As a society currently under siege by a global pandemic, we are facing risks to both our physical and mental health. In response to growing concerns, there has been an increase in research as well as in mental health counseling programs as we cope with issues such as death, unemployment and isolation.

Like physical health, we require robust, emotional functions in order to survive as well as to thrive. In order to comprehend the impact that these worldwide issues are having on our psychological make-up, we must first understand what mental health is and why it is important.

How often do you check in with your own mental health? Being aware of your emotions and/or how personal difficulties could be affecting you is key in maintaining optimal, mental well-being.

1. The Trifecta Of Mental Wellness

Mental wellness can be defined by three components; emotional, social and psychological well-being. The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

In order for you to experience a positive mental state, balance between these factors needs to be achieved. In the absence of harmony, illness can occur, which can affect your mental health.

Emotional well-being involves awareness around your feelings; understanding what they are and why you are experiencing them. You can use this awareness to propel yourself forward into affirmative action, as opposed to being controlled by your emotions; particularly those of fear and anxiety.

Social well-being is the ability to cultivate positive relationships with other people. Supportive and caring relationships can help us feel more connected to one another and in turn, these connections can help defend against loneliness and isolation.

Psychological well-being is the ability to exist within a general state of happiness and emotional balance. It isn’t realistic to assume that you will always feel content but aside from occasional upsets, most concerns will not have a serious impact on someone who is psychologically healthy.

It should also be noted that people who possess mental wellness are usually in good physical health, as well. Studies have shown that stress, anxiety and depression have an effect on areas such as sleep quality, blood pressure, body weight and even alcohol consumption.

When one or all three of these components are negatively affected over a significant period of time, you may require mental health help.

2. Social Creatures At Risk

Currently, the mental health of many of us is being challenged as a result of self-isolation and social distancing. The component of social well-being is under threat; particularly for those who identify as extroverts.

In addition to physical separation from our loved ones and friends, we are also experiencing an unprecedented time of great uncertainty with regards to the economy, our valued communities and general health matters. Now more than ever, it is important to remain cognizant of your own emotional well-being.

It may be helpful to understand the effects of prolonged, mandatory isolation, in order to put the situation in perspective. This can otherwise be referred to as compartmentalization, which is a defense mechanism against mental unease.

  • Depression and lethargy as a result of our worlds shrinking in scope

  • Anxiety with regards to the unknown future

  • Confusion over conflicting and/or differing information

  • Anger and frustration

  • Grief over the loss of our jobs and/or our daily routines

As mentioned, one key aspect to emotional well-being is the ability to identify your feelings and to examine them objectively. Unless you were already suffering from a mental illness prior to the COVID-19, the effects noted above are most likely situational and thus, can change once the situation itself is resolved.

To recap, while your emotions may seem insurmountable, all of this is temporary.

3. Empowering Yourself and Others

Even within a limited scope, it is possible to improve your mental health through positive coping mechanisms and by supporting others around you. While physical distancing is required, you can still maintain social ties through the use of creativity and technology.

Research has shown a complex relationship between self-confidence and mental health. While your self-confidence may have taken a hit during these difficult times, assuming a proactive approach can help you to regain some control over certain aspects of your life.

We invite you to try these suggestions:

  • Focus on your personal hygiene

  • Wear colors and/or clothing that makes you feel good

  • Make a list of your positive attributes and strengths

  • Nourish your body with a healthy diet and enjoy daily exercise

  • Engage in a hobby that you enjoy

Connecting with loved ones can also enhance your social well-being. There are many, innovative ways in which you can maintain and enrich your current relationships.

Recently there has been a surge in online events and workshops as people move indoors. Online forums provide a platform where we can see one another via video in order to share information, education and even entertainment.

4. Mental Help Programs

You can also improve your self-confidence and well-being with the help of mental health counseling programs. Online mental health chat forums are a great way to receive support and to meet others who are experiencing similar difficulties.

If you find yourself in crisis, you can also call a mental health helpline in order to receive free, confidential help from a licensed professional. While physical access to clinics may be limited at this time, certain mental health treatment centers will remain open for those who have been referred to by a doctor.

In these times of grave insecurity, it is especially important to look after your mental health. If you find that you may be experiencing difficulties coping, mental health assistance is available.

We encourage you to explore accredited mental health counseling programs. Even in captivity, it is possible to empower yourself and to gain control over your mental wellness.

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