5 Factors that Influence Your Mental Well Being

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli

There are many different perceptions that exist surrounding mental health. Some people may only think those with a drastic diagnosis experience challenges. While many people may never experience a clinical diagnosis, mental well being impacts everyone. At some point in everyone’s life they go through a tough time in regards to mental health. What that looks like is different for each person.

While you may experience rough seasons mentally, there are also things and factors that impact you positively. When you feel your mental well being slipping, there are things you can do to feel better. Depending on your situation, some might be small adjustments. Other times, more intensive options are needed. Keep reading to learn more about factors that influence your mental well being.

1. Literal Darkness

Different times of the year can have a huge impact on how you feel. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) tends to happen when there’s less sun time. For much of the United States, this is common during the winter when it’s cold and dark earlier than the summer months. Depending where you live and your sensitivity to SAD, this could be very challenging. If you live in Alaska where you experience longer periods of darkness, for example, this could be tough.

Some who experience this mood disorder throughout the year might feel crippling bouts of depression. Using special lights and getting a lot of sunshine is helpful. Certain medications and even talk therapies can help too. If you already experience depression, the season change can make things worse. If you’re having an especially hard time, you could try rehab for mental health as well. There’s no shame in seeking professional treatment.

2. Past Trauma

It is said often that the body has a way of keeping score. If you experienced abuse of trauma in your childhood, you likely won’t be able to get through it until you address it. The same goes for not giving yourself the space to process grief and death. Pushing painful emotions down and shouldering through can seem like a fix in the short term. However, it can wreak havoc on your body and mental health.

Reaching out to loved ones can help. For more privacy, or if it’s more than what friends can help with, connect with a mental health provider. Talk therapy and counseling can help you heal and learn ways to navigate life. You can work with your therapist to find tools to help when the past pulls you down.

3. Financial Stress

Financial insecurity is downright scary at times. Not knowing how or if you can pay your bills for the month is stressful! That added anxiety can be all consuming. The stress negatively impacts your body down to the cellular level. It can impact how you do your work and live your life, especially if you deal with the fear of losing everything.

If you have a family to support, it can add to your burden. It’s hard enough doing without yourself, but you don’t want to see your children suffer. Poverty and debt can be hard to circumnavigate. Working with a financial counselor or working to pay down debt is helpful. There are many free resources you can find to help at the library or even at your local bank. Look for resources about budgeting and financial literacy.

4. Loneliness

Humans need love and connection. Not having community can really do a number on your mental health. When things go wrong or when you have things to celebrate, do you have someone to share it with? While the world today is more connected than ever through apps and screens, that is a superficial connection. Online spaces are meant to supplement, not replace, human interaction.

If you’re feeling lonely or like you don’t have people, make it a goal to find community. It will be awkward at first, but don’t wait for others to reach out to you. Go first. Try to join a group for something you like. Maybe that’s a local knitting group or a sports team. If you love to read, frequent bookstores and the libraries to bump into like minded people. You could also join a volunteer group or gym.

5. Physical Health

The body is an interconnected machine. What you do to one system impacts many others. If you eat garbage with no real nutritional components, you’re going to feel like garbage. If you don’t get out and incorporate movement, you’re physically not going to feel well. Lack of a nutritional diet and lack of exercise can cause your mental well being to take a serious hit.

It can put you in a vicious cycle too. You don’t eat well or workout out so your mental health takes a toll. Then your mental health isn’t doing well and you don’t feel like going for a walk or eating vegetables. Work on breaking the cycle and starting with small, consistent routines. When cooking a huge nutrient-dense meal feels too hard, work on drinking water and getting active.

There are many factors that influence your mental health. Some may be out of your control and require professional interventions. But there are many things you can do to feel better. Take control of your life and incorporate small changes with huge impacts.

Reflect on where you may be struggling most. Take the time to then work in that area. You have the power to continue negative behaviors that make you feel worse. You also have the power to make small changes that can positively change the course of your life.

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