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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

3 Reasons Why Mental Health Is So Important

3 Reasons Why Mental Health Is So Important

Mental health matters. Taking care of our mental health aids in our resilience and recovery from anything that happens.

Anyone can have a bad day, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad life. How we respond to it and take care of our mental health are what’s important.

Mental health is important at every stage of our lives. It encompasses our overall wellbeing and affects our lives in many ways.

Why Is Mental Health Important?

Research shows that one in five adults in America – 43.8 million people – experience mental illness, which is 18.5% of our total population.[1] This means that mental health issues frequent our population and affect everything we do.

According to HealthyPeople.gov, “neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States.”[2] Left untreated, mental illness creates widespread disability. It stops us from showing up to each day, stifles our abilities, and slows our pace.

Unfortunately, suicide rates rise when mental health is neglected. Mental health is important because it affects everything. It affects our ability to cope, adapt, and solve problems. It also affects our ability to be happy, productive, and well adjusted.

Mental health is a topic that gets stigmatized so often in our society. If someone is having a mental health issue, they are less likely to get help because of that stigma and shame.

But there’s nothing to be ashamed of. The wirings of your brain are not your fault. Yet, we act like it is our fault and discount its importance.

Mental illness also gets misunderstood by those who have never experienced it. It becomes up to us to advocate for our needs and educate others about our issues.

We become experts of “lived experience.”

There is a spectrum of how we experience things. We may sometimes lose control but regain it overall. Or we may experience the extremes of high and low emotions and not be able to cope. We may fall somewhere in between.

Things unravel when left untreated. But that doesn’t mean that it becomes too late. Anything’s possible. When we remember that, we give ourselves a fighting chance again.

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There are three reasons why mental health is so important.

1. Mental Health Affects Physical Health

If someone had cancer, we would not blame them for this disease in their bodies. So why do we place stigma and blame on mental health issues in the brain?

Mental illness matters just as much as any disease, and it can take one’s life as easily as any other.

Depression, for example, can lead to suicidal ideations and if untreated, suicidal attempts. We are not balanced people if we only focus on physical health.

The mind and the body are connected. Many mental ailments cause stress, which lowers the immune system. This means more frequent sickness and inability to cope.

Stress and anxiety can take a toll on our physical health. According to WebMD, “worry causes the body to release stress hormones that speed up your heart rate and breathing, raise your blood sugar, and send more blood to your arms and legs. Over time, this can affect your heart, blood vessels, muscles, and other systems.”[3]

When stress infiltrates our body, we start to shut down. How we cope with stress is everything. Untreated mental health issues can lead to further falling apart.

Many people turn to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, affecting their overall health and stability. When they don’t treat themselves right, it becomes a cycle of destructive behavior. This affects their physical wellbeing and can continue to snowball.

One’s stress affects one’s physical wellbeing and ability to take care of themselves, and this may cause destructive patterns.

When we reach this point, we sometimes only then learn that mental health is important. We must not ignore it, or other areas of our lives may suffer.

2. End Stigma and Shame to Lead Better Lives

It’s important to talk about mental health, so others can also come forward about it

Psych Central discusses how when we feel ashamed of ourselves, it is because we perceive we are broken or not normal. It affects our ability to cope when we think of ourselves so lowly.[4]

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Part of the process of healing is turning those feelings around. Our imperfections do not mean a lack of worth. When we realize that, we can also help others turn these feelings around and accept themselves.

Stigma begets shame. Shame begets destructive behaviors. Destructive behaviors beget a deterioration of the self.

Stigma spreads when we do not talk about mental health and its importance.

When it comes down to it, those who are mentally ill must need treatment. But without awareness and breaking the stigma surrounding their condition, they won’t feel comfortable reaching out to somebody for help. This enforces stigma and encourages more struggle and shame.

When we don’t get to say something, we give it more power.

In “Name It to Tame It”, a common exercise about emotions, we take the power of emotion away by naming it. Without talking about our emotions, they become more powerful and get more hold over us and others’ lives.

When we talk to each other, the problem becomes smaller with less hold over our lives. We can free each other by not being ashamed of mental health ourselves.

When we become authentic, we reclaim power over our lives. By denying the existence and importance of mental health, we deny ourselves. We lose our ability to solve problems and find solutions in our daily lives.

Without shame though however, we can say “I am not my mental illness. I am more than it. I am not afraid to talk about it because it is not my fault.”

When we do this, we empower ourselves and the world. We learn to listen to our triggers and warning signs so that we do not spiral, and we show greater compassion towards others experiencing it. This makes a more connected world overall.

“One day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you went through, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.” -Unknown

When we help ourselves, we also help others. We can pay attention to the world and make it a kinder, more loving place. We can determine what problems need to be solved by acknowledging our own, and we can share our stories in making that happen. We take away the shame.

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3. Mental Health Affects Everything

Our mental health affects how we cope with life. Lack of treatment leads to hopelessness and sadness, worthlessness, feeling guilty, anxiety and worry, fear, and loss of control.

