Mental Health and Wellbeing by Francis Llenado

How are you feeling right now?

Without thinking much about it, try to rate yourself on the scale above. How long have you been feeling like this? Think about how and why you are in this state right now. Are you “well”? Think about the reason as to why or why not, what exactly does it mean to be well? 

How do I know if I am well?

We have heard the adage;

“Health is not just the absence of illness; it is a state of complete wellbeing”

What this really means is that a person’s wellbeing does not come from a single source but rather from a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social dimensions:

Wellbeing (and, by extension, mental health) should be explained by the dynamic interaction of these three dimensions to better understand and manage it. In understanding mental health, it is important to note that it does not rely on a single psychological factor, but rather part of the interaction of biology and social environments. (Engel,1977; Tripathi et al., 2019;)

In other words, you know you are (mentally) well if you feel stable, satisfied, and relatively happy; with an adaptive coping style to the inevitable problems of day to day (Holford, 2007), this feeling constitutes harmony of the whole (mind, body and environment). If you feel this way, it means that realize you own abilities, cope with the normal stresses of life, and work productively to contribute to their community. You can think, emote, interact with people, perform your obligations, earn a living, and enjoy life (WHO, 2018).

Hence, being (mentally) “well” does not necessarily mean that you do not experience distress as distress is an inevitable part of life. Being well means that you have the adequate means to cope and adapt to these demands, and still enjoy life despite its challenges.

How do I know if I am no longer well?

Being well (body, mind, and environment) is not a constant state, it fluctuates from left to right on the scale as we go through the trials of day to day.

There is nothing wrong with shifting between these states, as they are often contextual to the course of our day to day challenges. However, there are times when it can be difficult to tell if we are still well.

A simple guide to tell if you are (un)well:

Changes in our state of wellbeing may occur due to changes in our:

  • body (diet, exposure, hormones, other substance),
  • mind (thoughts, interpretations, beliefs, attitudes)
  • environment (events, people, daily demand)

A good way to tell if the changes are affecting our wellbeing (or mental health) is to pay attention to changes in:

Sleep

Appetite

Motivation

Focus

Mood

Energy

– (quantity and quality) – do you sleep more or less than usual? Do you find it difficult to fall or stay asleep?

– do you eat (or feel hungry) more or less than usual?

– do you find it difficult to get yourself to do day to day tasks (get up from bed, shower, work, etc.)

– do you find it difficult to concentrate /pay attention in what you are doing? Does your mind wander?

– do you notice any changes in mood? (swings, irritability, agitation)

– do you notice changes to your energy at specific times in the day (increase or decrease)

For more resources on improving the different aspects of your mental wellbeing check out Virtual Psychologist’s resource page.
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