Mental Health

For those of you that do not know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I hope you know that mental health is just as important as physical health. People tend to prioritize one over the other, but both are part of your well-being. Your physical health doesn’t matter if your mental health is in shambles, and vice versa.

Your mental health encompasses a lot and does a lot for you. According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health is, “emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” In other words, mental health is important. If my day is off and I’m upset, I tend to get more irritable when I have to make decisions.

I included the part of the definition about stress for a very good reason. Too much stress is detrimental to you, both physically and mentally. I have a busy week this week, and it’s causing me a lot of stress. But I just know that will make my vacation more worthwhile. Comparatively, my to-do list is much smaller than a normal week during the school year, but that doesn’t mean I am any less busy. I am trying to work ahead on my homework so that I do not have to do it while I am on vacation. But I am pretty crunched for time. I’m working on managing my time to get it all done in time.

It is important to be conscious of your mental health. There are days when I struggle to do anything productive, and there are days where I am going all day and killing it at being productive. But for the most part, I don’t force myself to be productive. That won’t do any good for my mental health, and I’ll just be more exhausted.

The other day, I got a little wrapped up in my head. Nothing was inherently wrong, I just didn’t want to do anything and I was on the verge of throwing myself a pity party. I realized that I hadn’t moved in a while and that moving would help me feel better. So after looking through songs, I decided to get up and dance. I haven’t danced in a while, and I forgot how good it felt. Rather than throwing myself a pity party, I ended up throwing myself a dance party. Yes, dancing has physical benefits to your health, but I did it more for my mental health.

Recently there has been a big push for mental health, which is awesome! Mental health is super important. However, this push has caused for overemphasis. I see stickers on my college’s campus that say “More free therapy. Less free football.” Those stickers bother me a lot actually. Yes, I think therapy and other mental health resources should be more accessible for the majority of people. But sports and physical activity are important too. They are both equally important.

The best way I can think of this is to think of a bodybuilder. Let’s say this person only concentrates on building their torso and arms. They have clearly defined abs and bulging muscles. However, their legs are small and scrawny. They don’t work on their legs, so those muscles do not develop as much. To me, this is an example of physical and mental health. Both are equally important. If you only focus on one, that is the only one that is going to grow, and you will become off-balance. You need to be focusing on your physical health as well as your mental health.

Let me give you a more personal example. I had a little bit of a frustrating day last Monday. Minor things happened, but it set me off quite a bit. I went for a bike ride to clear my mind. However, that was kind of a frustrating ride. My app stopped tracking my workout, my headphones were not cooperating, and I was not getting good songs. So while it was good for my physical health, it did next to nothing for my mental health. The next day, I went to King’s Island with my sister and one of my best friends. We walked around a lot, which was probably beneficial for my physical health, but it helped clear my mind and improve my mental health. Between the two days, I did two drastically different things. But both improved different aspects of my health.

I am not saying that you have to be super active to be physically healthy. Every person is different. I am just saying that you can’t neglect one over the other. Mental health is EQUALLY important as physical health. One does not carry more weight than the other. Your well-being and health is determined by all parts of you. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be an uneven bodybuilder. I want all parts of me to be equally strong.

May is mental health awareness month, which is what inspired me to write this. Be aware of your mental health as well as your physical health and work to improve both. Don’t prioritize one over the other. It all works together to create you.

P.S. There will be no blog post next week! I will be on vacation!

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