What is Mental Health?
More than seven million Australians have suffered mental health problems, and one in five will experience mental health difficulties in their life that is according to a report released by National Mental Health Commission (NMHC), Australia. The report reveals that Australians don’t feel comfortable to talk about their mental health.
Mental health refers to how you perceive yourself, how you deal with people in your life, how you handle life and living, and how you address your emotional response. In other words, well-being of your mind and brain is your mental health. You may be free from clinical depression, dementia, stress or anxiety but if you do not have positive vibes inside you, then you are not having good mental health. Pessimism is bad for your mental health.
If you have good mental health you can control your emotions and social behavior, develop strong relationship, face challenges in life, survive hard times, and become a responsible individual. Mental health is as important as physical health to live a happy and contented life.
- Signs of Bad Mental Health
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling lonely, sad, dejected
- Having sadism or self-destructive thoughts
- Sleeping disorder
- Excessive smoking and drinking, or using drugs
- Feeling low, stressed, dejected
- Inability to face difficulties
- Not being able to concentrate
- Viewing life as meaningless event
Signs of Good Mental Health
- High self-esteem
- Feeling happy and contented
- Enthusiasm for life and living
- Full of positive vibes
- Balanced personal and professional life
- Engaged in healthy lifestyle
- Living life in fullest
- Ability to build strong relationship
- Knack to learn new things
- Willing to face challenges in life
Quality Of Life
Quality of life means emotional wellbeing and life evaluation. It is generally used to determine welfare of societies or individuals. Quality of life does not necessarily deal with standard of living or economical well-being, but rather indicates physical and mental health, subjective life satisfaction, education, and social well-being. Cultural/social anthropologist and development organizations use quality of life indicator to assess development, health, politics, freedom, human rights, happiness, and general wellbeing of individuals and societies.
To determine quality of life, surveys are carried where respondents are asked about their emotional experiences (love, happiness, sadness, anger, and stress) and life and living (life expectancy, education, health, social responsibilities etc.) The most common quality of life measurement is Human Development Index published by United Nations Development Program, which is used by economists and politicians to assess livability of countries.
Quality of Life Measured by UNDP Human Development Index
Human Development Index published by United Nations Development Program (UNDP) measures quality of life in members and non member countries by analysing life expectancy, education, per capita income, standard of living, purchasing power parity, and gross domestic product for capita.
Quality of Life Measured by Happy Planet Index
Happy Planet Index introduced by the New Economics Foundation measures human well-being and environmental impact. Human well-being is not measured by possession of material goods. Happy Planet Index is based on the idea that the main objective of human being is to improve quality of life (becoming happy and living a healthy, long and fulfilling life) and not to be rich. Happy Planet Index does not consider economy and development, but measures subjective life satisfaction, experienced well-being, life expectancy and ecological footprint.
American sociologist James Q. Wilson proposed ‘quality-of-life crimes’ in his Broken Window Theory. Throwing litter, creating graffiti and public urination are some examples of quality-of-life crimes. According to Wilson, apathy to such victimless crimes shows disorder is being tolerated, and foretells about serious crimes to being committed in future. Zero tolerance against graffiti is practiced in cities around the world because the authorities justify Broken Window Theory.
How to Improve Mental Health
Love yourself and take care of your body. When you love yourself, you will love life and living. As Socrates said soul is mutilated by wrong actions and benefitted by right actions, you need to spice up your life with love and care to improve mental health. Wellbeing was the most important think for Socrates.
Enjoy whatever life offers to you. In the times that are challenging and hard, you may suffer and become sad but there is no need to be depressed. You must understand life undulates with pain and pleasure. According to the Buddha’s teaching, everything in the world is impermanent, including your emotions and hardships.
You need to have high opinion about yourself. Dig deep into every religions, they teach you about valuing your soul. For instance, in Zen Buddhism, you are taught to practice middle path, abstain from too much ascetism and too much indulgence.
According to Zen Buddhism…
Don’t harm your body by torturing it.
Don’t blame yourself for the happenings beyond your capacity.
Don’t retreat in your solitary.
Don’t be too obsessed with work or money.
Your beliefs, behavior, and attitudes are the products of nature (environment) and nurture (genes). You are conditioned to think the way you think. If you have destructive thoughts, feel bad about yourself, and don’t value your life, your mental health is not good. In order to improve mental health, you must change your perceptions, attitudes and behavior.
If signs of bad mental health develop in you, talk to your family members about how you feel. Psychotherapy may be beneficial for improving mental health. If you cannot talk, or are not willing to talk, you can write about how you feel in a paper and later burn it. Talking to yourself in front of mirror is also very helpful to improve mental health.
Ways to Improve Quality Of Life
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not just absence of disease. According to WHO, quality of life is individuals’ perception of their position in life vis-a-vis culture, values, expectations, goals, standards and concerns. It deals with individuals’ physical and mental health, social relationship, environment and level of independence.
Mental health and quality of life are interlinked, if you improve mental health, you will also improve quality of life. Improving quality of life does not mean your living standard is high, or you are better positioned in the society. Quality of life means you are contented and satisfied with your life. Contentment and satisfaction are linked with happiness. Improving quality of life is related to well-being of individual and society.
Here are some tips you may find helpful to improve quality of life.
Physical health is important
Health is wealth is an age-old aphorism. You can take care of your physical health by doing following things.
- Eat healthy food
- Sleep well
- Avoiding smoking, drinking, or drugs
Stay away from negative thoughts
Negative thoughts not only destroy you but also harm people around you. When negative thoughts brood in your mind, you will become angry, frustrated, self-destructive, and sad. Following things may fill you with positive vibes and improve quality of life.
- Play with your pets
- Share your thoughts
- Laugh out loud
- Play games
- Go for a walk
Stay away from depression
Pain and suffering are realities of life, but don’t let depression touch you. At a time, you may feel sad, lonely, distressed, and dejected. It is very natural. However, you must not give yourself too much to such emotions. These things may help you overcome depression and improve quality of life.
- Flower therapy
- Water therapy
- Herbal tea
- Faith healing
Contemplate on ephemeral nature of the world
Bad things happen in life. People could harm you. The one you loved could abandon you. You could have an accident. You may lose your job or money. However, you must know everything is ephemeral. Good times and hard times are like seasons; they come and wither.
Become a responsible human being
You have to have faith in co-existence. You have to honor morality, righteousness, justice, liberation, and freedom. Willingness to help other people is very important for social well-being.
When you are involved in social interactions and community works, you will be able to improve quality of life.
Spend quality time doing creative activities
Art, literature and music are the mediums to improve quality of life. You can sublimate your anger, frustration, hatred and such more by writing, painting, and playing instrument. Even gardening and home decoration may help you improve quality of life. Creativity will teach you self-discipline. When you are disciplined, you can control your thoughts. Ability to control thoughts is necessary to improve mental health and quality of life.
Improve your mental health
Mental health does not only mean absence of dementia. Good mental health refers to feelings of contentment and liveliness. Following activities may help you improve mental health.
- Feel good movies, plays
How often do you feel low, sad, distressed or dejected?