Why Bother With Mental Wellness?
We all understand that personal hygiene matters greatly and if neglected, others suffer. If our breath is bad and we open our mouths to speak, a friend will offer us a mint while a stranger will simply lean away from us. Sitting down next to someone with strong body odor is discomforting. While we don’t want to be rude and relocate to a new seat, we don’t want to have to tolerate the intolerable. Yes, personal hygiene does make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others.
Pour on the Self-Care
Babies are incapable of caring for themselves. That is the job of a parent. But at some point, parents hand over the responsibility of personal hygiene to the child. With practice and reminders, the child learns to brush their hair, floss their teeth and apply deodorant after they shower. But I am not so sure that as children, we learn to be responsible for our mental wellness.
Though I taught my sons to value their personal cleaning regiments, it wasn’t my intent to skip out on teaching them the importance of caring for their mental wellness. But, I couldn’t teach them something I personally did not know. While growing up, being mentally well was never a topic we discussed around the family’s dinner table. It wasn’t until later in life, when I felt I was hanging on by a thread to maintain my sanity, that I set out to discover for myself what I needed to be mentally well and to stay well.
Caring for our own mental stability involves more than taking a hot bath at the end of a busy day, or a two week vacation once a year. Mental wellness consists of how healthy we are emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually, socially, environmentally, interpersonally and occupationally. Our wellness or lack of, involves how all of these components of our lives work for or against each other.
The easiest way to “test” if we are mentally flourishing or not is to ask, “How satisfied, joyous or purposeful do I feel in each of these areas?” It is not a one time assessment either. It can’t be. Like the seasons in nature, some periods in our lives are far more difficult than others.
Yet, it is during those most trying periods that show us whether or not our system of personal mental self care is working. If while under stress my emotions go haywire, my stamina tanks, and my way of relating to others defaults to anger and blame, then I know I need to reassess my self care plan and put a new one into action.
Everybody is different. Paying attention to our emotional, physical, spiritual, intellectual, social, environment, interpersonal and occupational takes time and a conscious effort. But, it is worth knowing ourselves well enough so we can take care of our wellness.
Why bother with mental wellness? Like personal hygiene, our mental wellness makes a difference not only for us, but for everybody else around us.