As women we talk about mental health and the associated activities that go with it, me time, retail therapy, quality time, down time etc. Mental health as defined by the World Health Organization is … "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community". How wonderful, if only …..
There is no real scientific measure of when our mental health begins to physically decline. We recognize when it has happened and we label it amongst other things depression or dementia. But what about all that time in between and is it really mental health at all, is it emotional health that we really mean?
I always see mental health as being about the cognitive process(es) whereas emotional health I would say is not how quickly we solve an issue, but how we respond to the issue initially, what is our gut reaction. Once resolved do we linger in the aftermath picking through each step and worrying we may have chosen the wrong path or do we put it one side, confident we’ve made the right decision.
So how could mental wealth be determined? Perhaps it’s for those with additional “leetle grey cells” à la Hercule Poirot , the egg-heads as we affectionately call them. Is it for those who appear to sail through life without a care in the world and appear to have extra capacity to handle stress. Is it those who don’t use their brains at all and have massive amounts of unused brain cells sitting comfortably waiting to spring into action should the need arise?
Perhaps it’s having the capacity and ability to accommodate excessive strains on both cognitive reasoning and emotional well-being, without any breakdown or adverse reaction – one could argue specific areas of military life definitely achieve mental wealth!
For women who’ve got children, have a demanding career, care for family members or heaven forbid all of the above, just achieving emotional health can be a struggle. And perhaps this is why we as women concentrate on emotional health with the belief that if we have that, the mental health will follow.
But trying to “have it all” or “lean forward” or “crack the glass ceiling” doesn’t necessarily advocate mental wealth. And I am sure it’s not just us ladies that strive for mental wealth I think the chaps want it too, although I suspect many would say they already have it, depending on how you define it :-)
Keeping your brain active is we know a good thing, it can help with the slowing of mental deterioration as we age. Feeling we are in control of our emotional state and not having too many extremes, keeping the cortisol levels low, we also know is a good thing and can help in the physical anti-aging battle.
So should we also be striving for mental wealth as we individually define it or will we be putting additional pressure on ourselves, is this one more thing to try and attain as part of our longevity plan? Or does it in fact not exist at all - what do you think?
Look Gorgeous, Feel Fabulous - Sophie