Smart, Part 1: Mental Health

Last week, I explained my concept of “Smart” as encompassing all aspects of Mental Fitness.  Now I’m going to write a 3-parter that breaks down the 3 big umbrella-categories that I put under mental fitness.  First up is Mental Health.


Mental Health

I admit that all definitions of fitness are somewhat arbitrary and subjective.  We can all define fitness differently.  I also admit that my particular definition of fitness is unusual, but I don’t think this part of it is at all arbitrary or unusual.  I think this is the reality we all gotta face: mental health is the cornerstone of all health.

I’m not going to try to define mental health, or to make a definitive, prescriptive list of what you should do for your mental health.  I’m not a licensed therapist.  I have no degrees in psychology.  So, what are my qualifications to talk about mental health and how can I possibly work this into my system of fitness and fitness coaching?  I’m qualified because I’m a human just like you who must manage my own mental health each day.  I don’t claim to give therapy and if you need a counselor, I’ll be the first to refer you to one.  What I do is help orient you towards your own mental health as a priority, remind you of the primary importance it plays in your overall health and fitness, and empower you to take it into your own hands.

As a culture, I think we modern, scientific humans have spent far more time defining the absence of mental health and not nearly enough time defining the positive state.  There are books filled with psychological diagnoses of illness, but wellness is ill-defined.  In my philosophy of mental health, all of those mental illness states are merely exaggerations of normal mental states that we all transit through from time to time.  So, rather than labeling yourself as “OCD” or “depressive” or something, just learn to recognize when you’re feeling a bit of that state and develop tools to use that mental state productively, or to escape from it.  The alternative is that you embrace that state as an identity, search out a diagnosis, and become a debilitated victim and heavily-medicated zombie.

Feeling anxious?  Self-analyze, explore your feelings, own-up to the root of that anxiety and take appropriate action.  Make your bed, clean your dishes, pay your bills on time.  Now what do you have left to be anxious about?

That’s just one example.  But, yeah, own your mental health and care for it.  There are actions you can take–in habits, behaviors, nourishment, and physical activity–that will help alleviate any state of mental unease.  Try that approach: the proactive approach.  Keep a positive mental attitude and handle your business.  This is where mental fitness begins.




Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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