Mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness.

It includes how you feel about yourself and how you fine-tune life events. Rather than the absence of mental illness, mental health refers to the presence of positive characteristics. Having solid mental health doesn’t mean that you will never go through bad times or experience emotional problems. We all go through frustrations, hurt, and adjustments. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress. But just as physically healthy people are better able to bounce back from illness or injury, people with strong mental health are better able to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. This skill is called resilience. There are a plethora of characteristics for being mentally healthy that we all should be aware of:

1. Feel good about yourself.

2. Do not become flabbergasted by emotions, such as fear, anger, love, jealousy, guilt, or anxiety. As quickly as they may come on, allow them to move right on through.

3. Have durable and nourishing personal relationships. These are not required to live, but certainly make life much easier to endure.

4. Feel comfortable with other people. We all do not have to be social beings, but we can learn to work with others and their differences.

5. Laugh at yourself and with others. Do not take yourself so seriously that you cannot be human.

6. Be respectful of yourself and for others even if there are differences.

7. Be able to accept life’s disappointments. Forgiveness is the best medicine and forgiving yourself can be the hardest thing to do. Make it a priority.

8. Make wise decisions and stand by those decision.

9. Shape your environment whenever imaginable and adjust to it when necessary.

10. Meet life’s burdens with resiliency and handle your problems when they arise.

People who are emotionally and mentally resilient have the tools for coping with difficult circumstances and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and productive, in bad times as well as good. Their resiliency also makes them less terrified of new experiences or an uncertain future. Even when they don’t immediately know how a problem will get resolved, they are hopeful that a solution will eventually be found.

It is important to remember that no one possess all of the characteristics of good Mental Health all the time. These are things we must strive for everyday and do our best to bring them to the surface as a reminder of our ability to direct our destiny.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness and needs help, please contact Mountain Lakes Behavioral Healthcare for more information and/or treatment options. Guntersville office: (256) 582-3203 Scottsboro Office: (256) 259-1774.

David Holmes LPC-S, NCC, is the program director for the Marshall County office of Mountain Lakes Behavioral Healthcare.

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