Mental Health Month - Be Well

Contributed by guest blogger Marissa Yovetich of GoFit Dining. Learn more about Marissa and check out her previous posts about nutrition and stress.

“Be well”. We hear this short phrase all of the time but, what does “being well” really mean? It’s an active practice that involves the totality of our being; our physical bodies as well as our emotional and mental states. Think about it, our bodies are like parts of a machine and when each part is being properly maintained it works as a functioning unit. If we ignore one area we’re likely to have the “check engine” light pop on, which wreaks havoc throughout the body.

Oftentimes we find it easier to give attention to the physical components of our wellbeing and fail to address the emotional and mental components. The physical components tend to be those areas that are more fun to give attention to and produce visual results. When we workout consistently we experience the feel-good sensation of endorphins, improved cardiovascular health, muscular strength and the outward projections of these in our stronger physiques and uplifted moods all while doing activities we enjoy. Similarly, eating well gives us the opportunity to prepare new foods, or try new restaurants and cuisines. Enjoying these meals and a balance of fruits, veggies, protein and grains helps fuel and nourish our bodies causing us to feel better and experience improved physiques as well. Movin’ and groovin’ and chowing down are fun ways to “be well” physically but, when it comes to checking the light on our emotional and mental states, we tend to find that to be less attractive.

While it may not be as fun or attractive as doing a workout or trying a new restaurant, paying attention to our emotional and mental wellbeing is paramount to how we experience life. The thoughts we think, and allow ourselves to believe act as a thermostat setting the temperature for how we perceive ourselves and others. Entertaining negative thoughts can plant seeds of doubt, worry and anxiety. Left unchecked these seeds can take root and create false scenarios in our minds that distort the truth about our abilities and ultimately hinder our potential to reach new heights.

Let’s pause a moment...notice how negative thoughts start as seeds, something small. It’s those comments or split-second thoughts that seem insignificant that our subconscious mind latches onto that can cause distress. If we allow our minds to replay and meditate on these negative things, we increase our likelihood of experiencing a sense of mental un-wellbeing or mental illness.

Now, you may be thinking, “well, shoot, this sounds familiar but, I can’t be the only one, right?!” Right! You are not alone. We all battle with unchecked negative thoughts. This is normal but, leaving the thoughts unchecked is where we can run into trouble and destructive behaviors can result.  

Being aware of the thoughts we’re allowing into our minds is an important step to being able to shift our thinking to that of positivity because, we can’t change what we don’t know or choose to acknowledge. When positive seeds are planted in our minds our thoughts can help us RISE; renewing, inspiring, strengthening and equipping us for the road ahead.

Plant positive seeds, not weeds, in your mind & rise to new heights with the following practices:

R - Renew - Take time to laugh. Laughter acts as a reset button in your brain reducing anxiety!

→ GOAL:  Enjoy a daily laugh break with a YouTube video or your favorite television show. Not sure where to start? Check out this adorable YouTube clip: https://youtu.be/RP4abiHdQpc

I - Inspire - Unleash your inner artist. Whether it’s drawing, coloring, painting, knitting or doodling as little as 20 minutes of creativity can help clear your mind and brighten your mood.

→ GOAL:  Grab a sketch pad, post it notes, knitting needles + yarn or a coloring book and spend a little time each week being creative.

S - Strengthen - Strong bodies = strong minds! Enjoy a little movement in your day; whether it be a walk, game of hoops, softball, bowling, bike ride, gardening, jogging, hiking, or whatever suits your fancy, activity provides both healing and strengthening benefits. When we’re active we experience upwards of a 20% boost in our mental health (wowza!) - benefits are greatest when we’re active with others so, grab a friend and enjoy a natural boost.

→ GOAL: Be intentional. Ask a friend/family member to be a workout buddy and make plans to move and groove a bit each day. Remember, no amount of activity is too small. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. You are a ROCKSTAR!

E - Equip - Focus on the positive. We are we we think about the most. Keep positive thoughts, words and phrases on replay in your mind. When negative thoughts creep in, choose to turn the station and replay those positive recordings.

→ GOAL:  Choose a positive word or phrase to repeat in your mind. When your mind starts to wonder to negative thoughts repeat this word or phrase. In doing so you’re not only calming your mind, you’re actually encouraging and preparing yourself to experience good situations and a bright future!

*Reach Your Goals: Select an area to work on (renew, inspire, strengthen, equip) and take time to practice it throughout the week. Once you’ve mastered one area consider incorporating another. Pretty soon you’ll be ready to RISE!