According to the World Health Organization, there is no health without mental health. Many of us have heard this saying before and understand the importance of mental health. However, in a society that values productivity and fast-paced lifestyles, it is common for our mental health to take the backseat — mental wellness becomes something ideal, but difficult to attain given our job demands and other commitments that are constantly fighting for our time and attention. As a result, we tend to start caring for our mental health only when we find ourselves surfacing signs of distress such as when we find ourselves facing depression or serious anxiety issues.

However, it is important to understand that more broadly, our mental health consists of our thought patterns, emotions, and perceptions. These have a great impact on our behaviours, attitudes, as well as motivation and productivity levels — taking care of our thought and emotional wellbeing regularly can be very beneficial to our life outcomes.

In prioritizing our mental health, we will find that we:

  1. Can prevent the onset of mental health disorders which can take a long time to heal from.
    • Recognizing early signs of distress and taking care of our mental health on a daily basis is most helpful in keeping us functioning well in the long run.
  2. Can think more clearly and objectively.
    • Strong emotions and unresolved hurts can colour our perspectives of situations and people; dealing with these emotions well can help us form more healthy perspectives that enable us to make more balanced decisions.
  3. Are able to communicate our needs to others before emotional outbursts occur.
    • Emotional outbursts can occur in the form of teariness or anger, that are usually a result of built up emotions that were not dealt with.
    • Being self-aware of our emotions and thoughts allow us to deal with them as they surface, and processing them in our own space allows us to think through how we would like to respond to them and communicate them tactfully.
  4. Have healthier and more satisfying relationships with others.
    • When we are mentally and emotionally well, we have the capacity to care for others and enjoy the relationships we have with others.
    • Being emotionally well does not mean that we do not experience negative emotions; instead, it is about being able to cope with it healthily. Being able to process and deal with our own emotions well is the first step to handling the emotions of others well.

What are some areas I can look out for?

    1. Your thought life — Have your thoughts towards your self, others, and situation been largely positive or negative?
    2. Your emotionality — Are you generally able to manage your emotions well, or do you find yourself overwhelmed by them very often? Perhaps you find yourself tearing up frequently, or exploding at others in anger. These are signs that there are deeper root hurts or concerns that need to be worked through.
    3. Your coping patterns — When you find yourself feeling stressed out, what do you do to de-stress?
    4. Your relationships with others — Do you have trusted friends whom you feel comfortable sharing with?
    5. Your ability to function productively — Our work productivity can also be telling of our mental health. Perhaps you find yourself having trouble focusing or completing deadlines on time; this could be a sign that something is bothering us or hindering us from giving our 100%.