Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mental Health In Other Words

Mental health is often mistaken for mental illness, although the two conditions are worlds apart. However, mental health is not something one has, or was born with, it has to be carefully nurtured. And nurturing is no possible until one understands that mental health, or wellness as some think of it as an overall part of their physical well being, which it is, is not a static condition. In fact, you can be mentally healthy one day and not so mentally healthy the next day. It all has to do with how well you know yourself and your thoughts. You must get in the habit of reading your mind and leaving the file open at all times. When you find errors or ways of thinking in yourself that if found in others you would classify as unhealthy, you must bookmark that page and determine to learn more about the reasoning behind your thinking.

Learn to be truthful about your thoughts. You don't necessarily have to admit this to others, but you must never be false to yourself. How absurd, you may be thinking, how can you be false to yourself? We do it all the time! We like to think we are on top of every situation but are we? We may have only picked up a few basic attitudes and have clung to them for years. What are some of the phony messages you may have claimed as your own?

(My mother never raised me that way) Poor mom, she may or may not have raised you that way, but as an adult and one supposedly knows right from wrong, why should you make her your scapegoat? Can't you think for yourself? It's a shame that too many people grow up in body and leave their mind back in yesterday. At the age of reasoning, you are supposed to take control of your own thoughts and while this is thought to be at the beginning of puberty, it often takes far more time than this. But any age is never too late to begin the process of taking charge of your own thinking. A mentally healthy person will, at some time in their journey onward, stop blaming all their shortcomings on their parents. They will have understood by that time that their parents too were only reacting to the pressures of their time and had they known better, or been taught better, they would have done better. Whether this is true or not, it's at least an honest answer to something unknown. It's simply another wrong belief one can throw out as one lives day by day doing the best they can do with the tools God gave them to work with.

Wellness is another word the professionals like to throw around when describing the opposite of illness. Generally it is used in connection with physical health, but truthfully, it must be accompanied with mental health. The body cannot be separated. A person's mind has a tremendous influence over bodily health. A mind in good shape understands that to go through life pain free is impossible. Pain often is a good thing. It's your seeing eye dog alerting you that something is wrong. Your first response, whether to call an ambulance, or whether to lie down and rest, or try an over-the-counter remedy--depending on the seriousness of the condition--will depend on how well acquainted you are with your innermost being. You will begin to question yourself, has this happened before, if so, what caused it, what did I do this time to bring on this condition, etc.

You see, mental health is an ongoing thing. Some days your are farther along the road to a  good understanding of yourself and the next day, like sunshine and rain, the situation changes. With your mind still in good working condition, although clouds seem to block most of the good feelings of yesterday, you reason that this is normal and although you accomplish less, there will be better times ahead. Although, philosophically you pass off your slight feelings of unease, your are well aware that eating that whole pizza, half for lunch, the other half for dinner, with a tall glass of a sweetened drink is not something that should be repeated. A lesson has been learned. That's what wellness is all about. This kind of thinking becomes a habit but don't expect ever to quit learning. New lessons on how to help heal your self crop up daily.

Others are likewise important and to spend all your time on your frailties is likewise unhealthy. Let God be your doorkeeper and you will learn how much of this or how much of that is healthy or unhealthy. Living is loving and caring for others and forgiving them for their faults and their wrongdoings as well as loving and caring for yourself and yes, forgiving yourself for your faults is likewise healthy.  But don't overdo it.  Going one step forward you at least hope to improve on your unhealthiness by giving Him the credit for all the good you have done this one day. God is not dead
as some smart(?) people often say or think, He is born new everyday, at least where he is allowed to be.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Common sense and mental health

Common sense may sound as if it's too common to be in vogue today; the truth is it's most often uncommon today. For proof of that all one has to do is to read the daily newspaper, visit Facebook, Twitter or just walk down the street with your eyes upon the other passersby. (I can't do that since I'm partially blind and I must watch out for the cracks in the sidewalk, which to me is common sense to me.

Last first: Those walking down the street will have some emerging communication demands that can't wait until they arrive at the office, their home, or wherever. Or is it simply the addictive nature of those delightful little smart phones that lead them hither and yon? Yet, where common sense is concerned it is far safer to text or phone while walking than driving. Therefore that age old reasoning behind common sense in itself has conditions. It says do the activity that has the least potential for danger to self or to others.

