we express and feel them. Thoughts can trigger emotions and how we react to those emotions. If you keep everything bottled up, it can come out in an unhealthy way that can damage your mental health.
Social: refers to how we interact with people and our communication skills.
Mental: how we think about and how we talk to ourselves. If we think badly about ourselves, we tend to believe it.
Spiritual: having a purpose/meaning in our life. Feeling lost and not knowing where things are going, can make us start feeling sad and depressed.
Behavioural: how we act on our thoughts and emotions. It is about finding balance in thoughts and actions.
There is so much that contributes to our mental health, everything works together including the above six components.
I hope this helps in your mental wellness journey.
Until next time!