Las Jefas: Checking in on our Mental Health

By Marisa Rivera

When we think about improving our health, we often think about improving our eating habits and exercising more. However, sometimes we forget to include our mental health as well. Mental and physical health are inextricably linked. According to the World Health Organization, health is “a state of complete physical, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” 

According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), being mentally healthy means coping with everyday stress, maintaining meaningful relationships, and working productively. 

But we do not always feel mentally healthy. Our day-to-day stresses, obligations, and problems or genetics can cause us to feel overwhelmed with our everyday life. 

The American Psychological Association says that “mental illness is a health condition that involves significant changes in our thinking or emotions that disrupt our everyday life. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. in any given year- with depression and anxiety being two of the most common conditions.” 

What are some things we can do to keep our mental health in check? I am not a psychologist, but I have learned to use different techniques that help me keep my mental and physical health in check. 

·Be aware of your thoughts. Our thoughts affect our physical and mental performance. Your thoughts become your reality. When I become aware that I am thinking, speaking, or performing negatively, I stop and tell myself- “Marisa, Cambia el chip” – “It is time to change your chip” – your thoughts, your mental recordings. Then I proceed to re-word my thoughts with affirmations. 

·Think and speak with affirmations. Practice using affirmations to increase positive energy and bring positive thoughts into your life. Write them down and repeat them often. 

 ·Journaling. Writing can be very therapeutic. Find a quiet space and write about what is overwhelming you. Journaling helps you get things off your chest without being very intrusive. You can also write a letter to yourself, or your loved one, asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness is the best gift you can give yourself. 

·Go outdoors! Take a walk, a hike, a bike ride, a swim or stand still and find gratitude. Notice the birds, the air, and the smell of nature. It does wonders to your physical and mental well-being. 

·Take a mental health day. Taking a day off to disconnect from everything can do wonders for your mental health. Try doing something you absolutely love. 

Some ideas are playing a sport, dancing, listening to music, getting together with loved ones, reading a book, gardening, being creative – whatever makes you happy! 

·Sleep – Do not underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. If your body is tired, your brain is more likely to follow suit. 

·Seek professional help if needed. There are times when we need to seek the help of a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. Do not feel bad about reaching out for help. 

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we manage stress, relate to others, and how we make choices. Let us keep our mental and physical health in check! We are in this together!