Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Mental illness concerns are on the rise in the United States due to environmental and genetic factors. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
- One in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness.
- 44,965 Americans die by suicide every year.
- In 2016, an estimated 10.4 million adults (4.2%) in the U.S. had a serious mental illness (SMI).
- In 2016, an estimated 16.2 million adults (6.7%) in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.
- Each year, anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in the U.S. aged 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population.
- An estimated 31.1% of adults in the U.S. experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives.
Although these statistics are alarming, there are things we can do to foster good mental health. One of those things is to bring our stress under control. Yes, we live in a fast-paced world where stress is part of life. Stress can be a motivator, and it helps us fine-tune our survival mechanisms that are critical to responding to danger. However, long-time exposure to stress can undermine our mental and physical health and become harmful. It is also true that profound physical and emotional erosion takes place when we do not take time to refuel. When we fail to do refuel, we can experience:
- Emotional and physical exhaustion
- Loss of meaning
- Loss of empathy
- Poor self-care
Don’t just be good to others, be good to yourself! Self-care doesn’t just happen, and it is not a passive process. It requires intentional actions to care for your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health. Here are six ways to maintain positive mental health.
1. Eat Well
Don’t treat your body like a trash can. A healthy diet is not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health.
2. Go Outside
Stop and smell the roses – literally. Take a break, get some fresh air, and feel the sun on your face.
Sleep deprivation can lead to serious health and physical problems. Make sure you get enough sleep every day.
4. Be Active
Exercising your body can help in many ways. Get your blood flowing and stretch your muscles.
5. Talk About Your Feelings
It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to talk about your feelings. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what you can to stay healthy. Do not be afraid to.
6. Seek Professional Help
We are not superman or superwoman! We all get tired or overwhelmed by how we feel or when things go wrong. If things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope, ask for help. For example:
- Join a support group like Weight Watchers or Alcoholics Anonymous to help you make changes to your life.
- Find a counselor to help you deal with your feelings or make a fresh start.
- Tell your primary physician and ask him/her to refer you to a counselor.
- Talk to your pastor/rabbi/imam.
Today make it your mission to prioritize your mental health. No matter who you are, we all need a daily dose of TLC to thrive!
The Salvation Army is here for you. You are not alone! If you need someone to talk to, contact The Salvation Army Emotional and Spiritual Care Hotline. Call: 844-458-HOPE (4673)