Achieve Mental Health

Achieve optimal mental health

May is Mental Health Awareness month. Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
Mental health impacts how we think, feel, and respond to stress and how we cope. It also impacts how we relate to others and the choices we make in life. Mental health is important at every stage of life and should not be ignored. Studies have found that poor mental health plays a significant role in diminished immune functioning. Medically ill patients with depression have worse outcomes than those without, demonstrating the important link between body and mind.
When our mental health is not at an optimal level, life feels more like a struggle, depression and anxiety are likely to set in and unhealthy coping strategies are more apt to occur such as excessive drinking, eating poorly, sleeping too much or too little and being apathetic and unproductive at work. We might feel sad or tearful and hopeless and exhausted.
It is important to be on top of mental health and to know the early warning signs for mental health problems that often include depression and anxiety. Headaches and stomach issues are often one of our first physical signs of stress as well as feeling exhausted. People may experience emotions such as anxiety and irritability, feel empty, alienated, socially withdrawn and critical. Cognitively we see a lack of concentration and difficulty reasoning. It is important to be aware of such symptoms and practice self-care strategies to improve mental health as soon as problems are noticed.

Below are a few suggested activities for achieving optimal mental health:

Yoga & Meditation

Yoga's incorporation of meditation and breathing can significantly improve a person's mental well-being by creating mental clarity and calmness, increasing body awareness and is likely to relieve chronic stress patterns. Meditation and breathing exercises can help reduce overall levels of stress and depression. Meditation brings a sense of calm, peace and balance that can also be useful for relaxing and coping with stress by focusing on something that is calming. This can help with staying centered and bring inner peace.

Connect with Others

Connecting with others can be very beneficial for mental health. For several years, COVID-19 significantly limited opportunities for connection and as a result, mental health issues including anxiety and depression were on the rise.

Get adequate sleep

Sleep is our body and mind's best way to recharge and rejuvenate. One way to get sleep better is to take a break from the stimulation of screens in the hours before bedtime.

Eat healthy

Diets high in protein can help with mental health because protein contains amino acids which the brain uses to produce neurotransmitters that regulate thoughts and feelings.

Stay Active

Being active is helpful to our mental health as research shows that people who exercise regularly have better mental health and emotional wellbeing and lower rates of mental illness than those who don’t.

Other Resources

This article by BetterHealth goes into detail about the importance of social connection on mental health.
This article by Cynthia Conigliaro provides sleep strategies during stressful times.

About the Author

Cynthia Conigliaro
Cynthia Conigliaro is the Sales and Marketing Director for Organizational Wellness and Learning Systems (OWLS), a consulting firm focused on employee emotional wellbeing and organizational culture analysis.  For almost five years she has worked alongside the owner of OWLS to design and implement mental health related employee wellness trainings and workshops for organizations across the United States.
For almost 15 years she has had her own health and wellness coaching business.  Cynthia works with individuals and groups and runs virtual and in person workshops for employees on a variety of health and wellness topics relating to both physical and mental health. She is an Infinite Possibilities Certified Trainer and a Resilience and Life Coach. She has been a volunteer with the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) for the past 4 years where she sits on both the Programs Committee and the Marketing Committee. Cynthia has her Master of Social Work and her Master of Business Administration from Boston College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Minor in Spanish from College of the Holy Cross.
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