Mental health can be described as:
“... a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
—World Health Organization
Besides this rather succinct definition, we all have our times of madness—where our mental health runs astray. We don’t have to be neurotic or psychotic to have mental health challenges. This is good news as it makes us feel less isolated when parts of our lives don’t go according to the plans we have of them and we respond poorly.
These following are four areas of focus to promote our mental health.
1. Actualising Our Abilities
We all need to feel capable to do things. Having a good understanding of our abilities and our capacities is a true blessing, for through such a position we have a platform for continued growth.
Our abilities are connected with our dreams. We all want to reach for the sky in some areas of our lives. Having the opportunities to actualise our abilities is what we all richly desire.
Let us be courageous enough to chase those dreams.
2. Coping with the Stresses of Life
Stressors come in all shapes and forms, and there is a time for every one of them.
If good mental health is about coping with the normal stresses of life, we are allowed times when we do not cope—when there are stresses abnormal to life.
Our ordinary goal in this area should be to build resilience. The ability to bounce back upon setbacks will characterise us as able to cope with the normal stresses. But because stress is an abstract concept we shouldn’t get too hung up about coping and not coping, what we can endure and what we can’t.
Instead, we cope the best we can. We allow God’s grace to permeate our lives.
3. Achieving Purpose in Our Vocation
Many, many people in our world live for a purpose that pivots on their vocation. When we work and we gain meaning for our work and we can see we are productive, and our work bears fruit, we gain a great deal of satisfaction.
This proves that work—paid or unpaid—is a blessing.
Our identities are sewn into our vocations. When we are dissatisfied with our work it may have an eventual impact on our mental health. Vocational dissatisfaction will place our identities in crisis. The way to better mental health is to create alignment.
We need work that satisfies us.
4. Contributing to Our Community
Volunteering is a healthy trend in most areas of the world today. Contributing within our communities not only aids others, there is a personal payoff too.
But still too many people are isolated, safely cocooned in their own lives. Having no outlet of contribution within the community is one mode of mental health starvation. This is one reason why belonging within a church framework is good. Church more often than not facilitates work that might be done in the community.
Sound mental health is of prime concern to all of us. There are four things we can do to nurture our mental health: 1) utilise our abilities; 2) cope with stress; 3) gain meaning from our work; and, 4) make a contribution to our community.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.