Jennifer spent most of her childhood dreading the nights. During them, her mother would get drunk and yell at her. Sometimes if things were really bad, she moved from verbal to physical abuse.
It wasn’t until after her mother’s death that Jennifer discovered her mother had been frequently hospitalized in her early teens and twenties repeatedly for depression. That’s when Jennifer began to wonder if her mother’s drinking was a form of self-medication.
Although there was no excuse for mom’s abusive behavior, Jennifer began to view her childhood differently. She no longer saw her mom as an evil woman who hated her own daughter. Instead, she was able to look back with compassion and recognize that her mom was struggling with mental health issues on top of an alcohol addiction.
The revelation also spurred Jennifer to begin a journey of taking care of her own mental health. She’d always been proactive with her physical health by exercising regularly, trying to eat nutritious meals, and managing her stress. But now her ideal of “good health” included her mental health too.
Like Jennifer, you may not pay a lot of attention to your mental health. But it’s just as important to monitor your mental health as you do your physical health. Here’s why…
Reason #1: It’s Easy to Assume Everything Is Fine
When Anna went to her yearly doctor’s appointment, she was shocked to learn she had dangerously high blood pressure. There had been no family history of the condition, so she’d never thought about it.
More than that, Anna didn’t feel bad. She felt like her normal self despite the fact that her dangerously high blood pressure could have led to a stroke or heart attack at any moment.
It’s the same concept with your mental health. Some mental health problems seem to have no symptoms or if there are symptoms, you dismiss them as stress. There may not even be a family history of mental health problems in your genes.
But taking the time to check your mental health can be just as lifesaving as learning that you have high blood pressure.
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Reason #2: A Lack of Disease Doesn’t Equal Health
If you’ve never had a major disease then you might assume that you’re perfectly healthy. After all, that’s what Denise did. She thought because she was in her mid-thirties and she didn’t have a major disease like Multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s disease that she was perfectly fine.
It wasn’t until she was out of breath trying to keep up with her toddler one day that Denise had an epiphany. She realized that a lack of disease didn’t make her healthy. But rather that her health was something she had to take responsibility for and do her best to improve.
Like Denise, you may think that you’re mentally healthy simply because you don’t have a condition like anxiety or depression. But being free from conditions like these is only half the picture. It’s also important to consider the type of content you’re feeding your mind, how often you’re venting your feelings, and what you’re doing to regularly exercise your mind.
Reason #3: Catch the Little Things Now
Mandy was gifted a massage for Christmas from her boss. She’d never had one before and she wasn’t too sure about having a stranger touch her. But she went ahead and made the appointment. She figured she’d try it at least once.
The masseuse that Mandy saw gave her a gentle massage then told her before she left that there was a spot on her shoulder that she should see a doctor for. Mandy booked an appointment with a dermatologist who removed the spot and later informed her that it had been pre-cancerous.
In the same way, going in for a mental health checkup and talking to a therapist or counselor can open your eyes to little things before they become big things. Perhaps your counselor can advise you that your low-level anxiety is going to become worse unless you deal with it. Maybe your therapist helps you recognize unhealthy patterns in your marriage that are slowly destroying your self-esteem.
Reason #4: Understand Mental Health Can Change
Your mental health is not static just as your physical health is not. It can and does change as you experience different life events. For example, Tanya suffered from depression since she was a teenager. Although it was difficult, she managed the condition for years without medication.
But after the death of her husband, Tanya knew she needed more help. Her doctor prescribed her an anti-depressant to help her navigate her grief. After three years, Tanya was able to wean off the medication with her doctor’s supervision.
It’s not just bad life events like losing a loved one or being involved in a serious auto accident that can affect your mental health. Good events may also improve it, even if only temporarily. This can lead to false feelings of wellness and that’s why it’s important that you continue to monitor your mental health throughout your lifetime.
Reason #5: Your Mental Health Affects Your Relationships
Sara was traveling on an airplane and listening to the stewardess explain how to use the oxygen mask in an event of an emergency. But she was shocked when the woman recommended putting on her own oxygen mask before putting a mask on her disabled father, her husband, or even her child.
Then the stewardess went on to say that taking care of yourself before you take care of others is important. That’s because you can’t help others when you don’t first help yourself.
The simple truth is that when you’re feeling poorly physically, you’re not able to show up as your best self. It’s the same with your mental health. You may find yourself short-tempered, apathetic, or even too depressed to help those you love.
But when you’re in a good place mentally, you’re able to be a more compassionate listener, a kinder friend, and a more supportive spouse. That’s because you have all of your own needs met and your oxygen mask is firmly in place.
Reason #6: Your Mental Health Changes Your Energy Levels
Yvette had always felt uncomfortable in social situations. But having a panic attack when she was shopping at her local mall left Yvette feeling anxious. She dreaded the next one and tried to avoid leaving her home except for work and to buy groceries.
When you’re not feeling good during the flu, you lack energy. Just like that, if you’re not feeling good mentally, you may lack energy and find it difficult to get through the day.
This can lead you to make choices that shortchange you in other areas of life such as using caffeine and junk food to get through the day, zoning out in front of the TV instead of exercising, and avoiding social situation instead of going out with friends.
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This can be hard to grasp when your mental health is poor and you’re struggling just to get through each day. But you matter. Even if things look dim in this moment, the fact that you’re still here means the Universe still has a beautiful purpose for your life.
Grab this FREE workbook to help you take charge of your mental health.