The Importance of Mental Health Hygiene: Learn to Live Not Just Survive


In most cases, when people reflect on the meaning of health, they recognize nutrition and exercise as fundamental components associated with wellness. And while nutrition and exercise are recognized as two essential elements necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, mental health is often overlooked. In today’s fast paced world of gadgets, projects, and work commitments, the importance of mental health ranks low, if it at all, on the daily “To Do List.” Despite the growing body of empirical evidence that confirms numerous health-related ailments attributed to prolonged stress such as high blood pressure, fatigue, gastro-intestinal problems, sleep disturbances, irritability, depression, and headaches, mental health is often overlooked. Perhaps mental health hygiene is easily dismissed because its symptom manifestation fails to surface in palpable ways unlike medical conditions that are assessed with instruments leading to tangible outcomes. Outcomes that are intangible and unexplained are often discredited, shunned, or dismissed because they fail to produce quantifiable measures with consistent results.

The propensity for society to address stress-related symptoms with pharmaceutical treatment is on the rise. The fast acting remedies allow people to continue to push themselves further without becoming aware of the underlying causal factors that tend to implicate both the body and mind. Failure to address the causal agents that lurk beneath the daily activities of life may cause simple to treat conditions to graduate into needless chronic diseases. As such, learning to listen to your body and what it’s attempting to tell you should take priority. Understand that your body holds an innate wisdom that will send you alerts indicating it is time to slow down, recharge, and replenish. As such, honor your body and treat it with respect. Learn to listen to its needs and what it is trying to communicate to you. To help create a balanced lifestyle, find an activity that regenerates you such as taking up a hobby, schedule a walk in nature, register for that salsa class you have always put off, take to the mat with yoga, learn to meditate, attend a workshop on health and wellness, or simply use heart-centered breathing to help you center yourself daily. Whatever you choose, learn to invite new experiences into your life that allow you to balance your personal and professional paths. My humble philosophy is that you can only give to others that which you have to give. Hence, as a parent, spouse, student, or employee, take care of yourself emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, and physically for they are all intertwined in the beautiful tapestry called life.

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