Newspapers are becoming ever more rare but in spite of their downsizing, they are a habit well worth hanging onto. They are good sources of commons sense and not so common sense, and they alert us to what is going on in our neighborhood. What's more, they fill in where the news commentator leaves off for lack of time. You can't rewind those news broadcasts and get a second look to make sure you heard right; a newspaper is there for multiple reasons. And too, when it's finished being read, it can line bird cages, wipe mirrors and windows as housewives in the past used to do. Actually it's hard to imagine a house without newsprint to hastily throw down on the floor to soak up what spilled over.

Facebook has changed the way people meet and greet. Now news of everyone you ever knew is suddenly important. I wonder what would happen if some of these just sort of dropped by in person, would they be welcomed at your home. Would you drop everything and invite them in, or would you talk to them at the door and wish them a good day and then quickly forget about them since you were too busy tweeting?

Tweeting is good but it has its purpose. But there's one question I often think to ask but don't because I don't want to pop too many bubbles. The question is: Is all this necessary? How much  of what one tweets is ever read. And too, common sense dictates that a great deal of time is wasted and the really important tweets may get lost in the shuffle. Yet, I'm sure much good is being done and its a good way to find out information in a hurry. Common sense says, however, that there should be a good purpose for tweeting.

Personally, I've never found it too useful. At first it was a novelty (When I had better eyesight) and I used to tweet for fun. I pretended I was a bird perched high on a perch and was sending little love notes to those below. Yes, I know, not exactly common sense since I could have been occupied at more useful chores. But I found it delightful. And then too, I could have told others to read my blog, or my Helium articles but that was more like work and I stopped tweeting. Rarely do I now check in but should I have something important to say, I probably would go the effort.

Common sense tells me that each of us has priorities and it also tells me not to be so inward looking, at least not all the time. Get out there and see what your neighbors are doing, visit the sick, lend a helping hand. Life is lived much better when we care for others and when we do what we believe God wants us to do. It also tells us not to be so sensitive to criticism. As an example, we may be poor at drawing, but nonetheless find sketching a delight. It's our choice. But commons sense also tells us not to expect others to think we have created a masterpiece. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Old Age and Mental Health

Mental health is especially important when old age is creeping in. The body is more fragile and its systems aren’t working as efficiently as before, especially the brain. It’s important that you learn how to deal effectively with the problems of aging and see them in the perspective of a lifetime and not as a hardship confronting you now. There are reasons for your insight— or the lack thereof— the problems of fault finding, the problem of being misunderstood, the problem of being less mentally active than you would like to be. You are passing on and are gradually leaving the world you once knew behind.

Those younger than you have firmer grasp of the present world than you do and it would be to your credit to give them more credit for their abilities than you probably do. Admit you are slowing down and are not quite as agile and able as you once were. Assist them with help when asked and learn from them when you have questions only they with their expertise can answer.
It’s not necessary to argue over misunderstanding. Generational gaps in communication are normal and it shows the world is moving forward. Often times, for the elderly to fully embrace this notion, it takes effort. They must keep an open mind to all possibilities and not be rigid and unrelenting. Look forward and contemplate the future and if at all possible see it as an adventure yet to be. Understand that death, at least to those who have accepted themselves and their place in the order of things, is a next step in life, and not a sentence to dread. Granted, this may take some readjustment, but look, what choice is there when the inevitable is staring you in the face?

In fact the problems confronting the elderly are those that confronted them when younger but now are often overblown and out of control. The solutions no longer fit. As an example, how you as a younger person saw the elderly is much different than the way you see them now, now that you are a living example. Truth is the problems facing the elderly are so immense it’s hard to tell where to begin. And against the better advice of many of the younger folk who haven’t experienced this life style yet, drugs are not often the choice of treatment. They are for last resort and are for those who have lost all control of their thoughts and their coping mechanisms. (That depends, of course, on the illnesses you face and is not what this article is all about.)

