May is Mental Health Month

Certain important topics are slowly becoming less taboo by being brought into the light of the public to be explored. I can appreciate a whole month dedicated to a topic which affects everyone, but one most people shy away from. This is why May is dedicated to the ongoing discussion of the importance of maintaining our mental health by doing simple, thought-full acts to engage the health of our minds (and our bodies)!

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Many people care deeply about their physical health. Our bodies keep us alive and responsive to the world around us. If we cannot do what we expect our bodies to accomplish, we tend to worry, and put lots of energy into righting whatever is amiss in our bodies.

But what about our minds? The brain is obviously part of our anatomical system, but it tends to be viewed in a different light than the rest of our bodies. This is usually called the “mind-body problem”. In a nutshell, the question of the mind-body problem asks, “Are your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, sensations, and wishes things that happen in addition to all the physical processes in your brain, or are they themselves just some of those physical processes?” *

[This has been debated in philosophy for forever, but with new research coming out, we’re always learning about how our minds and bodies are connected!]

Basically our challenge becomes that we usually pay more attention to our bodies than we do our brains, but our brains are the powerhouses of our bodies! They’re in charge of our development, motor control, emotion, language, cognition, senses – basically everything that makes us, us!

So many different things affect our minds, but so often we don’t want to pay attention to these things.

So! Mental Health America has brilliantly put together many simple ways our minds are affected by what we do in our day-to-day lives. Namely, one way per day for the whole month.

For example, today (day 9) is #WorkplaceWednesday, where the focus is on the importance of water consumption throughout the workday. Tomorrow is #ThoughtfulThursday, where the importance of healthy pleasure by giving is noted: “Studies have shown activity in the brain’s pleasure centers and other benefits to mental health occur when people donate or volunteer with charitable organizations.”**

Make sure you check out the #4Mind4Body challenge here, and let us know how you’re engaging in Mental Health Awareness Month!

*http://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil100/mindintro.html
** http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/4mind4body-challenge


By: Karen Huckaby, MA, AMFT