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Good Mental Health

By L.H. Gray

We can learn a lot from dogs. They get plenty of rest, play and romp every day, enjoy taking walks, eat with gusto but stop when full, forgive easily, and never worry about tomorrow. They also don't let others invade their territory, growl when they feel threatened and fiercely protect those they love.

A psychologist would call this good mental health. Woof.

How we think, feel and act points to our state of well being. People with good mental health successfully interact with others and enjoy varying levels of friendship. They have a sense of contentment and confidence, are productive, and learn to balance their responsibilities. During times of stress or life changes, they are resilient and bounce back from difficulties. They also know how to say "no" and determine what choices are right for them personally.

It's important to remember, though, that even people with good mental health don't feel positive and upbeat all of the time. They deal with relationship problems, kid problems, work problems and financial problems. It's just life.

Especially during the holidays when schedules are hectic and the pressure is on to meet expectations, it's normal to experience minor mental health problems--like feeling a little blue, being stressed out or ready to blow your top. These feelings can be minimized or even turned around with simple, common-sense measures.

Here are some steps you can take to give your mental health a pick-me-up:

  1. Sleep well. Running low on sleep doesn't only affect your body. It can cause you to feel irritable, anxious, depressed and easily provoked.
  2. Eat healthy foods. Too much sugar and caffeine can put you on edge. This usually ends in a crash where you feel groggy and irritable.
  3. Reduce stress. Cut down on your stress as much as possible. Stress can turn you into a bundle of nerves or tempt you to stay in bed under the covers.
  4. Exercise moderately. Activities like taking a walk or even stretching can boost your energy, clear your mind and relieve stress.
  5. Have down time. Be sure to do things you enjoy that will help you "unplug" from life's stresses and give you a chance to recoup.
  6. Laugh a lot. Even when you feel like being sour and negative, take every opportunity to smile and laugh. It can change your whole outlook.

Remember, we all have bad days--days when everything seems to go wrong. And it's okay to not be happy about that! Hey, even dogs have bad days. If you need a good laugh, take a look: http//:wheredidfidogo.ytmnd.com/.

Good mental health comes first from our reserves inside, but our circumstances can make it tough to keep our sense of well-being. Sometimes just taking extra good care of ourselves will do the trick. Sometimes we need outside help. Whatever the case, do what you need to do to have good mental health. And have a happy holiday!