The best way to deal with old age is recognize it as a blessing. So you’re approaching ninety, more or less, and rather than waste a minute of this precious time moaning and groaning and feeling sorry for yourself, thank your creator for keeping you so long alive. You must understand it was his decision and not yours, and as a way to show how appreciative you are of the privileges you were given, you count your blessings every day. You start by understanding why you are hard of hearing, why your sight is failing, why your back hurts, why your fingers are riddled by bumps that make writing and holding a fork difficult. Your system is reacting to the wear of a lifetime of use. That means your body, your mind and your soul are all reacting to the shortcomings of your system and each helping the other as best they can.

Reality versus what you make of it

You are not hearing as well as you used to. You turn the television up and think nothing of it, but when people talk to you, you must constantly ask them to speak louder. If you can afford this luxury, hearing aids are available. If you live alone and are conversations are few and turning up the television is not a nuisance to others, you may do very well living with your lack of hearing. Hearing aids are not only about volume, but they reign in on tones and enhance the nerves that are doing their job properly.  The good thing about hearing aid, you wear them when you want to, and leave them off when you prefer the silent world. And believe it or not, at times silence is golden. Old folk especially often don’t want to be bothered trying to figure out a noisy world they are no longer a part of.
If buying hearing aids are out of the question, you can learn to live in a noiseless world. It has its rewards. As you hear less of what the world is shouting at you, the more you are able to hear the messages of heaven that are silently spoken. They reside along with the heavenly pictures you see when you think of your creator lovingly. It’s quite true that when one thing is taken away from you, others senses’ compensate.  The sense of touch becomes all the more important when your sight and your hearing is lessened.

What’s truly important at any age is mental health. With it you can cope; without it you are handicapped. Therefore it makes good sense to prioritize in favor of keeping your mental faculties up to date. Use your sense of reality: old age means your body is slower, less functional and from that realize that you won’t be as sharp on some issues as you once were, don’t allow it to turn you sour on life. Embrace the future even when that future is unknown. Dwell on heavenly possibilities but don’t make yourself an old fool by lashing out at younger folk who are still enjoying the frivolities the world offers. Their turn will come and try to become a mentally healthy reminder to them of the beauty of old age. Whatever you do, don’t give in to perpetual youth by imitating them, it will show you up as the fool most older folk understand themselves to be. (Mentally healthy old people don’t mind at all at being misunderstood, they’ve given up the fight and now are free to be themselves.) 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mental Health versus physical health

The body and the mind cannot be separated. One reacts to the other. Therefore when one is in pain, is depressed, when problems arise, all the body is affected. The best way to a healthy future is to begin thinking healthy thoughts. Don't allow a down day, or a caustic remark from a friend or some bystander to do permanent damage to your health.

In other words, understand that no one knows your feelings, your thoughts, your good intentions as you do. Don't let the antagonism of others put you in a bad mood. Yes, I know that is easier said than done, but it is possible to see the person with the negative remarks, the hurtful words as a person not in control of themselves. Love them anyway, and hope that they too will learn to take control of their mind and body interactions.

Perfect mental and physical health is not possible but that does not mean it's not a worthy goal to work toward. As an example of what is meant by that truth: You get up in the morning one day feeling great. You love the whole world, not for what it does, but for what it could be. You ask God to help you do the best you know how for that one day. Then you accept your day as you proceed from hour to hour to do the best you have to do with.

The next day may not be as assuring. You had a restless night and maybe your arthritis or your back pain is pulling you down. You do what you can do to ease the situation, restart your exercise program,  decide to lose weight, walk more, or do whatever relieves your pain, and you accept the fact you may have been a bit negligent in taking care of your self. What ever you do, you don't blame others for your bad feelings. You simply use your mind to see where you may have been at fault.

Life lived thus responsibly is life worth living. You don't use up all your time worrying over your self, but instead, you take care or yourself so you can be a use to others. Taking care of yourself is not selfish; its keeping your mind and body in the best shape possible so you can help others with their problems. But even if they aren't receptive to your offers to help, you can at least keep them in mind when you pray and honor your creator.

