What Stresses Your Mental Health?
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition “of full physical, emotional and social well being and not simply the absence of sickness and disease”. A number of definitions have also been used over the years. The best definition, suggested by the WHO, is that health is a state of greater than average health and well-being that can be achieved through active participation and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. It is therefore a state of well being that people want to attain for their entire lives.
The concept of health has become connected with the concept of well-being. The two concepts are often used interchangeably, but the differences between the two are many. Health is generally described as the absence of sickness and disease, while well-being is more typically associated with an attitude or state of being healthy. Health care providers use the term well-being when discussing mental health and other aspects of psychosocial well-being such as emotional well-being, life happiness and satisfaction, personal growth, and resilience.
Health conditions are those that are associated with an actual physical symptom complex. This may include the presence of one or more physical symptoms (e.g., pain), a mental symptom complex (e.g., depression), and a combination of both (e.g., infection). Health conditions can affect the body’s systems, organs, tissues, and/or systems. These include but are not limited to cardiovascular conditions, respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal disorders, reproductive health conditions, skin disorders, cognitive disorders, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, cancer, and infectious diseases.
The relationship between individual health status and total health can be influenced by the level of stress that an individual experiences, the level of physical environment (i.e., neighborhood) in which they live, and the types of physical environment they are surrounded by (i.e., drug use and availability). Societal stigma is a common psychological burden that people who experience it face. Stigma includes discrimination due to physical appearance, age, gender, social status, sexual orientation, or any other category. It can lead to negative health outcomes, and the stress that people who experience it deal with can contribute to poor health outcomes.
The main article in this series discusses the influence of stress on health and the corresponding interventions that can be made to improve overall health. Stressed individuals have lower levels of sleep and higher levels of fatigue. They tend to smoke, eat more healthily, and engage in hazardous occupations. They also have higher rates of substance abuse and greater risks for developing a major health problem, such as heart disease or diabetes. When a person is physically ill, they are less likely to seek medical attention and are at greater risk for illness.
The key to improving your mental health and your physical health is to reduce your daily stress load. In order to do that, you should identify sources of stress in your life and avoid them. Develop new goals that encourage you to take action in reducing your stress load. Find support groups, such as support groups for spouses or colleagues that deal with similar issues, and attend them regularly. Remember that the first step towards a balanced life is self-care, so get help for yourself.