(First of two parts)
This troubled time we’re living in feels like one big stressor, doesn’t it? With restrictions on one side, confusion on the other, and uncertainty all around, mental hygiene has really become more vital than ever.
Mental hygiene is the adoption and application of principles to take care of the mind. It’s a psychological discipline, as compared to the neurological sciences, which deal with the brain. Simply put, mental hygiene is the science of managing mental health.
Mental health is defined as one’s cognitive, emotional, and behavioral well-being – which is a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? Breaking it down, you’re in a pretty good state of mental health if, more often than not, you are:
- thinking clearly,
- feeling positive, and
- behaving productively, or at least not destructively.
In short, mental health means a lot more than just not being crazy. In fact, psychologists and psychiatrists, nowadays, strongly discourage the very term ‘crazy’, because we all have problems, we all have stress, we all have issues that we’re dealing with. It’s only when these issues prevent us from functioning that we call them ‘disorders’.
But just because you don’t have a disorder, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re mentally healthy – and if you do have a disorder, it doesn’t mean that you can’t become mentally healthy. There’s no magic solution that works for every individual, but mental hygiene can help you become the positive, resilient, balanced person you want to be.
Here are a few things you might want to try, to start practicing mental hygiene:
- Just take a pause, when you’re feeling fraught or overwhelmed. You might be surprised to see how much calm and perspective a few deep breaths can bring.
- Indulge in a little self-care, free of guilt. Whether it’s a nap, an extra latte or the occasional K-Drama, the boost to your well-being is well worth it.
- Laugh, without self-consciousness. If feel-good kitten posters just tickle you, go ahead and enjoy! It’s good, and not just for you – laughter can be contagious.
- Forgive others and yourself. This one isn’t so easy – until you actually do it. Once you feel that weight lifted off your shoulders, it’ll get easier every time.
- Value your weaknesses. Quit blaming yourself for not being perfect –imperfections just mean you have room to keep growing and learning.