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In the last few decades, mental well-being has become a primary concern for companies trying to improve the employee experience. Mental wellness is a state of good mental health and/or the absence of mental illness. Being mentally healthy implies that your mind is in order and working in your best interests.
When mental wellness is maintained and nurtured, people can think, feel, and act in ways that improve their physical and social well-being.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is an integral component of mental well-being in which an individual:
· Recognises their abilities
· Can cope with everyday stresses of life
· Can work productively
· Can contribute to their community
Mental well-being is the ability to live as close to the way we want as possible.
In contrast, mental health is defined as specific signs and symptoms that cause significant and persistent emotional distress. The presence of such signs and symptoms constitutes a mental health problem.
Mental wellness is more than just the absence of mental illness. The concept of mental well-being is interconnected with the idea of mental health.
For example, stress, worry, loneliness, or sadness on the one hand, and happiness, life satisfaction, strong relationships, or personal growth, on the other hand, are variables that can make or break the continuum of mental well-being.
Having a grasp on this subject makes a significant difference in the quality of a person’s life. There are many ways one can cope with a mental illness and manage it successfully.
Making yourself a priority and taking care of your needs before catering to others is not easy.
Rarely a person with declined mental well-being can say that they are a priority to themselves.
Therefore, taking charge and taking care of your needs is the first step to a better life.
Good relationships are crucial for overall mental well-being. They can:
· Help build a sense of belonging and self-worth
· Allow people to share positive experiences and vent out the negative
· Provide emotional support
According to one of the longest conducted Harvard studies of 80+ years, close relationships, rather than money and fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.
There are lots of things a person could try to help build stronger and closer relationships, for example:
· Connect with your family daily if possible. Even if it is just a meal together or a coffee or tea break, you can tell each other about your day.
· Arrange a day out with friends you rarely get to spend time with.
· Instead of binge-watching Netflix shows, try turning off the TV and conversing or playing a game with your children, friends, or family.
· Have lunch with a co-worker.
· Volunteer at a community organisation, school, or hospital.
· Pay a visit to a friend or family member who requires assistance.
Social media, on the other hand, does not complement mental well-being.
The general rule is that you should not rely solely on technology or social media to build relationships.
It’s easy to become accustomed to only texting, messaging, or emailing people. Getting in touch with people that live far away from us using online chat is excellent. However, social media doesn’t promote good mental well-being; on the contrary.
After seven to nine hours of sleep per night, people are more alert and less prone to stress. Getting enough sleep can also help them remember things better.
Guided by the circadian internal watch, the body and brain repair themselves, strengthening the immune system (linked to mental health and well-being), boosting the stress response, and recharging the systems that help regulate emotions and consolidate memories and thoughts.
Although scientists are still trying to figure out all of the mechanisms, they have discovered that sleep disruption, which affects the neurotransmitters and stress hormone levels, among other things, can wreak havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation.
Therefore, adjusting your schedule to have more hours to get some sleep is the way to go.
As we all know, a healthy microbiome means a strong immune system. However, researchers show that the connection between the microbiome and the brain is much more critical.
Here’s how it all works. The brain and the gut are connected with the largest nerve in the body, called the vagus nerve. Therefore, the microbiome sends messages to the brain all the time, and the brain listens.
Collectively it weighs about 3 pounds which is almost the same amount as your brain.
Through our diet, we feed this organism, and they release chemicals sending messages to our brain using the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve is cranial nerve number ten, out of twelve, that originates in the brain stem and travels down the neck alongside the carotid arteries into your chest, and then branches out and sends out feelers to control the internal organs in the abdomen and chest, including the intestines.
It is the longest nerve that originates in the brain and controls the contractions in your gut, called peristalsis, and governs your heart rate. It is a vital nerve, which the microbiome uses to send messages to the brain.
By now, it’s common knowledge that people who are depressed and anxious have a different microbiome than those who aren’t.
With depression and anxiety, the microbiome has more harmful bacteria and produces inflammatory chemicals sending broken signals to the brain.
Good nutrition is a natural stress-reduction strategy. Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast, preferably of wholegrain cereals and fruits, and consume a variety of balanced meals throughout the day can work wonders.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel, reduce the risk of dementia and mental decline. On the other hand, processed food, sugar, large amounts of red meat, and fast food promotes harmful gut bacteria and an unhealthy microbiome.
Many studies showed that the role of genetics and long-lived happy ancestors proved less important to longevity than the level of satisfaction with meaningful relationships, better self-care, eating habits, and meditation/prayer. These are now recognised as good predictors of healthy aging and better overall mental wellness.
Violeta Bojkovska is the Content Manager at Shortlister, a passionate content writer and avid content consumer. She’s a short story author, guest post blogger, and a firm believer in the startup “zebra culture.” She loves to write about technology, startups and the ever-changing landscape of wellness.
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