Most People Are About As Happy As They Make Up Their Minds To Be
Good physical health benefits Mental Health. Some categories focused on in this section include:
Diet – there is evidence that nutrition boosts mental health and is an important factor in treating stress, depression, aggression, and even ADHD. Nutrition is fundamental in eating disorders and an element of self-esteem is associated with body size and shape.
Eat regularly to maintain blood sugar levels, which affect mood
Caffeine and sugar may give your mood a quick boost but wear off very quickly leading to low mood, tiredness and aggression
Drinking an excess of alcohol, whilst it may initially reduce tension, leads to low mood, irritability, increased anxiety and panic, aggression and depression. It increases self-harm.
For some recipe ideas on feeding your mind, visit ‘feeding minds’ at www.mental health.org.uk
Sleep – getting a good night’s sleep is essential for mental health since it allows your brain to make important neural connections whilst you rest, helping strengthen learning and memory. Inadequate or poor quality sleep affects mood, increases irritability, prompts depression, impacts on concentration and can even increase weight through altering metabolism and influencing hormones that affect appetite.
Exercise – Several studies have confirmed that exercise could be a powerful intervention for clinical depression, as a way of reducing stress and anxiety, helpful in controlling panic-attacks, enhancing self-esteem and boosting self-confidence. Endurance sports can help with planning ahead and providing tools to develop ‘mental endurance’. Team sports helps us to work together and to experience healthy competition as well as how to adjust to failure. In addition, exercise releases endorphins, our ‘feel good chemicals’ Creativity - Doing creative things is fun. It helps us to relax and also to express ourselves. Creativity boost self-esteem and confidence and reduces stress. Being active helps us to feel effective and provides us with invaluable ways to build on being positive and productive.
Positive thinking gives you the choice to evaluate an outcome in an optimistic but balanced way. It isn’t about having ‘rose tinted spectacles, its about being able to weigh both sides of a problem – negative and positive. Positive thinking makes failure or difficult experiences easier since it provides hope and a way to move forward. As Lincoln is quoted saying ‘Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.’ Positive thinking helps to make the most of situations, to alter outcomes and to take on new challenges. It has been associated with reducing stress and anxiety, reducing depression, changing the need to rely on substances to cope with negative emotions thereby avoiding a possible addiction. It improves self-efficacy, enhances happiness, and provides effective problem solving tools.
Laughter reduces stress by reducing stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (adrenalin) and increasing endorphins our ‘feel good’ hormones. Knowing your emotions, understanding how your emotions work and learning to express them and regulate them are very important since unidentified and unmanaged emotions often lead us to behave and think in unhelpful and negative ways, increasing anxiety, depression, self-harm, leading to a drive to addiction or dependency and increasing the expression of aggression/anger. Emotions can be comforting and connect us to others and to ourselves. They help us to make better decisions and to make choices.
The interaction we have with people, whether they are ‘strong’ connections such as those with people we know and are close to or ‘weak’ connections such as the person we sit next to on the tube or the person at the check-out that we only see once; all affect the way we feel about life. Close relationships keep us grounded and influence our happiness. They provide psychological space and safety, which in turn helps us to learn and explore. Engaging positively with people we don’t know, such as smiling, helps us feel that we belong to a larger community and can increase our sense of self-worth. Engaging negatively with people such as being hostile or aggressive is more likely to lead to isolation and low mood. Researchers report that people with strong connections have less stress related health conditions, lower risk of mental illness and faster recovery from trauma and illness.
Some Pursue Happiness; Others Create It
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