Getting Your Mind Right: The Importance of Maintaining Your Mental Health to Achieve Overall Wellness

By Natasha Manning-Gibbs, Ph.D.

When you think about health and wellness do you consider your mental health? If you answered “no”, you are not alone. Western society typically equates wellness with physical aspects such as maintaining a proper diet and regular exercise. Although those dimensions of wellness play key roles in our health, it is important to also put an equal emphasis on our psyche.
As a licensed psychologist, I have seen firsthand the negative impact of poor mental health on a person’s overall wellness. In my private practice, many clients have been referred for psychotherapy by their primary care physician due to their medical symptoms being exacerbated by psychological symptoms such as an overwhelming sense of sadness, unsubstantiated fear, or even regular temper outbursts.

One such instance involved a young, middle-class woman with high blood pressure. As is the case for many clients, she reluctantly entered treatment despite her physician’s suggestion. She initially rationalized that psychotherapy was unnecessary due to being medication complaint and following her physician’s orders that included regular exercise and a healthy diet. As treatment progressed she became forthcoming about the stressors in her life and recognized that she previously made little effort to address their negative impact on her health. Her investment in therapy coupled with her medical treatment eventually rendered positive results. That particular case and many others demonstrate that medical conditions seen as solely biological are not fully treated until the mind-body connection is addressed.

Whether a person is attempting to rebound from high pressure or other medical conditions such as chronic pain, integrative care is ideal. However, why wait for a medical condition to arise before taking steps toward developing a healthy mind?
Reflect on the last time you consciously created personal goals that enhanced or maintained good mental health? If your response indicates that it has been a while since you showed your psyche some attention, consider the following:

  • Think about an activity you once found enjoyable and up lifting and consider revisiting it.
  • Take 15 minutes to write down all the things for which you are grateful.
  • Select a guided meditation on YouTube and begin practicing twice a week.

We have one life to live, make it glorious by making your mental health a priority.