When you think about health and wellness do you consider your mental health? If you answered “no”, you are not alone. Western society typically equates wellness with physical aspects such as maintaining a proper diet and regular exercise (Fahlberg and Fahlberg, 1998). Although those dimensions of wellness play key roles in our health, it is important to also put equal emphasis on our psyche.
As a licensed psychologist, I have witnessed firsthand the negative impact to a person’s overall wellness that can result from poor mental health. In my private practice, many clients are often referred for psychotherapy treatment by their primary care provider due to exacerbated medical problems which correspond with a number of psychological symptoms such as an overwhelming sense of sadness, unsubstantiated fear, or even regular temper outbursts.
One such instance involved a young, middle-class woman with high blood pressure. As is the case for many clients, she reluctantly entered treatment despite her physician’s suggestion. She initially reasoned that psychotherapy was unnecessary given that she was medically treated, compliant with medications and maintained a healthy diet and exercise routine.
As treatment progressed, she became increasingly aware of the stressors in her life and recognized she may have minimized their negative impact on her health. Her investment in therapy coupled with her medical treatment eventually rendered positive results that included greater life satisfaction, improvement in sleep and appetite, self-care, and a reduction in mental health symptoms. This case and many others that I have encountered in my clinical work demonstrate that medical conditions initially evaluated to be solely biological are not fully treated until the mind-body connection is addressed.
Whether a person is attempting to rebound from high blood pressure or other medical conditions such as chronic pain, integrative care, defined by a holistic approach to treatment, is ideal. However, why wait for a medical condition to arise before taking active preventative steps toward developing a healthy mind?
Reflect on the last time you consciously created personal goals that enhanced or maintained good mental health. If your response indicates that it has been a while since you showed your psyche some attention, consider the following:
Think about an activity you once found enjoyable and uplifting and consider revisiting it.
Take 15 minutes to write down all the things for which you are grateful.
Select a guided meditation on YouTube and begin practicing it twice a week.
We have one life to live, make it glorious by making your mental health a priority.
Fahlberg, L.L., & Fahlberg, L. A. (1998). Wellness re-examined: A cross-cultural perspective. American Journal of Health Studies, 13 (1), 8-18.