Saturday, January 5, 2013

Maintaining Your Mental Health

During my down time between Christmas and New Year's Day, I filled out this online questionnaire that determines what your real age is based on your current health. The test was divided into four parts that covered stress levels, sleep patterns, diet and exercise, and emotional well-being.

The last part had questions such as: How many friends do you have? How many times do you call them to get together? Are you a member of any social organizations? Do you have pets? 

After I finished the test, I found out my real age was actually 1.5 years younger than my current age. I would have liked a better score, but erring on the younger side of the scale is definitely better than living in a body that's older than your real age.

I was surprised at how much human connection factored into the test. Apparently, the more socially connected a person is in the world, the longer they will likely live.

I realize the value of social connection every time I go through a difficult time. When I had some issues many years ago, I found help through group therapy.

When I was going through breast cancer I was immediately ushered into a breast cancer support group at the Norma Pfriem Breast Cancer Center by my doctors. As cliche as it sounds, it really did make going through treatment easier.

Perhaps that's why I instinctively reached out for help when I started sinking into a depression a year ago. It took a couple of months to find the right doctors that would prescribe medication and find a therapist that was a good fit.

When I finally did, that made all the difference. The outer circumstances of my life haven't changed much. However, the way I react to those circumstances have changed a lot. 

As this new year kicks-off, most everyone vows to lose weight, stop smoking or lay-off the booze. But what about your mental health? Isn't that an important part of your well-being, too?

In light of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut just three weeks ago, it is something to think about.




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