Proactive not Reactive

I think this hit me today, that so much in the mental wellness world is reactive. When we think about mental health, it’s not usually in a positive way. The term “mental health” conjures up images of psychiatric wards and crazy people. These negative connotations make a topic that is already difficult to talk about even harder for someone to share with family and friends. Further, many of life’s experiences that impact our mental health can make us feel incredibly isolated, which is another factor that makes it difficult to share. Often when we are brave enough to express our worries, these can be shut down or diminished by well-meaning family and friends. Trite comments such as “you just need to be more positive” or “I’m sure you’re going to be OK” can trivialise how you feel. Knowing when your mental well-being is being compromised is only the first step, and often we don’t realise until too late how bad it really is.

An alternative way to approach mental health is from a proactive approach. If we focus on a holistic process of well-being and consider all facets of our lives, we start building capacity to cope with difficulties and improve our mental wellness. This concept of wellness is tricky, google it and you have an overwhelming amount of information. To simplify this for you, I look at mental wellness as driven by both internal and external factors that fall into four areas. This gives us eight domains of mental wellness.

When we look at each domain separately it becomes easier to identify little ways that we can improve on our wellness. Below is a short explanation on each domain of wellness. For the next eight weeks we will dive into each domain more fully (I’m setting myself some very strict deadlines here!!).

Physical Wellness: this domain relates specifically to nutrition, sleep and physical activity.

Environmental wellness: maintaining an environment that is pleasant and stimulating and support your wellness is incredibly important.

Emotional wellness: uses effective and supportive coping mechanisms for life’s ups and downs as well as giving you the capacity to create satisfying relationships.

Social wellness: engaging in social activities that build connection and belonging where you feel supported by others.

Intellectual wellness: living a life where you seek new knowledge and skills as well as recognising and using your creative skills.

Financial wellness: satisfaction with your current financial state and future financial situations.

Spiritual wellness: being able to connect with a sense of purpose and meaning in your life.

Occupational wellness: having a sense of enrichment and personal satisfaction within your working life.

In order to live a rich, full and meaningful life, we need to be able to make positive choices around our wellness to improve our situation. This allows us to look after our mental wellness in such a way that we can handle major impacts that could potentially upset our well-being significantly with grace and aplomb. This doesn’t mean we won’t get rattled, but it allows us to manage disaster better and bounce back quicker. Rather than shattering, we may only crack and getting ourselves back on track may take less time and effort due to our proactive stance on our mental wellness.

Tune in next week where we talk about physical wellness more fully.

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