Our relationships may suffer. Our performance in any situation such as school or work may decline. Withdrawal and isolation may happen.

We may also lose interest in things we once enjoyed. Task completion and time management may fall apart. It may also become difficult for us to concentrate, or one may have rumination and focus on cleaning or organizing.

Our relationship with food may change. We may have ups and downs, and racing thoughts can happen more often.

Life may become overwhelming. If we are having severe mental health issues, we may start to lose touch with reality and even hear voices.

Self-harm may happen. Destructive patterns such as alcohol and drug use may strike, and suicidal ideations may be the final result. Overall, things will fall apart if we don’t take mental health seriously.

If you experience any of these issues, it’s time to reach out for help.

Mental health issues are important. It’s important to learn and care about them because if we don’t, all the aforementioned things could happen. We can’t function if we’re not doing well.

But when we turn this around and have good mental health, many good things can happen:

  • We learn to cope again.
  • We become healthy in all aspects.
  • Our relationships no longer suffer.
  • We find meaning in our day to day lives.
  • We become more involved in our community.
  • We are more productive at school or at work.
  • We can be the person we are meant to be.

When we feel better, we do better.

Mental health affects everything. It affects our nature and how we interact with the world and ourselves.

Without good mental health, we are susceptible to not knowing our full worth and struggling with things that are beyond our control. When we ignore mental health, we ignore ourselves.

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We must value our health and wellness as much as we value anything, if not more. We must learn that we are good enough – that we are worthy of compassion and that others are too.

This leads us to have higher standards. It helps us feel sad if we want to feel sad, accepting our state of mind. And it also helps us do something about it.

We don’t have to wait to feel better – we can feel better today simply by acknowledging our struggles as real and worth paying compassionate attention towards.

We don’t need to solve every problem, but we can ask for help if things get too much. Then and only then do we gain some sense of control again over our lives.

Final Thoughts

We all deserve to have peace of mind. Mental health is important because we deserve that.

If we only knew how worthwhile we were, we could take over the world. It’s our own limiting thoughts that hold us back, as we think that we are not normal or broken or not worthwhile.

The truth is that the mind can lie. It can hold us back. And yet it is also the source of everything good we experience.

It doesn’t make anyone less of a person for experiencing mental health issues. When we value mental health, we lead better lives. It doesn’t mean everything will be better overnight, but we can learn how to value ourselves so we can improve over time.

Mental health is as important as physical health. We must end the stigma because mental health affects everything. When we remember that, we can turn it all around. And it’s never too late to do exactly that.

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

Good luck.

Tips on Improving Your Mental Health

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] National Alliance on Mental Illness: Mental Health By the Numbers
[2] HealthyPeople.gov: Mental Health and Mental Disorders
[3] WebMD: How Worry Affects Your Body
[4] Pysch Central: When You Feel Shame About Your Mental Illness

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Sarah Browne

Sarah is a speaker, writer and activist

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

You may be wondering how to clear your mind. Maybe you are facing a tough presentation at work and really need to focus, or perhaps you’ve got a lot going on at home and just need to relax for a few minutes. Whatever the reason, having a clear mind can help you find your center.

The only problem is that you can’t completely erase the thousands of thoughts you have each day. The goal is to be able to observe those thoughts without engaging with each one of them.

The good news is that clearing your mind and returning to the present moment comes from a simple act of acknowledging that you’re overwhelmed in the first place. A path to better mental health and overall quality of life starts here.

What Happens When You’re Not Present?

We’ve evolved to keep looking and working towards a future goal. The very nature of our careers is to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up for the future. Our thoughts and, therefore, our habits and actions consistently point in the forward-moving direction, whether it’s in your relationship, career, or goals.

The point at which this becomes harmful is when we become too stuck in this forward motion and can’t reduce stress in the short or long-term. The result of this is burnout.[1] It’s a term that is most often used in the workplace, but burnout can happen in any area of our life where you feel like you’re pushing too hard and too fast.

The idea here is that you’re so engrossed in the forward movement that you take on too much and rest too little. There is no pause in the present because you have this sense that you must keep working.

On a physical plane, the body takes a real hit with burnout. You feel more muscle fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, anxiety, poor metabolism, and so much more.

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These symptoms are the body’s way of throwing you red flags and warning you that you must slow down. But because your mind is so preoccupied with this forward momentum, it disconnects you from listening to your body’s signals. The only time you really hear them is when the signals are too loud to ignore, such as during serious illness or pain.

As we can see, not being present is something that snowballs over time. Eventually, it can cause serious mental, emotional, and physical ailments. 

To help you deal with this, you can check out Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment to see where you may be off balance. Then, you can check out the points below to keep moving in the right direction.

How Do We Come Back to the Present?

Answering this question will answer the question of how to clear your mind because they go hand in hand. There are many tools you can use to begin a mindfulness practice.

