Thursday, March 29, 2012

Don't Forget Your Emotional and Mental Well-Being!

 Today's guest blog is by Jaclyn Blachman-Forshay. Jaclyn Blachman-Forshay, BS, is currently pursuing a master’s in public health with a focus in epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.  She received a bachelor’s in social work from New York University.  Her research interests include HIV prevention among vulnerable populations and understanding the psychological impact of trauma.

Health means much more than caring for one’s physical self; mental and emotional well-being are also necessary to feel good. As part of National Public Health Week (NPHW), the American Public Health Association reminds you to focus on your whole self and to actively practice psychological self-care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define mental and emotional well-being as having a positive outlook on an individual’s life. This includes making and maintaining healthy relationships, regularly feeling emotions such as happiness, and having forward-thinking goals.

Well-being is important for people of all ages: children and adults benefit from supportive families, social ties and extra-curricular activities.
We have all heard of taking a “mental health day” to de-stress, but ideally we can implement daily activities that promote overall well-being. Examples of such activities include:
  • Exercise: Exercise has psychological benefits in addition to physical benefits. Regular exercise can decrease feelings of depression and improve sleep.
  •  Volunteer: Giving your time to others can be a meaningful way to give back, and many volunteers state that they receive many benefits from the experience of volunteering. Take one of your passions, such as working with animals or children, and connect with an organization that needs your help.
  •  Vacation: Vacationing doesn’t require a plane trip to a beach. Instead, schedule personal relaxation days in your hometown. Enjoy sleeping in, cooking a meal and watching a movie. Having “mental health days” planned in advance will give you something to look forward to and prevent burn out from being overworked.
Lastly, sometimes we need extra support to feeling mentally and emotionally well. Many benefit from reaching out to a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker. Get involved with NPHW by committing to your personal mental and emotional well-being and raising awareness about the public health importance of well-being in your community!

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