Mental health is an essential part of overall health. When we are mentally healthy, we can cope with life stresses, have positive relationships and make healthy choices. When we are not mentally healthy, our lives are impacted. Debbie Fuehrer is a mind body medicine counselor and assistant professor of medicine who works with patients to discover why mental healing may not be happening and how to help patients feel better. “Improving mental health involves reducing distressing symptoms: poor sleep, depressed or anxious mood, irritability, etc. It also includes improving functionality at work, at home, and in relationships. This is a baseline, but eventually, I want to help my patients find the courage to experience joy,” says Fuehrer.
Fuehrer explains that our minds are often filled with negative thoughts, and our brains move us toward emotional pain. As a mind body medicine counselor, she teaches patients how to focus attention on meaningful values. Instead of ruminating over past mistakes and worries, Fuehrer encourages patients to practice gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning and purpose, forgiveness, celebration and reflection. These values help to focus on what is going right in our lives and how we can make a positive impact.
To support yourself and your mental health, Fuehrer suggests, “Be deliberate and actively set aside time to enjoy an uplifting emotion.” Consider taking just 10 minutes to be in nature, text a compliment to a friend, listen to music, admire art, listen to someone else’s story or simply smile at someone. Share a good story about your day. If you can’t think of one, create one using gratitude, compassion, forgiveness or another higher value. Start small, build momentum and increase consistency in your self-care routines. All of this promotes mental health. Above all, says Fuehrer, “Be kind to yourself today.”