What is mental health? Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood and aging.

Why is mental health important? Mental health is important because it can help you to cope with the stresses of life, helping to stay physically healthy and have good relationships. Mental health can make meaningful contributions to the community, work productivity and realize your full potential.

Tracking gratitude and achievement with a journal, and include three things you were grateful for and three things that you were able to accomplish each day.

Some ways to boost a good mental health are to; work your strengths, by doing something you’re good at to build self-confidence, and then tackle a tougher task. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step,” said Martin Luther King Jr.

Think of something in your life you want to improve and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.

Experiment with new recipes, write a poem or try painting. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.

Show some love to someone in your life. Close, quality relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.

Keeping your bedroom cool at night helps for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees.

Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.

Go off the grid. Leave your smart phone at home for a day and disconnect from emails, alerts and other interruptions. Spend time doing something fun with someone face to face. Go ahead and yawn, studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.

Spending time with a furry friend lowers the stress hormone cortisol, and boosts oxytocin, which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet hang out with a friend that does or volunteer at a shelter.

Work some Omega-3 fatty acids into your diet; they are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia. Fish oil supplements work, but eating Omega-3’s such as salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also help build healthy gut bacteria.

Practice forgiveness, even if it’s just forgiving that person who cut you off during your drive. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.

“What appear to be calamities are often the sources of fortune,” Disraeli. Try to find the silver lining in a bad situation.

Plan a get away. It could be camping in the spring or a trip to the tropics. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks.

“Anyone who has never mad a mistake has never tried anything new,” said Albert Einstein.

Try some thing outside of your comfort zone to make room for adventure and excitement in your life.

Remember to value yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and respect and avoid self-criticism.

Take care of your body. Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health.

Set realistic goals. Start with small goals like cleaning out junk drawers, or visiting friends. Achievable goals and then build to bigger ones. Gaining a sense of accomplishment is always a boos to good mental health.

“Being able your true self is one of the strongest components of good mental health.” Dr. Lauren Mersy.

Overfield is an advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Park County.

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