Posted on March 2, 2015 by Enrique Mata
Working with Paso del Norte Health Foundation’s Think.Change initiative, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of the vital role mental and emotional well-being plays in overall health. Building a society of acceptance and support includes practicing positive thinking, which contributes to better emotional health. I learned firsthand that each of us plays a role in reducing the negative bias associated with mental and emotional illness.
In 2006, my brother was diagnosed with stage III rectal cancer at 39 years of age and went through more than a year of treatment and surgeries. Throughout the entire time, I could not get over his emotional strength. Even when his world was surrounded by people preparing him for the worst, he got up every morning did what he could to exercise, eat well, meditate and do something constructive. In his case, he created art pieces or worked on detailing a classic car he owned. In those toughest of days I’d ask him how he maintained his positive outlook. He would tell me “it’s all mental.” This year, my brother will turn 51 and has been cancer free for almost ten years. He still battles with day to day digestive issues, but he maintains his formula for emotional well-being and shares his experiences with others. It turns out his formula for success is consistent with what researchers tell us about the importance of mental and emotional well-being.
The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration explains that an important part of emotional wellness is training yourself to be more positive or optimistic. While this may not be easy, positive thinking during tough times will help you stay hopeful. It can improve your chances of moving past your problems. Positive thinking is also linked to better health. Some people are more optimistic than others, but everyone can learn how to be more positive.
Here are some tips:
Seek the positive: When things go wrong, look for something positive. For example, if your friend cancels your dinner plans, look at it as a chance to do something for yourself. You could choose to read a book or call another friend instead.
Focus on the good things: Even when something upsets you in one part of your life, you can still focus on the things you value in other areas. This helps you to keep perspective and to cope.
Take care of yourself: Get plenty of rest. Eat healthy foods and be physically active.
Stay connected and share how you are doing: Seek out trusted family members and friends who can offer support, even over the phone or through e-mail.
Ask for help: Everyone needs help from time to time. If you feel overwhelmed, ask friends, a social worker, a faith-based organization, or your doctor to find professional help.
In a recent Ted Talk, Dr. Guy Winch spoke on the importance of “emotional Hygiene,” the idea that as a society we should consider our emotional health just as important in daily routine as brushing your teeth twice a day. One way to start is to learn more about the myths and facts surrounding mental and emotional well-being. Research has shown that one of the most important factors in maintaining mental health is the understanding and acceptance of friends and family. Let’s take those first steps to practice positive thinking and learn more about mental and emotional well being. If we work together we can build a society of support and daily family routines that embrace conversations about mental and emotional health.
Fore more information, contact Enrique Mata, Senior Program Officer at 915-544-7636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about programs that are offered as part of the Think.Change initiative:
Mental Health First Aid Certification program contact El Paso County - Emergence Health Network in at: (915) 779-1800 www.emergencehealthnetwork.org
Doña Ana County – Dona Ana Health and Human Services
Family to Family, NAMIi Basics and In Our Own Voice programs contact NAMI El Paso at: 915-534-5476 www.nami.org
De Mujer a Mujer Program for Women contact Texas A&M Colonias Program at: (915) 860-9528 http://colonias.arch.tamu.edu/our-regions/western/
Winch, G. (2015) Ted Talk: The case for emotional hygiene accessed 2/14/2015 at: https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene
Health Resources and Services Administration (2007) Bright Futures: A woman’s guide to emotional wellness accessed 1/23/2015 at: http://mchb.hrsa.gov/womenshealth/resources.html
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