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Mental health is something we all have. Just like we have a physical health. We can have days where we feel on top of the world, checking so many things off of our to-do list, meeting with friends, feeling fulfilled and just good. You know those days? Maybe it’s been awhile since you’ve had one of those days, maybe things have been so stressful that you can’t even remember what that kind of day feels like.. Don’t worry! We will get to that issue in a bit. But for now, just know that mental health is defined as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” If we are taking care of ourselves as best we can, taking breaks when we need them, making time for the things that we enjoy, etc etc.. we should have a pretty good mental health. We should feel good, be able to manage all we need to each and every day, and be pretty happy.
Mental illness on the other hand is like when we catch a cold. You first start to feel extra tired, then maybe your nose starts running, and you begin to cough. You have caught an illness. It has taken over your body and you aren’t able to do all that you need to do. You have to rest, take your medicine, and take care of yourself until you feel better. Right? Mental illness is just the same! A mental illness impairs our ability to function in our daily life, but with proper treatment we can manage the symptoms so that we can go back to living our life. But just like a cold, if we don’t take care of ourselves, you know when you aren’t sleeping enough, working too much, you are more susceptible to catching a cold, and the same goes for our mental health. If we don’t take care of ourselves, and do the things we need to in order for us to feel good, our mental health can become a mental illness.
The last thing I do want to address is neuroplasticity. Now neuroplasticity is defined as, “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.” Which really means that yes you can teach an old dog new tricks.. And yes our brains can heal and change. It’s really the whole reason therapy works! And I wanted to end by talking about neuroplasticity is because it can offer some hope when we can feel like it’s never going to get better. Research on many different mental illnesses from borderline personality disorder to depression shows that if we take care of our mental health, take our medication, and work to use all the tools we are learning in therapy, our brain can rearrange the connections so that we no longer have the mental illness we had before. Like it slowly moves things over accommodate all the new behaviors and communication skills you are trying out, sure it’s hard at first because it’s new and not comfortable, but it does get easier. Try BetterHelp
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