10 Signs of a good mental health
What is mental health? Most of us have some idea about it. We have been celebrating World Mental Health Day every 10th October for the last 30 years and it has helped us identify factors affecting mental health and the different mental health disorders that exist.
We know the signs to look out for to figure if someone is depressed or having anxiety issues. However, is mental health only about mental illnesses? Do we even know the difference between mental health and mental illness? Do we know what positive mental health is? Can we spot the signs that indicate good mental health? Surely, being happy is not the only one as we all know that people with depression often put on a happy persona. Famous actor and comedian Robin Williams was a long-time sufferer of depression and no one knew about it until it was too late.
In this article we will focus on not just the importance of mental health, but understand that mental illness and mental health are two opposite poles of a linear sequence that keeps moving throughout one’s lifetime.
Understanding Mental Health Continuum
It won’t be wrong to assume that good mental health means an absence of mental illnesses. The World Health Organization (WHO) definition of mental health describes it as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
In the above definition WHO states that a person should be able to cope with the stresses of life. This is very crucial because life is unpredictable and our state of mind can change with the changing circumstances. According to the Mental Health Continuum model, mental health and mental illnesses lie at two extreme ends of a linear sequence. Depending on our mental faculties, our physical capabilities, and our external surroundings, we keep moving up and down this sequence.
There are three separate markers within the mental health continuum:
The Healthy Point: Individuals who are at this point are usually content with their lives. They are emotionally well-balanced; they are stable and they have goals they want to achieve.
The Problem Point: This lies in the middle of the two extremes. Individuals at this stage are in anguish and are unable to cope, yet are capable of carrying out everyday functions of life like going to work, eating food, etc.
The Disorder Point: This is at the other end of the continuum, and as the name indicates, individuals who fall on this side of the sequence are unable to cope with stress and display significant changes in the way they think, act and behave.
To know whether you lie on the Healthy Point of the Mental Health Continuum, it is important to understand the signs of good mental health.
10 signs that indicate good mental health
There are many signs to indicate good mental health and it can be different for different people. However, if we had to narrow it down to the absolute basics then here are the 10 signs that your mental health is in good shape.
1. You accept that changes in mental health are normal – You know that life does not move in one straight path and that there will be good days and bad days. You know that through the course of your life you may go through phases of grief, anxiety, happiness, contentment, etc. and you accept that.
2. You live life according to your values and feel good about it – You know your responsibilities and priorities in life and can make decisions about it with ease. You feel good about yourself and the life you are living.
3. There is a sense of belonging – You don’t feel lost about your place in this world. You may have a strong sense of community or a spiritual strength that assures you of your worth in this life.
4. You cope easily and try to learn from experiences – You accept the ups and downs of life and try to learn from these experiences so that the next time they occur you are more mentally prepared.
5. You know when to say “no” – You may or may not like confrontation but you do know when to say “no” when someone crosses a line be it in your personal or professional life.
6. You have healthy relationships – Because you value yourself, you know how to value the love, time and effort of the people close to you. This helps you form stronger bonds with your friends, family members and even your co-workers.
7. You are self-assured – Your self-worth is not dependent on what others think of you or how much success you achieve in life. You know your own value and don’t need people or things to make you feel good.
8. You’ve achieved a good balance between self-acceptance and self-improvement – You know your limitations which helps you avoid the disappointment of unrealistic expectations. At the same time, you keep working on your strengths so you can keep moving ahead in life.
9. You are grateful – You count your blessings every day and are happy for the life you have and the opportunities bestowed on you. You even view your hardships as opportunities to learn from and move ahead in life.
10. You can celebrate other people’s success – You are not the jealous type and you can genuinely feel happy for someone when they achieve success.
Now that you know the signs of good mental health, how do you go about achieving them? Let’s find out.
How to improve mental health?
There are many ways to achieve good mental health. Here are a few mental health tips, that are easy to follow in your daily life.
Communicate about your feelings – It’s ok to talk about how you feel. In fact, it should be encouraged both in our professional and personal lives.
Exercise for mental health – When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in the body. Regular exercise can make you more focused, help you sleep better and boost your self-esteem.
Follow a good diet – Your brain needs good nutrients to perform well. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds and avoid highly processed foods. Also, if you choose to consume alcohol, then limit yourself to just a couple of drinks or less over the weekend.
Take a break – We all need a vacation from time to time to rejuvenate ourselves. If you cannot take a few days off then even an hour to yourself can do wonders. Read a book, listen to music or cook your favourite dish, just do what makes you happy.
Keep a journal – Writing down your thoughts, dreams, goals, ambitions and most importantly your blessings, can help you achieve good control over your life and make you feel stable.
Mental health Apps – You can access online mental health counselling, through various online Apps that promote mental health. In today’s fast-paced life, going to a therapist can sometimes be near to impossible and these Apps can help in some ways. However, do keep in mind that for more serious issues it is always advisable to meet with a therapist in person.
Maintaining good mental health may not be an easy task for everyone. When it comes to mental health, the stigma around it stops many people from accessing the help they need. If you or your loved ones need counselling then you can seek assistance here. In conclusion, good mental health is not simply an absence of mental illness, it is also the presence of inner strength and values that make you self-assured and satisfied with your life.
Kohli. S. (2020, July) 8 tell-tale signs that your mental health is in good shape, according to a psychologist.
Benna. S. (2015, Sept) 21 signs you’re mentally stronger than average.
How to look after your mental health.