May is Mental Health Awareness month and just as “April showers” produce beautiful “May flowers”…Life’s painful tears can produce beautiful healing and growth through regular “Mental Health Check-ups.”

We all have a doctor we see regularly for annual physicals and those colds and minor illnesses that come up throughout the year.  We religiously schedule our teeth cleaning appointments with the dentist.  Women schedule annual gynecological exams, some people see a chiropractor on a regular basis, and many go to church weekly to nurture our soul. We know research has shown that taking care of our mental health is as essential as taking care of our physical and spiritual health.  But, how often do we schedule regular mental health check-ups?

There are 3 reasons why is it important to schedule regular Mental Health Check-ups with a professional counselor…

  1. The Present: To address any current issues you are facing.
  2. The Past: To determine if you have any unresolved issues from the past that are causing you disturbance in your current life.
  3. The Future: To develop effective life management skills to help you daily live the life you desire.

Once you are “healthy” mentally, checking in with your counselor on a regular basis helps address whatever issues may arise so that you maintain strong mental health throughout your lifespan.  In addition to physical health improvement, research has shown that nurturing our mental health leads to maintaining healthy relationships with intimate partners, family members and friends.

Along with Mental Health Check-ups…

There are 5 Essential Ways to achieve and maintain strong Mental Health:

1.     Practice Good Self-Care – practicing good self care is the most important step to mental wellness.  This involves, eating well, regular exercise, 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night and using relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing to reduce stress.

2. Build a Support System – people need people.  We all need to have relationships with people who are safe and with whom we can share our life’s journey.  Our support system can consist of our partner, family members or friends.

3. Resolve the Unresolved – most mental and emotional distress comes from unresolved issues.  These issues may stem from abuse, a lack of problem solving skills, or circumstances out of our control, but they must be resolved or they will affect our current and future mental wellbeing.

4. Nurture your Spiritual Beliefs – spiritual beliefs give us a sense of purpose, are usually the basis for our value system, and often give us hope and strength throughout our life’s journey so it is important to nurture our spirituality.

5. Laugh – studies have shown that laughing decreases pain, stress hormones, and anxiety.  It also helps increase blood flow to promote heart health.  Learning to laugh at yourself by not taking yourself so seriously and enjoying a good laugh with other people on a regular basis will also increase your relational bonds.

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Article Written by Crystal Hollenbeck