Mental Health as Key to Overall Health…
Many people aspire to get into better shape. They get gym memberships to start working out, take up jogging at the park, or switch to a plant-based diet. These are all in line with wanting to look and feel better. Exercising and eating well are certainly ways to become healthy, but another important component when striving for overall health and fitness is taking care of your mental health.
We all experience emotional ups and downs: depression, anxiety, feelings of insecurities, traumas, loss, and abandonment. These are very serious situations that can take a toll on your mental health. If these are not tended to, they can leave you in very poor health. Just as eating non-nutritional foods or not getting enough physical exercise can lead to a decline in your overall health and lifestyle. Even if one is in top shape, but lacks the attention for managing a healthy mental state, they are missing the key to overall health. Having a balance within all three of these areas is the formula for comprehensive health and wellness.
1. What is Mental Health?
Mental health is composed of various aspects: your emotional well-being, psychological balance, and social interactions. These areas can affect how you think, feel, and behave. The idea of mental health is about how you manage these areas. For example, if you're feeling sad, how does this emotion affect your self-worth? How does it affect your social interactions? If nothing is done, the sadness can persist; it may even evolve into depression.
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You may feel very poor about yourself. As a result, you may isolate yourself and refrain from having contact with family and friends. On the spectrum of mental health, this may be considered on the lower end. The challenge is being able to shift from that lower end of the mental health spectrum to a place that feels more balanced and centered. The intention is for you to feel your very best; to live a life that is full of potential.
2. How to Manage Mental Health?
Acknowledging that you are not feeling the way that you prefer to feel is one of the first steps toward managing an imbalance in your mental health. Notice if your mood has slipped when it is usually brighter. Take a moment to recognize if you're using negative self-talk to describe yourself. And take inventory of how you might be acting around your friends. If any or all of these seem out of alignment for you, then perhaps some changes can be made to help you feel better.
Sometimes the act of acknowledging something is different will help you to move the line on the spectrum. For others, it may take something more active. Engaging in an activity can your shift toward feeling more centered and balanced. Remind yourself of your strengths; perhaps you are a kind and generous person, you are organized, helpful, entertaining, etc. Take part in activities you enjoy: roller skating, reading, photography, cooking, etc. Often a change in thinking and moving the mind and body can manage your mental health. Going for walks, dancing, or practicing yoga are other healthy physical activities that support internal mental changes.
If these do not initially trigger the shift you desire, do not feel ashamed to ask for help. Sometimes dealing with symptoms of depression or anxiety take more than just taking a walk in nature or cooking a healthy meal. Talk to someone you trust: a family member or friend. Let them know how you're feeling. Talk to a professional therapist. Find someone who will genuinely listen to you without judgement. If you're feeling down, it can feel like a heavy weight on your shoulders. Sharing how you feel with someone can help to lighten that load. Once that heaviness is removed, you're able to move more freely and see more clearly. That is the time, then, to engage in activities that will support your willingness to return to a healthier state of mind and body.
3. How Can Yoga Manage Mental Health?
3.1.Yoga for a balanced state of mind
If you're uncertain what activities can help move the line on the mental health spectrum toward the center, you may want to consider yoga. Yoga is a lifestyle based on ancient philosophical teachings. These principles were intended to guide the student toward a balanced state of mind and body as a pathway to spiritual enlightenment. These teachings are still relevant today; they are designed to bring a sense of balance, cohesion, vision, and centering to an individual who has drifted from their life path. In this modern era of yoga, practitioners are often seen attending classes in studios, gyms, community centers, and even in their own living rooms. With the guidance of a trained instructor, students learn about breath, the foundation of the yoga philosophy, as they tune into the emotional, mental, and physical states of the body.
3.2 Breathing as a cleansing practice
Breath is key when it comes to the yoga practice. It directs the attention of the practitioner inward. It is the element that allows the yogi to be more aware of their own mental health. Slow mindful breathing or even a moving meditation on the yoga mat is the action one takes to dismiss the distractions of the external world, to pay close attention to what's going on inside the mind and body. Yoga breath and movement creates a cleansing practice that sifts through the thoughts and feelings that contribute to imbalance in one's mental health. Yoga brings the body and mind to a place of stillness and clarity so you can identify the negative self-talk or the heaviness of depression or the physical impact of stress.
Through a consistent yoga practice, the imbalance in mental health is not only revealed, but also functions as the resource for retrieving balance. Yoga helps tap into those three aspects of mental health: emotional well-being, psychological balance, and social interactions. Through breath work to steady the mind and yoga postures to move good energy through the body, one's relationships with self and others improve. Yoga can also lead you down a path toward mindful, healthy eating, and a strong physical body.
Another positive aspect about yoga is that it does not take a lot of equipment and can be done just about anywhere. A yoga mat and towel may be all that you need to start (or re-start) your yoga practice. Majisports.com is a good resource if you're looking for a high quality yoga mat or other eco-friendly yoga props. Having these items available can motivate you to improve your own mental health. As a result of having managed mental health, you'll experience overall health, too.
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