Mental Health is our psychological, emotional, and social well-being. To be mentally healthy is something that almost all of us seek and crave: it is the state in which we can truly thrive, getting the most out of life, and being our best selves. Yet the human mind can be extremely complicated: Not only is the brain the most complex organ in the body, but the way the rest of the body interacts with it ー affecting our thoughts, feelings, and behavior ー is an equally intricate system of interrelated parts that helps to drive who we are, how we feel about ourselves, and how we show up in the world. Our mental health is a core factor in our well-being, and in our ability to live a happier, healthier life.
It is just as important to look after our mental health as it is to look after other aspects of our overall health. When it's not in its best shape, there are things we can do to ameliorate that; and when we're struggling, we can seek professional help. After all, when we're looking to get physically fit, we tend to seek out experts to support us through any hurdles, and guide us towards our goals ー why would we not do the same with our mental health? As the world works to do away with the discrimination and stigmas around it, although there is still some way to go, in recent years, the important role that mental health plays on both an individual and global scale has been receiving increased acknowledgement and awareness.
Sometimes life just gets overwhelming. An anxiety crisis can seem to come from nowhere, or what initially started as a low-level worry can build its way into becoming a full-blown attack of nauseating angst. The triggers might be obvious or seemingly innocuous, yet suddenly you can barely think straight but for the crushing weight of life itself. Between work, family commitments, studies, parenthood, and myriad other expectations from all different angles, an anxiety attack can leave you feeling trapped and terrified about everything you’re carrying on your shoulders and all that you cannot control.
Pablo Picasso once said that art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. Everyone has their own “dust”. Yours could be the unpleasant news you read on the internet, or a micromanager who never leaves you alone. Perhaps yours comes from within – that tiny little voice that doubts your worth, or exhibits your lack of self-confidence. No matter what you’re struggling with that’s weighing you down, Picasso's metaphor suggests that art can serve as a therapeutic tool, helping you to feel better when you’re going through difficult times – that’s the healing power of art.
With our mental health being a driving factor in determining how we think, feel, and behave, it should come as no surprise that the amount of questions we could ponder about it are seemingly endless. First: Why is mental health so important, and how does it affect our well-being? What are the most commonly-experienced mental health issues? For many of us experiencing struggles with our mental health, finding out that we're not in it alone ー that our problems may be more "normal" than we think, and that there are others out there who we can relate to ー can help support us in our journey to recovering from the issues we are facing.
Understanding it is another key: What exactly is depression, what are its signs and symptoms, and what are its physical effects? What causes anxiety ー what different types of anxiety might we experience, and how can we calm an anxiety attack? How do we recognize when we're suffering from PTSD, addiction, loneliness, personality disorders, behavioral disorders, or mood disorders? What does trauma do to a person? And how do we overcome our struggles with these mental health issues? Whether it's in the workplace, in your personal life, or in your relationships ー with others and yourself ー learning to navigate through the complex landscape of our mental health can help us find more happiness, purpose, fulfillment, self-love, ease, and joy in life.
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