A Quick Start Guide to Improving Your Mental Health & Wellbeing


Understanding Mental Health and Wellbeing

Do you often find yourself overwhelmed by emotions, feeling misunderstood and lacking effective coping skills? This could be your mental health flagging a need for attention. When it comes to wellbeing, many people think about physical fitness or nutritional balance, but mental health also plays a essential role in our overall wellbeing. Just as we might feel physically unfit or unwell at times, our mental health too can waver affecting how we think, feel, and act, how we manage stress, and how we make choices.

Here at DBT of South Jersey, we believe robust mental health is not merely the absence of mental health issues but a state of well-being where each individual can realize their potential, handle stress, work productively, and contribute to their community. It is a key part for feeling connected and being happy with life. If you’ve been struggling to find effective strategies to improve your mental health and wellbeing, you are not alone.

Factors Influencing Mental Health and Wellbeing:

  • Biological factors, like genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Improving and maintaining mental health requires understanding and a proactive approach. This guide will provide insights and tools that can help nurture and enhance your journey to better mental health and wellbeing.

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What is Mental Health and Why is it Important?

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It plays a pivotal role in how we think, feel, and act. It’s not just about the absence of mental illnesses or disorders, but also about having a positive state of mind and being able to enjoy life, cope with stress, and work productively. Mental health is crucial at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health

Mental and physical health are closely interconnected. For instance, depression can increase the risk of various physical health problems, especially chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Conversely, the presence of chronic diseases can also heighten the risk of mental illness. This two-way link underscores the need for a holistic approach to health that encompasses both physical and mental aspects.

The Impact of Mental Health on Daily Life

Mental health significantly influences our daily lives. It affects how we handle stress, make decisions, and interact with others. When mental health is compromised—say, by working long hours, caring for a loved one, or facing economic hardship—our ability to enjoy life and function effectively can be severely hampered.

The Prevalence of Mental Illnesses and Their Causes

Mental illnesses are common, with more than 1 in 5 US adults living with a mental illness. These conditions can be caused by a multitude of factors, including adverse childhood experiences, experiences related to ongoing medical conditions, biological factors or chemical imbalances in the brain, use of alcohol or drugs, and feelings of loneliness or isolation.

At DBT of South Jersey, we understand that mental illness can be overwhelming. But it’s important to remember that help is available, and recovery is possible. As our expert Shaelene Lauriano Kite often says, “There is no single cause for mental illness, and similarly, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person’s journey to recovery is unique.”

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into the concept of mental wellbeing and provide practical tips for improving your mental health. But before we move on, let’s remember the words of the World Health Organization: “There is no health without mental health.” So let’s work together to prioritize our mental health and wellbeing.

What is Mental Wellbeing and How Does it Relate to Mental Health?

Let’s start by defining mental wellbeing. It doesn’t have one set meaning. We might use it to describe how we feel, how well we’re managing daily life, or what feels possible at the moment. Good mental wellbeing doesn’t mean that you’re always happy or unaffected by your experiences, nor does it prevent you from having a mental health problem. You may live with a mental health problem but still have good wellbeing at times. Or you might not have a mental health problem, but be struggling with your wellbeing at the moment .

The Subjectivity of Mental Wellbeing

Mental wellbeing is highly subjective and can vary widely from person to person. It’s essentially about feeling good about ourselves and being able to function well individually or in relationships. For some, it might mean being content with life, for others, it could be the ability to cope with stress, maintain strong relationships, or have a sense of purpose and meaning.

The Impact of Poor Mental Wellbeing on Daily Life

Poor mental wellbeing can make it more difficult to cope with daily life. It can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and unable to handle daily tasks effectively. This can affect your relationships, work, and overall quality of life. According to a post on our website, DBT of South Jersey, one of our therapists shared how she coped with stress during the pandemic, using various strategies such as imagery, relaxation actions, brief vacations, and encouragement.

The Importance of Good Mental Wellbeing

Good mental wellbeing is essential for leading a happy and healthy life. It can help you better manage stress, work more productively, maintain healthy relationships, and contribute to your community. As the NHS explains, acts of giving and kindness can significantly improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings, a sense of reward, and helping you connect with other people.

