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Day in the Life

Century Park Blog

World Mental Health Day

Date Posted

10/09/2020

Category

Wellness

A number of years ago, I was on a multi-day backpacking trip with a friend in beautiful Yosemite National park. Three days into the trip, we missed an opportunity to refill our water supply thinking there were other streams ahead. Oops. The afternoon hike included a strenuous climb up a very long mountainside. With water running low, my mind began to be consumed with my thirst, the threat of dehydration, as well as the possibility of not making it to the next water source.

With all of these thoughts swirling in my mind, I was no longer able to think about anything else nor see the amazing beauty around me. My mental state significantly impacted my perception and then impacted my feelings.

As each of us journeys through life, at any one time we are either walking uphill or downhill. Both are necessary and normal. Regardless of which part of the path we are on today, our mental state determines the quality of life we will experience.

My perspective is that our mental state impacts at least three key arenas of our lives.

  1. Our mental state impacts our emotions. If the perception of our situation is only negative or painfully difficult, our feelings could range from resignation (it’s terrible, I give up) to resilience (I’m going to persevere through this).
  1. Our mental state impacts our attitudes. If we perceive that we have little or no control over our current situation, we can choose to slide into a pessimistic attitude (there’s nothing I can do about it), or we can choose to possess a positive attitude and make the best of what we are going through in the moment.
  1. Our mental state impacts our behaviors. If our perception, feelings and attitudes are negative, then we will often complain about being stuck and how difficult things are. In contrast, if we adopt the positive perceptions, we will often determine which actions to take to move us forward out of this difficult situation.

When our mental state is weak and unhealthy, our world shrinks to only see problems. When our mental state or perspective is healthy and growing, we can see possibilities that usually lead to taking action to move us forward to a stronger state of mind.

Our mental state or perspective is very important to our overall well-being. I want to offer you suggestions for how to get and keep the ball rolling when it comes to growing your mental health. Let’s call these the ABCs of strengthening your mental health.

  • Admit. Labeling and acknowledging your feelings is the first step to take. Until you admit what you are feeling, you are unable to address these feelings. The key here is awareness. It has been said that until you have awareness you will not make any changes.
  • Believe. To increase your mental strength and grow stronger, you must believe you can change. It will not be easy, but you must believe you have the capability.
  • Choose. This is when you begin to take action by choosing new habits. A few habits you can implement to impact your mental health are: talk with someone and open up about your thoughts and feelings, carefully monitor the voices you listen to from the people you surround yourself with and choose to help someone else every day.

Gaining mental strength and changing your perspective is not as difficult as it might seem. When you follow the ABCs of admit, believe and choose, you can grow stronger in your emotional health and well-being.

On our backpacking trip, we eventually did make it up that mountainside to gaze upon a beautiful and much-needed mountain lake. After a rest and a sip of water, I was able to once again soak in the beauty of Yosemite. I learned many important lessons that day. I learned about the power of my emotional state and its impact on my mental and physical states.

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