I’m a drug counselor and prevention specialist (among other things … as a nerd). So, the first thing I think of is in the arena of drug use and addiction. While that’s totally valid, it applies equally well to other types of mental health conditions, whether they rise to a level of diagnosis or not.
By that I mean that you can have feelings of anxiety or have little habits that may be typical of obsessive compulsive disorder, or maybe you’re depressed a good deal of time, for example. However, all of this may not represent a condition that can officially be diagnosed, because they don’t rise to that clinical level that an official diagnosis requires, that can be offered up to the insurance companies for reimbursement for treatment.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not real or not difficult to deal with!
Plus, more and more people are realizing that if you don’t have a mental health condition, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have good mental health.
Let’s explore some benefits of having mental health treatment, be it for addictions or some other problem. You might feel less anxious. You might have better moods. You may be focusing more clearly, and you might have a sense of calmness or inner peace, more than ever before. You might also feel better about yourself (self-esteem) and about your ability to accomplish certain things (self-efficacy). You may not be feeling depressed as much or as often. Perhaps your relationships with others have also improved. You might feel more in charge of your life. All of this is great and kudos to you if you have achieved any or all of this! It’s something to be proud of.
Now let’s look at prevention. Have you given much thought to how you can prevent mental health issues from happening? What if you made yourself so healthy, that you would find yourself able to cope with just about anything that might come your way? Or what if you would instantly reach out to get some healthy assistance coping with something very large and you handled it really well?
Basically, living your life in a healthy manner will give you lots of insulation from developing mental health issues, like turning to substance use, or living with anxiety and depression, plus a host of other things. What if you have some genetic influence leading you to a condition like obsessive compulsive disorder, and yet you could successfully prevent those genes from expressing themselves through lifestyle?
Folks, it’s really true! Prevention – or living a very healthy lifestyle – will give you a definite edge on preventing mental health issues from forming and certainly will help you cope with things that inevitably come your way, like dealing with the loss of a loved one.
One of the best ways you can prevent a lot of mental stress is to have an exercise program of some sort that you can really enjoy as it acts as a preventative both physiologically and mentally/emotionally. It’s important to do activities that you enjoy, or you might be very interested in not keeping your program up! But you can experience better memory and clear thinking, have a better self-esteem, sleep better, have more energy, and be more resilient. So, if you think you need more movement in your life, you can start by increasing the steps you take in a day, or you can swim, go bike riding, skating, skydiving, dancing … the sky’s the limit.
It is my opinion that everyone can benefit from some mental health counseling, whether you have a condition or not. It’s all about self-reflection, growth, looking deeply inside and improving yourself. There’s always self-help available, as well, in the form of books, workbooks, journaling, taking courses, etc. Today we have health and wellness coaching available, as well as counseling. Both roads lead to better mental health!
If you follow what I write, then you know I am really big on nutrition for mental health and that includes some well-placed supplements (always work with a competent health care professional and be careful if you’re on meds). Obviously, it is important to take out the junky food, although there are some wonderful “junk foods” that are made with healthy ingredients in a health-giving manner, so you could just make some substitutions! Beware of the sugar trap – even if you don’t like the healthier sugar substitutes, using small to moderate amounts of sugar (even in the form of fruits) or maple syrup or honey, etc. can lead you right into physical illness plus mental illness. So can bread and other grains (even the healthier, whole ones), pasta, etc. Think food-mood connection! It’s real and succinct.
It stands to reason that if you make some alterations in your lifestyle habits, you won’t find yourself in the trap of mental (or physical) illness. Or you can lessen its intensity while you work your way out of it. But if you already have some conditions and concerns – not to worry! Changing to a healthier lifestyle and getting some excellent quality care will go a long way towards healing.
What’s the saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Well, if you prevent something from happening, then you won’t have to fix it! But if you have to fix it, we have many, many sound tools for your long-term, permanent recovery.
And as always, please have a happy, holistically healthy day!
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