Thoughts and ideas and words, spoken or simply thought, are not static. They go places and carry on their good wishes even when you know it not. Therefore, any readers that come this way, know that these words are meant to assist you in thinking about mental health as being the first step toward total bodily health. May God bless and heal you. I say that because no matter how healthy you think your are, there are weakened areas that may need a kind word, a prayer or a smile from time to time.
Until the next time I blog, which is not often, truthfully, keep smiling and keep on working on your mental and physical health.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Perfection is a goal to work toward, yet mental health thinking tells us it is an impossibility. Only heaven is that perfect place and earth is in no way near heaven. Yet, having a model of perfection in one's mind when a   task is being undertaken is necessary. Otherwise we would never advance out of not caring and nothing better will ever happen.

Perfectionism creates its own failures. It demands so much out of a person that they eventually become fearful of ever accomplishing anything worthy and they stop trying. To illustrate that concept, let's look at art. That is one subject that is wide open for criticism, for experimentation, for thought and yet, truthfully, neither the practice of it nor the talk and discussion about are perfect. Each person has his and her own interpretations of the subject and these depend on ability, inheritance, knowledge and interest. Art is a personal matter and if the person isn't interested, art doesn't matter.

For a person to be successful in art, he must be his own judge. That means he sets no impossible tasks for himself but he uses whatever ability he has, or interest, or desire and take it from there. Taking myself as an example, the only one I truly know, I am no artist; I am no artist in the sense of being in the league with those who create world renowned paintings. I would not even be considered a candidate to be labeled a artist for a local art group.

That's fine, it frees me to enjoy the world of art as I see it. I don't need to have a cheering squad, I know when I am delighted with a 'work of art' I have created. And too, I often don't start out with anything in mind. In other words I don't see a picture and think to create it as it is. I don't have that kind of talent, nor actually care to; what I do have is the love of art for art's sake, whatever that means, and I first start by dabbling. In fact dabbling is about all I do. I love the colors and I like to think a sheet of paper or a canvas has hidden meanings and I am out to discover what they are. Of course I know better, but that makes for an apt description of how I approach art.

This example is from a series I did about thirty years ago. I have several different versions.  I was cutting  cutting out crosses from card stock and painting them with different versions of women. I've long forgotten what I was thinking about but I remember how absorbed I was in the effort. I don't remember much about the dabbling but I still have the results.

I approach art as a discovery. A discovery after the fact. I follow wherever the paint leads. I get suggestions as I go along. It's the same with writing, you begin a sentence and follow it through. You reread it and make changes. With painting after it's finished there's few changes I make, however. Once its finished, it usually stays that way. It's as if that's a moment of time and the next encounter with art will be another encounter with time.

One could get the notion that art is therapeutic with me. It is. It tells me that somehow greater and more in control guides me. I can either accept that or make myself miserable trying to be the boss. I understand that each person has artistic ability and once they discover their own particular version, they'll never be bored. No man made art is perfect, but that needn't be a deterrent to strive to be as mentally healthy as one can be.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mental Health resolutions for 2013

A great way to begin this new year is to resolve to become more mentally healthy. How do you do that? That all depends on your thinking and how much time and effort you're willing to put forth to promote the idea the idea of mental wellness. No one is mentally healthy all the time, wrong thoughts and wrong actions creep in but if we're committed to reviewing our thoughts and our thinking whenever we find they're out of kilter with mental health, we will progress in our efforts to promote mental wellness.

Ideas to consider:
1. Mental health is not mental illness, but is the most important part of overall health. A mentally healthy person will be able to deal with all their health problems wholesomely.

2. The mind is inseparable from the rest of the body. It cannot be treated as if it's an entity outside of the body.

3. Not every little down period or feeling or every little ache needs medication. Pain is a reminder telling us something is not right and the healthiest way is to try find out what causes the pain rather than tossing it aside by medication. Medicine is serious business and professionals should guide its use.

4. Stop blaming heredity for mental problems. Sure, much of mental illness, as well as physical illness is inherited, but if so, learning how to deal with it is the first step in managing it.

PS: more ideas on how to become mentally healthy will be forthcoming. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Living simply helps keep your mind uncluttered. And an uncluttered mind is more able to function and is far more efficient. More and more this is beginning to take hold of the imaginations of many people who are tired of clutter. They’re tired of clutter in their homes and they’re beginning to see a connection between cluttered home, overstuffed garages to cluttered minds and overstuffed egos. To learn more about how to unclutter your life and where to get more information check out Living Simply, an online site.