At DBT of South Jersey, we understand the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, and we’re here to help you achieve it. We believe that good mental wellbeing is key to not just surviving, but thriving in our daily lives.

It’s okay to have bad days. But by understanding and taking care of your mental wellbeing, you can better navigate life’s challenges and live a more fulfilling life.

In the following sections, we’ll explore practical tips for improving your mental health and wellbeing.

Practical Tips for Improving Your Mental Health and Wellbeing

Making conscious choices to improve your mental health and wellbeing can lead to remarkable improvements in your life. Here are some practical steps you can take to enhance your mental wellbeing.

Making Room for Self-Care

Self-care is a crucial part of maintaining good mental health and wellbeing. It’s about understanding your needs and taking the time to meet them. This could involve anything from taking a relaxing bath to taking on a new responsibility at work to challenge yourself. Always remember: “Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.”- Unknown

Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can help you stay grounded in the present moment. It’s about paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations without judgement. At DBT of South Jersey, we offer yoga classes as a form of moving mindfulness practice to help develop the “mindfulness muscle” in our brains.

Finding Relaxing Activities

Engaging in relaxing activities can help decrease stress levels and improve your mood. This could be anything from reading a book, listening to music, or even practicing a relaxation exercise before bed.

Taking Breaks from Stress

Taking regular breaks from stress can help reset your mind and body. This might involve stepping away from your desk to go for a walk, or setting a designated time each day where you disconnect from technology.

Connecting with Others

Connecting with others is a vital part of improving your mental wellbeing. It can help build a sense of belonging and self-worth. This could involve having lunch with a colleague, volunteering at a local community group, or even just switching off the TV to talk or play a game with your family.

Doing Things for Others

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings and a sense of reward. This could be as simple as helping a colleague with a task or volunteering your time to a local charity.

Taking Care of Physical Health

Taking care of your physical health can also improve your mental wellbeing. This might involve incorporating regular exercise into your routine, eating a balanced diet, or ensuring you get enough sleep.

Prioritizing Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for your mental health and wellbeing. Establish a regular sleep routine, give yourself some tech-free time before sleep, and create a comfortable sleeping environment to improve your sleep quality.

By practicing these tips, you can significantly improve your mental health and wellbeing. However, remember that it’s okay to seek professional help if you need it. At DBT of South Jersey, we’re here to support you on your journey to better mental health.

The Role of Relationships in Mental Health and Wellbeing

One of the most vital aspects of mental health and wellbeing is the connections we form with others. Let’s delve into how relationships can bolster your mental wellbeing and how you can cultivate them.

Building Stronger Relationships

Forming and nurturing relationships is crucial for our mental wellbeing. Relationships provide a sense of belonging and self-worth, enable us to share positive experiences, and offer emotional support. Here are a few ways you can strengthen your relationships:

  • Spend quality time with your family daily, like having dinner together.
  • Arrange outings with friends you haven’t seen in a while.
  • Use technology like video-chat apps to stay in touch with loved ones who live far away.

However, remember to balance the use of technology with face-to-face communication. It’s easy to slip into the habit of only ever texting or emailing people, which can’t replace the connection that comes from in-person interactions.

The Importance of Physical Activity

Physical activity is not just beneficial for your physical health, but also for your mental wellbeing. It can boost your self-esteem, help you set and achieve goals, and cause chemical changes in your brain that positively change your mood. Activities can range from running and aerobic exercises to strength and flexibility exercises. The goal is not to spend hours in a gym, but to find activities you enjoy and make them part of your life.

Learning New Skills for Mental Wellbeing

Learning new skills can boost self-confidence, foster a sense of purpose, and help you connect with others. It could be as simple as learning to cook a new dish, taking on a new responsibility at work, or even signing up for a course at a local college. The objective is to find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life.

Acts of Giving and Kindness for Mental Wellbeing

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings and a sense of reward. This could involve volunteering at a local community group, helping a friend or family member who needs support, or simply performing random acts of kindness.

