Disappointed in life?
Feeling stressed out?
Not having any fun?
Feeling worn out?
If your answer is YES, you are not alone.
No one experiences perfect mental health or well-being all of the time. We all have to learn how to balance the different aspects of our lives. When things in our life change, we have to re-establish the balance. However, ongoing mental health problems can take a real toll on your well-being.
Your mental health can affect many areas of your life
Work, school, or home life
Relationships with others
Ability to think clearly or make decisions
Life satisfaction and more...
Mental health is just as important to our lives as our physical health
Mental health is not the same thing as the absence of a mental illness. Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being. It can influence:
How you feel about yourself, the world and your life
Your ability to solve problems and overcome challenges
Your ability to build relationships with others and contribute to your communities
Your ability to achieve your goals
Many people take care of their physical health before they feel sick. They may eat well, exercise and try to get enough sleep to help maintain wellness. You can take the same approach to mental health. Just as you may work to keep your body healthy, you can also work to keep your mind healthy.
4 basic dimensions of mental health and well-being
The way you think about something has a big impact on your mental health. Changes in your thoughts often go along with changes in your mental health. When you feel well, it's easier to see life in a more balanced and constructive way. When you aren't well, it's easy to get stuck on negative things and ignore positive things.
Examples of helpful thoughts
I know I can cope and get through these rough times
There are things in my life that I feel excited about!
I know my friends really care about me
I feel good about the way my life is going these days
I have some really cool talents and interests
I want to do something that makes a positive difference
I'm a good person even though I have some flaws
I feel grateful for the good things in my life
Examples of negative thoughts
It feels like something really bad is going to happen
Nothing good ever seems to happen to me
I'm never going to get through this
My flaws are too big to overcome
I feel like I’m losing my mind
I'm ugly and stupid
They think I’m a loser
Body reactions are changes in your body functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion, brain chemicals, hormones and more. Changes in your body reactions often go along with changes in your mental health.
Examples of body reactions
Muscle tension, muscle aches or headaches
Upset stomach or nausea
Upset bowels or diarrhea
Lack of appetite or increased appetite
Sweating, hot flushes or cold chills
Chest pain, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Pounding, racing or abnormal heartbeat
Feeling dizzy or light-headed
Tingling in hands and/or feet
Feeling that you're separated from things around you
Aggravation of an existing health problem (e.g., acne, digestive disorders, migraines, chronic pain, etc.)
Changes in sexual functioning, such as decreased sex drive
A big part of emotions is the way you feel. Emotions can be pleasant, unpleasant or blended, such as when you have two emotions at the same time. Changes in emotions often accompany changes in mental health.
Examples of emotions/feelings
Happiness or joy
Feeling love or affection
Irritability or anger
Anxiety or fear
Sadness or feeling down
Behaviours are the ways you act and respond to your environment. Some behaviours are helpful, and some can be harmful. Changes in behaviour often go along with changes in mental health.
Examples of helpful behaviours
Working on a solution to a problem one step at a time
Reaching out to a friend or family member for support and understanding
Practicing your spiritual activities
Doing something relaxing like taking a bath or practicing yoga
Engaging in hobbies or leisure activities
Examples of harmful behaviours
Isolating yourself and pulling away from friends and family
Using alcohol or drugs to make bad feelings go away
Avoiding the things that upset you
Overeating, not eating enough, or purging food (such as vomiting, over-exercising)
Lashing out at other people (verbally or physically)
Excessively depending on loved ones or clinging to loved ones
Mental health is determined by our overall patterns of thoughts, emotions, behaviours and body reactions.
Each of the four mental health dimensions can influence all of the others. Here's an example.
4 basic dimenstion
Why should mental health matter to you and your family?
When your mental health suffers, it can become hard to enjoy life. You may start to feel run down, both mentally and physically. Many of these changes can make it harder to enjoy a balanced and rewarding life. Everyone can benefit from learning how to enhance and protect their mental health—whether or not they’ve experienced mental illness or a substance use problem.
Why should mental health matter to you and your family?
When your mental health suffers, it can become hard to enjoy life. You may start to feel run down, both mentally and physically. Many of these changes can make it harder to enjoy a balanced and rewarding life. Everyone can benefit from learning how to enhance and protect their mental health—whether or not they've experienced mental illness or a substance use problem.
Where do I start?
The BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information have a lot of information on how to improve your mental health and well-being. Check out our other Wellness Modules, fact sheets, personal stories and other useful resources for you and your family at www.heretohelp.bc.ca. We're here to help.
You might also be interested in...
Canadian Mental Health Association—visit www.cmha.bc.ca
HealthLink BC—visit www.healthlinkbc.ca or call 8-1-1
Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre—visit www.keltymentalhealth.ca
Quiz: What is your wellness level?
What does my score mean?
Your score reflects the degree of balance you have across the different areas in your life, how well you are coping, and how good you feel about things. These are all important aspects of wellness and mental health. There is no magic score that guarantees perfect wellness, so we have not included any guidelines on “high” or “low” scores and what they mean. Instead, we recommend using this self-test to track your own wellness status over time.
If you are actively working on ways to improve your health, your score will probably go up over time. Increases usually mean that you are feeling better about things and feeling like you can cope with life’s challenges while still finding time for fun. If you are experiencing stress or changes in your overall health, your score may go down for a period of time. Decreases usually mean that it is harder to feel good about things and that you are struggling to find a sense of balance. Decreases in scores can be an important sign that you need to take action to make things better for yourself. Most people experience ups and downs in their wellness scores over time. To track your own wellness and general mental health over time, we recommend taking this test once a month.
Adapted from Massé, R., Poulin, C., Lambert, J., & Dassa, C. (1998). Élaboration et validation d’un outil de mesure du bien-être psychologique au Québec. Revue canadienne de santé publique, 89(5), 352-357.
About the authors
Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division helps people access the community resources they need to maintain and improve mental health, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness. CMHA BC has served BC for over 60 years.
Anxiety Canada promotes awareness of anxiety disorders and increases access to proven resources. Visit www.anxietycanada.com.
Select sources and additional resources:
Snyder, C.R. & Lopez, S.J. (2002). Handbook of Positive Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Canadian Institute for Health Information. (2009). Improving the Health of Canadians: Exploring positive mental health. Ottawa, ON: Author. www.cpa.ca/cpasite/userfiles/Documents/Practice_Page/positive_mh_en.pdf
Cowen, A. S. & Keltner, D. (2017). Self-report captures 27 distinct categories of emotion bridged by continuous gradients. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114, E7900-E7909. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.170224711