Mental Well Being: A Protective Factor

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

May is Mental Health Month.  We usually focus on mental illness when talking about psychological well-being and that is important as upwards of 15% of the population experience severe problems with mental illness.

For the rest of us, it is far better to focus on how we can maintain and even strengthen our emotional health.  May came along just at the right time as it seems like a particularly good time to be having this conversation.

One of the few facts that seems to be coming out of the Pandemic is that people have a range of symptoms from severe and life threatening to hardly noticeable.  While medical co-morbidities are a critical factor in Covid-19 symptoms, so, it appears is immune system strength. Our ability to resist the disease is certainly related to a myriad of factors, including social determinants, but also include our own self-care factors such as nutrition, fitness, sleep, and mental well-being.

In my resilience work, I usually talk about building hardiness as a strategy to strengthen our psychological immunity.  Hardiness can be defined our ability to take on a crisis and see opportunities rather than just seeing danger. Taking these past few weeks to learn a foreign language or helping out a neighbor who is home bound are a few examples of actions we can take to boost that will leave us psychologically stronger.  Even focusing on small actions, we can take each day, like expressing gratitude or taking some extra time to sit with our kids, improve our hardiness which helps keep us on a more stable footing as we deal with the vicissitudes presented by this current challenge.

Check out my Resilience Bingo game on my web site that identifies 25 things that anyone can do and keep track of this month to build mental well-being and resilience immunity.  The game includes challenges to help prepare, navigate, and bounce forward in strengthening resilience as well as actions to avoid (like negative, yucky people) and some ideas to share with work colleagues during those zoom calls.

May is shaping up to be a transition month to this next phase. Let’s give ourselves the gift of finding some mental ease for ourselves and others.

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