While there’s not a lot of publicly available data regarding mental health concerns in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, there is significant information available for the world in general. In fact, a World Mental Health Survey found that between 11 and 18% of any country or territory’s population may suffer from a mental disorder within a year. For CNMI, with a population of under 57,000 people as of 2018, those figures are significant.
Still, there is a lot of hope. Since 1976, there have been several milestones toward the promotion of better mental health services in the Northern Mariana Islands. More importantly, the stigma surrounding mental illness has gradually faded over the years. People are becoming more open about their conditions, actively promoting not just awareness but also ways to take care of one’s mental health.
Indeed, there are a lot of things you can do to promote your mental well-being. Here are just a few:
Talk About It
Not everyone is comfortable talking about their feelings. Don’t pressure yourself to open up to your friends and loved ones. Just keep in mind that talking about your feelings can help you feel less burdened and alone. It doesn’t make you weak; rather, it puts you in charge of your health and wellness. In addition, talking about your feelings may also encourage others to do the same and in turn improve their own mental and emotional state.
Give yourself some time, and surround yourself with people you trust. If you want to meet new friends, consider joining clubs or enrolling in classes to learn a new hobby. Make plans with your support circle, and let the conversations develop naturally. Soon, talking about your feelings will be easier and feel more normal.
Get in Touch with a Professional
If you’d rather talk about your feelings with an objective third party, why not see a mental health professional? Psychologists in CNMI can provide not just emotional and mental support, but also recommendations for further treatment if needed. Much like talking about your feelings, asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and determination to get help from a counseling service like BetterHelp.
Studies have shown that what you eat can affect your mental health. After all, the brain is also an organ and thus needs a healthy mix of nutrients to function well. Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as whole grain, nuts and seeds, and oily fish. If you have other underlying health conditions like diabetes, make sure to follow the diet prescribed by your doctor. Finally, make sure to drink plenty of water, and limit your intake of alcohol, sugary drinks, and caffeine.
Exercise is also believed to contribute to good mental health because physical activity releases “feel good” chemicals like endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin in the body. Regular workouts can also help with mental focus and even contribute toward better sleep. Of course, exercise also ensures physical fitness and keeps the brain and other internal organs in good shape. You don’t have to confine yourself to the “traditional” exercise, too. There are plenty of things that can keep you active such as dancing or martial arts.
Do Something Good for Others
Doing something good for others can make you feel good. These positive feelings can drown out the negative ones, thus improving your mental and emotional state. Volunteerism is one of the easiest ways to contribute something to the community. If you’d rather start small and somewhere closer to home, why not try helping out your neighbors or members of your local community? You can also think of something you’re good at, say cooking or making arts and crafts, and determine how you can use that talent to help others.
Give Yourself a Break
There are people who find comfort in routine because it makes them feel more secure. However, a change of pace or scene can do wonders for one’s mental health. Give yourself a break from your daily routine to recharge your mind. It doesn’t even have to be something as grand as a week-long vacation (but of course you can do that, too!). Even taking a 15-minute cat nap or trying a new restaurant can make you feel refreshed and put you in a better mood.
One of the best ways to ensure mental wellness is to practice gratefulness. Admittedly, there are times when it’s difficult to do so. When this happens, focus on the simple things. Count the things you are most thankful for, and write them down to make them feel more tangible. A good idea is to keep a gratitude journal that you can go back to whenever you’re sad or demotivated.
Being grateful also means accepting what makes you unique. Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, appreciate what makes you different. Feel good about it! This will boost your confidence and in turn help you manage difficult situations.
Remember that good mental health doesn’t just mean that you don’t have a mental illness. Even if a person is perfectly healthy, they can still suffer from bouts of negative moods and emotions that can affect their frame of mind. Thus, these tips can help everyone in taking better care of their mental health. Remember these simple suggestions and try to make a habit of them for your overall well-being.