When we hear the word health, the first thing that often pops into our minds is physical health but mental health is just as critical to our overall well-being. Mental health is “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (WHO, 2014.). According to a 2007 article published in American Psychologist (Keyes, 2007), mentally healthy adults reported the fewest missed days of work, low levels of helplessness, having clear goals in life, high resilience and high intimacy, the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease, the lowest number of chronic physical diseases, the fewest health limitations of activities of daily living and lower health care utilization.
So, what does it take to achieve and maintain the highest level of mental health? Well, first and foremost it takes an ongoing commitment to preventive maintenance. If we use the example of our car, we know that to keep our car running optimally and to prevent problems down the road we must change the oil, replace our air filters and rotate our tires. Our mental health is no different. To be mentally well we’ve got to engage in regular, preventive maintenance.
What this preventive maintenance entails is different from individual to individual but it may include some combination of quiet time, time with family and friends, time outdoors, engaging in a favorite hobby, physical activity, journaling, meditation, prayer, etc. The important thing is knowing what you need and honoring your commitment to allocate time for it. A daily power hour is a great way to make sure you get your regular preventive maintenance.
If you’re not familiar with the power hour, it is time that you allocate for your daily self care. The morning is often the best time to allocate to self care because there is less of a chance that other things will get in the way and starting your day by nurturing yourself sets the tone for the entire day. If you can’t allocate an hour right off the bat twenty minutes is a great place to start. A morning power hour is the best way to charge your batteries so you can go into your day with full energy to tackle the demands that will be put upon you.
If you’re curious about the morning power hour routines of some of the world’s most successful people you can read about them here. In the meantime, since May is Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage you to think about and take action toward optimizing your mental well-being. Implementing your own power hour is a great place to start. Not only will you benefit but so will everyone around you. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain when it comes to your mental well-being.
Keyes, C.L.M. (2007). Promoting and protecting mental health as flourishing. American Psychologist. 62(2), 95-108. Retrieved from http://www.midus.wisc.edu/findings/pdfs/380.pdf.
World Health Organization (2014.). Mental health: A state of well-being. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/.