Mental health is an essential component of our overall well-being, yet it often receives less attention than physical health. Why is that? Literally the command center of our body and we ignore it most often. Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and it can affect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. As we continue to develop our mental health and wellness blog, Not Silent, in this particular posting, we will discuss mental health, including why it matters, common mental health conditions, and how to support good mental health. Let us reiterate, we are not mental health experts. Truthfully, if one is experiencing challenges regarding mental health, they should seek professional counsel.
Why Mental Health Matters
Mental health matters for several reasons. First, it affects our quality of life. Do you remember before you were having difficulty with mental health issues? Way different, wasn’t it? When we have good mental health, we are more likely to feel happy, confident, and fulfilled. Second, mental health affects our relationships with others. This is especially true if you are in a relationship where the other person is not quite knowledgeable to mental health issues such as PTSD, for example. Ever have someone just come out and say, “It’s all in your head.” It is really kind of the point. They are right but not in the intended response. They equate it to maybe something that you can just shake off and tomorrow you will feel better. Doesn’t work that way, does it.
When we are struggling with mental health problems, it can be difficult to maintain positive relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. There is, for some, a literal unfiltering in their persona. For some, the whole dancing around the garden to make a point on a topic in a conversation is often taken away. You can become more literal in ways. Your views on many things will change and in all likelihood it is the result of your experiences than can vastly differ from your audience.
Finally, mental health affects our physical health. For example, chronic stress and anxiety can contribute to a variety of physical health problems, including high blood pressure and heart disease. Poor diet choices can also be a factor and eventually that will translate into health issues.
Common Mental Health Conditions
Many mental health conditions can affect individuals. Some of the most common mental health conditions include:
- Depression: Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities. It can affect both physical and emotional health and can interfere with daily activities.
- Anxiety: Anxiety is a condition characterized by excessive worry or fear. It can be generalized, affecting many aspects of life, or it can be specific, such as a phobia.
- Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder is a condition characterized by extreme mood swings. Individuals with bipolar disorder may experience periods of mania, during which they feel euphoric and energized, and periods of depression.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a condition that can develop after a traumatic event. It can cause intense feelings of anxiety and can interfere with daily activities. It can affect your sleep,mood, sense of situational awareness, and bring on other conditions such as depression and anxiety. It is a very complex condition, often greatly misunderstood by those that don’t have it, and the stigma associated with it in some organizations, such as the military in history, is well known.
Supporting Good Mental Health
There are many ways to support good mental health. Here are a few tips:
- Practice Self-Care: Self-care refers to activities that promote relaxation, stress reduction, and overall well-being. Examples include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and practicing mindfulness. With respect to The Rolling Barrage, for example, we value motorcycles and riding as a positive activity that promotes mental health and wellness.
- Build Strong Relationships: Positive relationships with friends and family can help support good mental health. Make time to connect with loved ones regularly and prioritize communication and support. The Rolling Barrage conducts an annual ride across Canada and, for many, it provides for a positive mental health experience seeing fellow riders, friends and family across the country.
- Seek Help: If you are struggling with mental health problems, seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide support, guidance, and treatment options. This is very important. The denial will only go so far. Things begin to unravel and when things unravel, you’re not entirely in control. Taking back control means taking the initiative and effort to seek help.
- Reduce Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to a variety of mental health problems. To reduce stress, try practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga, and identify and address sources of stress in your life. Yes, the mortgage if you have one will be there. But if you are doing things that make dealing with a mortgage, for example, difficult, such as not budgeting properly, you are going to be buried under a mountain of stress. If you work and depending on your profession, that can be a source of stress as well. Alot of workplaces are now adopting Mental Health and Wellness programs within their organizations.
- Take Care of Your Physical Health: Taking care of your physical health can also support good mental health. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly to support your overall well-being. A lot of retired military veterans look at physical health such as exercise as just a reminder of their career and, for the most part, avoid it. But doing something such as walking or even bicycling can be of benefit.
To close out, mental health is a critical component of our overall well-being. By us being able to have a greater understanding of the importance of mental health and taking steps to support it, we can improve our quality of life and reduce the risk of developing mental health problems or if you do have such conditions a better understanding of how to manage it.
The Rolling Barrage PTSD Foundation / The Rolling Barrage