By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Eat right. Exercise. Get medical check-ups.
All of these may help you maintain better physical health. But what about mental health? Of course, genetics affect health, but by good self-care, you can reduce your risk of experience issues.
Try these tips from two local experts:
From Daniel Rosen
Licensed clinical social worker in practice in Rochester
• “The research I’ve been integrating into my practice is by Carol Dweck, who developed the concept of ‘growth mindset’ versus ‘fixed mindset.’ Some people grow, change and move forward and others seem to not get very far or reach a plateau and not develop farther. Many factors go into it, but it relates to what is your mindset. If you don’t have a growth mindset mentality, that can change. At age 30, can you become a concert pianist? Maybe not, but you can learn to play better. The idea that we’re as smart or talented as we are and that’s it works against our mental health. We want to grow, and develop and change and improve. The fascinating thing about this is if you have a fixed mindset, it’s harder for you to learn new things.
• “’Fake it till you make it,’ to a great extend, has some truth to it. Smiling and faking that you’re happy does trigger emotional components that make you feel happier.
• “Research says gratitude and forgiveness are healthful.
• “People who have a spiritual life, which doesn’t necessarily mean religious affiliation, are a little more resilient in their mental health. Spiritual life is an awareness that there’s something bigger than myself.
• “The New Age model of ‘Don’t get too tied up in other people’s opinions of you’ and ‘Don’t compare with others’ opinions of you’ is a self-centered mindset. People who are happy are socially connected. It’s almost a problem to think you’re going to lift yourself out of your woes and think and solve and meditate your way out of it alone.
• “Strong interpersonal connections help us tolerate when life keeps up down. Satisfying relationships where we are appreciated and feel valued is antidote to many mental health problems.
• “Learn how to set boundaries and have mercy on yourself when it comes to difficult people. Identify what your needs are, and set boundaries and do not take on too much of other people’s stuff or try to do too much. People do get drained because they’re not able to say, ‘I need to focus on something different.’”
From Gail A. Kolb, PhD
Owner of Coach for Change Unlimited in Rochester
• “If people can develop the idea of emotional hardiness or resilience within themselves, it helps them to cope with stress.
• “Having positive relationships both in the family and outside of the family and mutual support and caring.
• “Another thing I work on is developing strategies for coping with life’s challenges. We develop strategies and goals together.
• “It helps to have a person who’s in your life and able to give you feedback. It could be a coach, therapist or someone else you really respect.
• “Have a sense of control over your life in whatever ways you can. It makes you feel more confident and at ease.
• “Develop an ability to see change as a positive thing — a challenge you want to master. That helps you feel less anxious.
• “Relaxation and progressive relaxation, and guided imagery can help people feel less stress in their lives.
• “Look into your higher self. Stay grateful and realize that what you have going for you is good and you have the ability to grow and become a more positive person.
• “Don’t sink into thinking about the past or the difficulties of the past. Move forward toward making better choices today and for the future.
• “Always have options so you don’t feel stuck. Don’t leave out any options. If you can’t find them, go to someone who can help you think them through.
• “Develop an overall coping strategy so when stress happens, you won’t have a relapse of ‘I can’t cope or think.’
• “Enjoy life. Don’t take it so seriously. Some people can’t think in the positive. Try to be as positive as possible. This is a great day for challenge and fun. Don’t dread it.
• “Notice you’re starting to get depressed or anxious and not able to relax. Talk with a therapist or coach. If you’re not coping well, you may need help.”