Optimal mental health

Human beings naturally tend to be dissatisfied with their current situation no matter how hard they had to push through even to get to that point. All of a sudden when a new desire emerges, everything else becomes irrelevant and we start to run towards our next goal, our next aim or desire for self-fulfillment. If we view this scenario under Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; Maslow proposed that we have five categories of needs and these categories are arranged in hierarchy.  Together they form sort of a pyramid where the lower levels are pre-requisites for the higher levels, and we progress through this hierarchy from bottom to top – when one level becomes adequately satisfied, it is possible for us to focus on the next level.

We can use it as a rough guide to point out the gaps in our life. One scenario might be that a person is feeling miserable in their current situation, so the easiest place to look is to run down at the bottom level of Maslow’s hierarchy to see if it’s something that’s straight forward to identify. The person should be able to identify if he is hungry, hydrated or has he been getting good quality sleep and if he’s missing those, he should try to get those needs filled as soon as possible because these are the most consistent factors related to well-being. In another scenario if a person is generally tensed, worried, irritated, depressed, tired while the basic needs are fulfilled, then the person should see if he has that sense of security physically as well as emotionally; whether the person’s basic dignity and privacy is being considered or not. Many people have a hard time towards reaching self-fulfillment needs because they do not have basic sense of security, so one should look towards seeking help from people they can trust or through mentorship.

Another possible scenario is that on paper a person’s life is all in order but he doesn’t feel a lot of positive emotions; this is genuinely a red flag for running low on love and belonging because this category of needs is the most associated with positive emotions. The good news is that love is free but the hard news is that this doesn’t mean it’s easy; close friendships are difficult to maintain long-term, families frequently get into argument with one another and romantic relationships do end. Human being tend to take their most meaningful and close relationships for-granted henceforth forgetting to nurture it on regular basis because they assume that they are there for good. For the final scenario, suppose one has all of his needs fulfilled and even if they are not fulfilled, one at least is at peace with them because he can’t do anything to change them, he might have something tugging at him, this something is curiosity, or pride or drive to achieve. This is where esteem or self-actualization comes into view, so to fulfill this level one must link towards values, because values are more aspirational. The values point a person to grander, more abstract things such as mastery, service, creativity beauty, spirituality because they give you a sense of purpose.

The Do’s and Don’ts of optimal mental health

Let go of toxic people: One’s mental health must be protected from toxic people. Toxic people are those people who might be good people in general but under certain circumstances, they become harmful for one human being only. The circumstances can be unlimited but the end result is always one person draining the life from another person by projecting their own insecurities on to the other person. So. Adult life really asks for bare minimum we continue to realize the worth of people surrounding us, so when we finally do realize it, it becomes harder to let go of people close to you. Bear in the mind that toxic people are the ones who are very close to you. So, one should be brave enough to let go of toxic friends no matter how hard it might be for them. This is the biggest ‘do’ for optimal mental health because a person cannot reach their full potential while there is someone binding them to specific rules that straight up go against their personality.

Don’t let shyness ruin your opportunities: One should not be shy for optimal mental health, now being respectful is one thing, the shyness I am talking is the shyness that ruins the opportunities.  For optimal mental health, the regret section of our head should carry the minimal space, which can only be achieved if a person takes on a task without binding themselves to nearly non-existent norms in their head. Shyness does ruin the opportunities, so for efficient and optimal mental health, do that one thing that has been on nudging your head for too long. It might be a matter as sensitive as proposing your significant others but on should really think that what’s the worst that could happen? (worse will happen and then you’ll be busy dealing with the consequences of your actions than being shy, congratulations level up)

Stop Procrastinating: Another big ‘do’ for optimal mental health is to get your tasks from your ‘to-do list for the day’ done and to stop procrastinating. The undone task usually keep ticking a person’s brain like a time-bomb. So get that task done and enjoy the rest of your day. Conversely, do not let procrastination get in the way of your optimal mental health or the ‘premium subscription’ of mental health and get tasks done.

Eat, sleep, drink – repeat: According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the most basic needs are physiological needs so one should sleep well, eat well and drink lots of water for optimal mental health.

Mind your own business: As it is said that “Ignorance is a bliss”, so one should mind their own business in order to preserve their peace and avoid getting themselves into details that they don’t really need to know. Because curiosity of human beings often leads them to trouble or curiosity kills the cat so one should mind their own business because you really don’t need ‘that’ information for survival so why even get into it in the first place.

Get your priorities straight: One should get their priorities straight for optimal mental health; which means that if there is an order for tasks in your head and you go one step at a time, the level of responsibility you’re craving will ultimately be at your feet.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Just like the sociopaths who eat bad part of their food first, we shall also discuss the disadvantages of bad mental health first. Like we discussed earlier in detail that bad mental health is actually just consequences of your own actions. It is said that ‘”we are our choices” so if we make a bad choice definitely there will be consequences such as bad self-esteem, inherent guilt, perpetual distrust towards others, or fear or anger. In short bad mental health can lead to bad vibes in personality overall.

While on the other hand, the advantages of good mental health are enormous. By completing your daily tasks and undertaking healthy routines one can reach towards an unmatched level of confidence-boost. Optimal mental health is also “good vibes” because the air surrounding a person with good mental health is just different and healthy in general.

Mahnoor Mushtaq
Mahnoor Mushtaq
Student of International Relations at National Defense University, Islamabad.