Guest Author - Karen Huber
A positive outlook on life is a sign of good mental health. The ability to recover from trauma and the ability to cope in difficult situations are also indicators of a healthy mental outlook. So, if we are feeling terrible or depressed, how do we get ourselves back to a more positive state? We are in tough economic and emotional times in this country, and sometimes, it is difficult to see anything positive around us. I try to be thankful for the little things that make my life better, my pets, my house, and the fact that I have a job, however difficult it might be. If you are feeling low most of the time, it would be a good idea to talk with a trusted friend or get professional help.
A few tips I try might help you to function more positively. Deal with your emotions in a safe way. If you are so angry that you are having trouble functioning, try to take a few deep breaths or a time out. If you are work, go to the bathroom or an empty office to calm down. Take your break early if you can. If your supervisor is easy to talk to and you trust him or her, set a time to talk if it is a work situation. If not, try to talk to a trusted friend at work. If you are not close to anyone at work, keep taking deep breaths throughout the day and deal with the situation after you are home. If you are at work or do not have anyone to talk to, write your feelings down. This exercise can make feelings concrete and help you understand them better. If you can leave work early, try to get someone to talk the problem or situation over with as soon as you can. Dealing with problems so they do not fester and wear you down will make you feel better sooner.
A network of supportive friends and family is another key to emotional stability and feeling positive. If you do not have family to talk to or that you trust, try to surround yourself with positive, upbeat people. No one likes to have friends who constantly berate them or bring negative energy, yet you do not want friends who just tell you what you want to hear. Good friends are hard to find, so be selective with whom you cultivate friendships. Self-reliance brings confidence and a sense of well-being. Your friends support you in bad times and help bring back your confidence and energy. Rely on them, but rely on yourself as well.
A large part of being mentally stable or healthy is being physically healthy. If you have health problems, seek help. Doctors are very expensive these days, so check out low-cost clinics, low-cost or state-sponsored insurance plans. See if the health facility will let you make payments. Get as much exercise as you can. Exercise manufactures endorphins, which lead to a sense of well-being. Endorphins are a neurotransmitter manufactured by the brain. Find something you really like to do, a hobby, hiking, biking, writing, a pet. Try to do it every day so you experience some happiness every day.
Get enough rest. Sleep works wonders for depression. Do not oversleep, though, because this can cause lethargy. Schedule leisure time and time for solitude. Feeling overstressed can cause burnout and resentment. You are allowed to take care of you. Try to eat healthy foods. Treats are allowed, but do not eat massive amounts of junk food when you feel angry or depressed. This will make you feel ten times worse. Likewise, avoid alcohol when you feel low. It might make you feel better temporarily, but a hangover will make you feel worse. If you do not like your job, look for a new one. Jobs are hard to find now, but just looking will make you feel like you have made a positive step for change. If you experience trauma, get help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, a member of your church, or a professional. There are many sources for low-cost mental health counseling. Ask around or arrange for a payment plan. There is also toll-free telephone in most states that can give you counseling or point you in the right direction.
We all have rough times and not all of us are adept at handling them. Do not feel alone; none of us is super-person who is mentally healthy all the time, but with the right skills, we can learn to cope better with life's rough patches.