To reiterate, mindfulness is simply defined as the act or practice of being fully present.[2] Tools that allow you to step into this practice include meditation, journaling, a body-centered movement practice such as Qigong, or simple breathing exercises.

Underneath it all, however, is one technique that acts as a universal connector, and that is acknowledgment. This term may not sound like a technique, but its power truly flourishes when put into practice.

For us to come back to the present moment, we have to acknowledge that we have trailed off into the past or the future. Likewise, for us to clear our mind, we have to acknowledge that our mind is overwhelmed, distracted, or scattered.

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This simple act of pausing and catching ourselves in the moment is how we can build our acknowledgment practice. So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed at work with mental to-do lists, pause. Acknowledge your state of mind and say to yourself that you’re overwhelmed. This sends a signal to your whole being that you’re aware of what’s going on.

It cuts the cords of illusion, denial, and ignorance. You are now building your awareness of yourself, which is an incredibly potent gift.

How to Clear Your Mind

Now that you’ve acknowledged where you are and how you feel, you can take action and learn ways to clear your mind. You can take a few moments away from your desk or to-do list, and practice something to ground yourself back into the present moment.

1. Take a Walk

Grounding yourself can be as simple as taking a walk and admiring the changing of the leaves. This practice is also known as “forest bathing,” and it doesn’t necessarily need to take place in a forest. It can be in your favorite park or even walking around your town or neighborhood.

Bring your attention to the senses as you enjoy your walk. Can you tune in to the sounds of your footsteps on the earth? Can you notice the smells and take in the sights around you while staying present in the moment? Can you touch a leaf or the bark of a tree and allow the texture to teach you something new?

Such a practice does wonders in clearing your mind and bringing you back to the now. It also connects you more deeply to your environment.

2. Box Breathing

As you’re learning how to clear your mind, a mind-clearing practice may look like sitting down and going through a nourishing meditation or breath practice. Breathing is, honestly, the easiest and best way to clear your mind. Even taking a few deep breaths in and out and feeling and noticing the breath will bring you right back to the present moment.[3]

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In yoga, we call this breath Same Vrti, meaning a 1:1 breath ratio. It can also be translated as “box breathing.” The idea is to make the length of your inhales and exhales the same, as this allows you to take in more oxygen and slow down the chatter of the monkey mind. It also kicks on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion, offering many health benefits in the long run.

This will allow your heart rate to slow down so that you can reduce any anxiety you may be feeling. It also aids in digestion, as the metabolism is back on track, and helps you physically process food and drink properly.

3. Add Meditation

how to meditate and clear your mind is also helpful when you want to clear negative thoughts and relieve stress. In fact, following your breath is a meditation in itself. Adding a visual, like imagining gentle ripples on a lake or clouds passing along a beautiful blue sky, can give the mind something to attach to without running through the train of your thoughts.

On the other hand, if you are mentally overwhelmed and meditation sounds like more stress, tuning in to a guided meditation session can be alleviating. It often helps to hear the voice of a teacher or guide who can walk you into more peace and contentment with their words and energy. If you can’t find such a guide in a local studio, turn to the many meditation apps on your phone, or YouTube.

4. Write Your Thoughts

Alternatively, another powerful practice for when you’re learning how to clear your mind is sitting down and writing out all of the thoughts in your head. We call this a “brain dump,” and it is an effective method for simply releasing your thoughts so that you can mentally breathe and process things better.

Grab a piece of paper and write out all of the thoughts that are pressing for your attention. The idea is not to analyze the thoughts or fix them, but to give those thoughts an exit so that you can move on with your day without fixating on them aggressively. This can look like a laundry list of thoughts, or a diary entry.

Afterward, feel free to close your journal or rip up the paper as part of your stress management. You don’t need to hold on to what you wrote, but it does help to see the expression of what you’re holding on to mentally. Likewise, this practice is very potent to do at night before bedtime. So many of us struggle to sleep soundly with many thoughts bouncing back and forth, and this exercise before bed can allow us to enter a deeper level of rest.

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Regardless of what you do, understand that practicing mindfulness is a lifelong process. With life’s ups and downs, it’s stressful to attach yourself to the practice of being mindful and in the present moment because it’s never guaranteed that you will be present for 100% of your life.

In this practice, what matters more than anything is intention. Our intention of staying present and sticking to our mindfulness practice is what will encourage us to keep coming back to it, even when we forget.

Final Thoughts

With the thousands of thoughts that we have in our head each day, it can sound overwhelming to even tackle this and try to learn how to clear your mind. The technique, however, is powerful, simple, and effective.

It all comes down to first recognizing and acknowledging that we are overwhelmed, stressed, or far away from the present moment. That acknowledgment acts as a wake-up alarm, inviting us to examine our state of mind and take action.

In this way, not only are we clearing our minds in a manner that works for us, but we’re also building our self-awareness, which is a beautiful and powerful way of being in the world.

More Tips on How to Clear Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Elijah Hiett via unsplash.com

Reference

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