Mental Wellness Month2Did you know that January has been designated as national Mental Wellness Month? Originally established by the International Association of Insurance Professionals (IAIP), the purpose of the month is to recognize preventive strategies and activities that promote overall mental wellness.

The term “mental wellness” is used rather than “mental health,” because the IAIP thinks that mental wellness is not just the absence of mental illness -- just like physical wellness involves more than the absence of a particular illness.

The World Health Organization has defined the term 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 is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” At Perry Wellness Center, we try to build a total wellness approach, with an emphasis on everything from exercise and nutrition to getting enough sleep and coping with stress.

January, a time of New Year’s resolutions and fresh starts, is a good time to do your own wellness check. That includes taking a look at some of the potential threats to mental illness. An individual’s emotional well-being can be placed at risk by many common factors, including financial problems, work issues, problems in relationships, or chronic illness. Increased stress and feelings of being overwhelmed can signal overload and the need for better coping skills.

So start by taking inventory of your own life status. Are there things you need to get under better control, or do you need to seek assistance in learning new skills for coping? Consider these four dimensions of mental wellness to judge:

    • Thoughts – A positive attitude gives us all a better perspective on our lives, while self-doubt can keep us from meeting our goals.
    • Bodily functions – Stress produces many physical symptoms, such as changes in appetite or sleep, muscle tensions, rapid pulse, etc. Over time, these affect your brain and body chemistry.
    • Behaviors – Isolating oneself from or lashing out at others, engaging in risky behaviors, or other negative changes in behaviors can signal a loss of mental wellness.
    • Emotions – Mood swings, including feelings of depression, can be a symptom of decreased mental wellness. Everyone feels moody at times, but frequent mood changes or prolonged negative emotions may indicate a need for professional attention.

Stay tuned, and we’ll be back next week with some tips for improving mental wellness!

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