Disregarded and abused in some way by so many people who should have loved her, Catie’s self-concept has been crushed. She can’t see her own worth. Her new colleague and friend Marcy sees it. All that Catie has survived, all that she has become–mother, caregiver to children orphaned or abandoned or delivered to daycare by loving parents off to work, devout Greek Catholic buoyed by her faith, selfless weaver, supportive friend–Marcy believes has made Catie a true, real-life Wonder Woman. Catie thinks Marcy is ridiculous.
Here’s food for thought in the literal sense: The food you eat directly affects your thoughts, emotions, behaviors, energy level, and overall wellbeing. The mind and body are intricately connected (beyond mere connection — they’re one fluid system), and nourishing both keeps your feeling physically and mentally healthy. A crucial component of our overall health and wellbeing that many of us often overlook (I’ve been guilty) is nutrition. Food for healthy thoughts: You need good food for great functioning and quality of life.
Acceptance is a vital part of wellbeing and mental health. The word can be misleading, however. If I’m told, for example, that I just need to accept my anxiety, I might think that there’s no use trying to beat anxiety and that I just need to resign myself to it and retreat. Thank goodness that is not what acceptance means in the world of mental health. We don’t have to accept that we live with any mental health challenge. What, then, is acceptance? Acceptance is a concept that is empowering and puts you in control of your mental health and wellbeing.
The idea of creating happiness can sound absurd when you’re facing hardship. Sometimes, life makes people want to stop, turn around, and retreat to bed indefinitely. This can make a whole lot of sense, because life can be incredibly stressful. A burdensome struggle, even. No one is exempt from times of hardship. Further, sometimes people deal with extra challenges such as mental illness, abuse, trauma, loss, and more. How do you—how does anyone—keep from retreating? How do you smile and even find happiness in the face of strife?
Anxious. Unsettled. Uneasy. Agitated. Frustrated. Tense. Racing thoughts. Obsessive thoughts. Rumination. Headache. Heartburn. Chest pain. Lump in your throat. Clenched jaw.
This list could continue on and on. And it does continue within us. These are some of the things we can experience when we’re anxious. There’s a way to deal with being anxious both right now and going forward.
While I’m not one to tell people what to do, I will say this anyway: You need to celebrate stuff every day. Intentionally seeking things to celebrate on a daily basis increases your sense of wellbeing and your life satisfaction. Finding or creating things to celebrate, even if they are minuscule, is a way of making a good life lived in moments (as opposed to chaotic chunks). Identify the good and taking a moment (or multiple moments) to celebrate it shifts your perspective in a positive direction and infuses your life with a sense of meaning.
Wellbeing and mindfulness aren’t just for retreats, spas, and other calm environments. Quite the opposite is true, in fact. While placing yourself in a soothing environment, like sitting in a favorite room in the morning while enjoying a cup of tea, is important for calming mind and body, the power of mindfulness can be fully experienced in the midst of chaos.
As parents, teachers, and caregivers of children, we are constantly focused on each child’s wellbeing: “Did you brush your teeth?” “Did you finish your dinner?” “Did you put on sunscreen?” But, are we concentrated on their mental wellbeing? It’s an important question to pose, as mental health should be valued as highly as our children’s’ physical health. Alarmingly, according to experts, 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. Good mental health provides children with the life-long ability to cope with difficult circumstances and situations.
Among the many types of freedom, mental freedom is perhaps the most important of all. Every year in early July, the United States celebrates Independence Day. Many nations joyfully observe their own independence at various times throughout the year. Regardless of where one lives, an independence day is a day that celebrates freedom from unwanted control. The significance of this day goes far deeper than the political realm and touches each and every one of us on a personal level of being and impacts our mental freedom and wellbeing. .
To live well and embrace a life of wellbeing, we need to experience mental freedom. When we feel as though we are under the control of anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, brain injury, toxic relationships, or so much more, we often feel caged. Our mental health and happiness suffer. Just as entire nations have broken free from unwanted control, so can we as individuals who want to live quality lives.