The Practice of Mindfulness for Mental Wellbeing

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. It can be a powerful tool for managing stress and improving overall wellbeing. Many people find activities like yoga helpful in fostering mindfulness. At DBT of South Jersey, we offer private yoga classes that provide individual guidance based on your history, abilities, and goals.

Improving your mental health and wellbeing is a journey, not a destination. It’s about making small, consistent changes that can have a big impact over time. And if you ever feel like you need support, we’re here to help.

Seeking Help for Mental Health Issues

When to Seek Help

Understanding when to seek help for mental health issues can be a challenge, as mental health and wellbeing can fluctuate daily. It’s crucial to be aware of signs that indicate it might be time to seek professional support. These could include persistent feelings of sadness, excessive worry, difficulty concentrating, drastic changes in sleeping or eating patterns, or feelings of hopelessness.

If these signs persist and interfere with daily life or cause distress, it’s time to reach out for help. It’s also crucial to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a step toward improving mental health and wellbeing.

Available Resources for Mental Health Support

There are numerous resources available when it comes to mental health support. If you’re in immediate crisis, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 are available 24/7. For residents in South Jersey, there are local crisis hotlines in various counties, such as Camden County at 1-800-528-3425 and Gloucester County at 856-845-9100.

In addition to hotlines, organizations like The Trevor Project offer support for specific communities such as LGBTQ youth. It’s also worth exploring online resources and local community groups that offer mental health support.

The Role of DBT in Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing

At DBT of South Jersey, we offer Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), an evidence-based therapy that teaches skills to help manage painful emotions and decrease conflict in relationships. DBT is particularly effective for individuals who struggle with emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.

Our DBT program includes individual therapy, group skills training, and phone coaching. We also offer online therapy for those who prefer or require the convenience of remote sessions.

In DBT, we emphasize the development of four key skills: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. These skills are designed to help individuals improve their mental health and wellbeing by managing their emotions, tolerating distressing situations, and improving relationships.

Everyone’s journey to improving their mental health and wellbeing is unique and it’s okay to ask for help. As the saying goes, ‘Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.’

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We’re here to support you on your journey to better mental health and wellbeing. If you or a loved one needs support, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Conclusion: The Journey to Better Mental Health and Wellbeing

Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing is not a destination, but a journey. It’s a lifelong commitment that requires awareness, understanding, and regular practice of healthy habits. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as each person’s experiences and needs are unique. The important thing is to find what works best for you and to remember that it’s okay to seek help when you need it.

Remember that mental health is as important as physical health. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices in our lives. It’s crucial to our overall wellbeing and should be prioritized.

Cultivate habits that improve your mental wellbeing. This includes practicing self-care, mindfulness, connecting with others, doing things for others, taking care of your physical health, and prioritizing sleep. It may seem challenging at first, but even small changes can lead to big improvements over time.

Embrace the power of relationships and community. As humans, we are social creatures and our relationships play a critical role in our mental health and wellbeing. Make time for your loved ones, engage in activities that foster connection, and don’t be afraid to lean on others for support when you need it.

Never stop learning. Engaging in new experiences and learning new skills can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem, provide a sense of purpose, and help you connect with others. Whether it’s learning to cook a new recipe, taking on a new responsibility at work, or picking up a new hobby, learning is a powerful tool for mental wellbeing.

Give back. Acts of giving and kindness can create positive feelings and a sense of reward, further improving your mental wellbeing. This could be as simple as lending an ear to a friend in need or as significant as volunteering in your local community.

At DBT of South Jersey, we’re committed to supporting individuals on their journey towards improved mental health and wellbeing. Our team is dedicated to providing empirically based mental health therapy to individuals of all identities. Whether it’s through individual therapy, group therapy, or couples and family therapy, we’re here to help. We also offer resources and online services for those who may need it.

It’s okay to seek help. You’re not alone, and there’s no shame in needing support. Every step you take, no matter how small, is a step towards better mental health and wellbeing. So, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can, and always remember, we’re here for you.

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For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.


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