We have all heard about body fitness, so what is mental health fitness and why should we pay attention to it? We live in a time when we are faced with rapidly increasing changes and challenges. Whether an adult or child, mental health fitness is important. To use a personal analogy, recently, after overcoming a chronic illness, I was able to get back into exercising. I found some of my limbs weren’t as responsive as they used to be, but, with ongoing effort, my flexibility and movement has continued to improve. I am feeling better each day, stronger, more productive, and able to do more.
The same applies when it comes to our mental health fitness. Our ability to respond effectively to whatever life brings us is vital to our overall functioning, helping us to embrace and/or grow through these changes. Being mentally fit prepares us for the unexpected and even expected changes and challenges. We are able to cope better and sometimes take on more than we thought possible. Undoubtedly, some changes are for the better and some not so much. With either, these transitions can bring a sense of loss of the old and familiar, even if we are happy with the new. There is sometimes, chaos, grief, uncertainty, and confusion, not just in us but in our loved ones, as they struggle to deal with the transitions we are going through.
I have had the privilege of helping clients work (and grow) through many different types of life challenges/changes? Some of these may resonate with you. Changes such as children going off to college and the resulting effects on younger siblings, or for some parents adjusting to an empty nest, becoming a new parent, children/teens adjusting to a new school or new grade, older adults dealing with changes in technology in their workplace, navigating and settling effectively into a new job, taking on more responsibility in a current job, changes in career, dealing with new or challenging co-workers, or relationship changes such as divorce or breakup. Other challenges/ changes I’ve helped clients with, include stressors related to moving into a new home (downsizing or upsizing), changes in lifestyle like managing and sticking to a healthier diet/life plan, adjusting to the move to a new city, changes in health or finances, dealing with the death of a loved one, life-stage changes affecting sexual desire/interests, or dealing with changes in the behaviors of family members and loved ones.
With life coming at us sometimes in all directions, I believe in taking a proactive approach to mental health fitness. This can look like having a regular practice of reading good self-help literature, exploring mind-body-spirit activities, taking workshops and classes that improve enhance one’s knowledge base, interpersonal and/or communication skills, or which improve our understanding of ourselves or others, or even checking in from time to time with a therapist or a good life-coach. In an article at the beginning of this year, David Sack, M.D. recently listed the “5 Important Reasons To Stop Ignoring Your Mental Health.” They included better physical health, improved productivity and financial stability, less strain on
Many therapies today are evidenced based and uniquely suited to proactive mental health fitness and personal growth. I encourage you to seek these out. To promote this proactive approach I will be offering some exciting programs for 2016. It’s a new year, check on your own mental health fitness. Now is the time to take charge it’s not too late!
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