Sunday, July 14, 2024
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About Mental Health

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Episode 2 with Psychologist Flavia Cardaș, PhD

Welcome back! Today I invite you to explore what mental health means, what are the indicators that we are mentally healthy, what are the symptoms of mental health challenges, and how we can address the difficulties we are experiencing in order to recover.

Mental health is part of our overall health. There is no physical health without mental, emotional, psychological, social health. Even if we tend to separate the body from all other dimensions of human being (mind, emotions, etc.), in reality, according to the latest scientific research, they are interconnected and thus influence each other. Our organism is a complex system, which permanently acts to obtain the state of equilibrium (homeostasis).

Mental health is influenced by many factors, such as biological / genetic factors (we are born with certain characteristics, traits), family history of mental health (the influence of mental health of parents, grandparents, extended family in raising a child), life experiences (which supports the harmonious development or truncates / blocks it, as in cases of abuse, neglect, accidents, etc.). All these factors shape our personality and change us, most of the time, without us being aware of all these influences.

More specifically, how do we feel when we are mentally and psycho-emotionally balanced? Some indicative examples:

  • We trust and respect ourselves (through physical, emotional, mental care)
  • We trust and respect others
  • We can manage our emotions and express them in a healthy way (for example, we cry when we are sad, we laugh when we are happy, we communicate firmly when we are angry or upset, etc.)
  • We make changes when we feel that something is wrong
  • We ask for help when we need it, but we are also able to solve difficulties on our own
  • We say “no” when we don’t want something
  • We apologize when we make a mistake
  • We have plans, dreams, hopes and we can make them happen, step by step
  • We have relationships in which we feel appreciated, encouraged, supported, and, in turn, we offer appreciation, encouragement, support

What are some of the signs that our mental health is deteriorating?

  • We withdraw, we isolate ourselves from others, we feel misunderstood permanently or most of the time
  • We don’t have the energy to do things that are simple or that we usually like
  • We are irritable, impulsive, nervous, irritated, negative most of the time
  • We feel helpless, hopeless, overwhelmed, even by small things
  • We feel that we no longer have control over any element of our life, including our own
  • We consume various substances (alcohol, psychoactive substances, etc.) in excess and we feel that we can not manage what we feel without consuming them
  • We are in constant conflict with everyone, we are screaming, “exploding” and we are extremely critical of ourselves
  • We eat too much or too little
  • We sleep too much, too little or have insomnia
  • We don’t feel anything, like we have an inner emptiness or we are numb
  • We’re thinking of hurting ourselves or other people
  • We are ashamed most of the time
  • We are very sad most of the time

All these indicators are messages of our body that we need care, attention, support to overcome the challenges or difficulties we experience. Although, in some cultures, we are taught in some cultures to be self-sufficient and strong (that is, not to show our vulnerabilities, emotions), these misconceptions put even more pressure on us and hinder or delay our healing. When, for example, we hit and have a physical wound, care and support are much easier to accept, but when the wounds are invisible, it seems more difficult to understand and realize that we need support and care.

Part of the healing process of inner wounds is also the psychological / psychotherapeutic treatment, just as part of the physical healing is the treatment offered by the doctor. Among the things we can do or keep in mind to protect and maintain our mental health are:

  • Knowing, expressing and regulating emotions
  • Building or maintaining close relationships that support us
  • Development of healthy communication skills
  • Identifying and developing passions
  • Movement and play (including as adults)
  • The connection with nature
  • Physical and sensory food (taste, smell, sight, tactile sense – through food, physical condition, art, travel, etc.)

My intention in this article was to guide you in shedding more light on some issues that sometimes go unsaid or hidden and that make us lonely. But talking about them, normalizing them (yes, they are normal, we all go through various periods and experiences in our lives), we come to better understand ourselves and others and thus increase our quality of life. In the next article, we will explore in more detail the universe of emotions, which, for many of us, is allien. Every journey begins with one step!

Flavia Cardas, PhD
Flavia Cardas, PhD
As an open-minded and empathic psychologist and psychotherapist, curious and containing, I currently run my private practice in Copenhagen, working with English and Romanian speaking clients - both individuals and couples. My approach is humanistic and experiential. I encourage a transparent communication with my clients regarding what works or doesn't work in the therapeutic process for them. I do believe that every person has at least one healthy part, untouched by trauma or difficulties and I professionally support individuals and couples in their process in a non-pathologizing manner. I approach every client in a personalized way, with care and deep respect to their uniqueness, using therapeutic methods from EFT (emotionally focused therapy), EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) and dance/movement therapy.

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