Minding the Mind

Too many of us worry about our physical health AFTER something unpleasant or serious happens to our bodies. It’s too easy to ignore healthy eating until one day we find that our clothes no longer fit comfortably. Possibly we have overlooked the need for sunscreen until the first bout with skin cancer. Or perhaps we have neglected to participate in a daily walking routine until after the first heart attack. Rather than wait for illness to occur, modern medicine encourages us to do preventative care: eat well, exercise, tend to a regular sleep cycle, take medicines regularly if we have them, etc. If we are wise and diligent, we will do such things.

It is no different with mental/emotional/behavioral health. We can ignore or deny our worsening mood until the day comes when we can no longer function. We can allow our stress to worsen to the point that our health, work, and relationships are negatively affected. It is all too easy to ignore our behavior toward our spouse until the divorce papers arrive.

Tending to our mental/emotional/behavioral health is essential to a life well lived and enjoyed. Unfortunately, humans often tend toward destructive solutions because they so often seem to be quick means to the ends for which we are hoping. Drinking, smoking, use of unprescribed medicines or substances, laying out of work, having an affair, being chronically and excessively busy, sleeping excessively or staying in bed, eating what we want when we want are all helpful to some extent but never manage to solve our problems. Instead, they tend to worsen our situations long after the minimal help is extinguished.

As an alternative, tending to our physical health, eating and sleeping well, getting regular exercise, participating in spiritual events or practices, having good and happy relationships, having someone to whom we can share miseries/woes as well as joys/successes, tending to grief, managing stresses, working toward healthy marriages, striving for a positive outlook, meditating, planning, etc., can help us maintain our mental/emotional/behavior health and, sometimes, even improve it. But like physical health, there comes a time when we know we can no longer improve ourselves alone but need the help of a professional. And just as it is no shame to see your physician when you are physically ill, it is no shame to seek the help of a professional counselor.

Healthy bodies and healthy minds will give us more pleasant, meaningful, and satisfying lives.

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