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8 tips to take charge of your mental health.

Naperville Sun HealthAware column:

8 tips to take charge of mental health
Submitted March 18, 2013

What is the biggest factor affecting happiness? It’s mental health, according to the World Happiness Report commissioned for the 2012 United Nations Conference on Happiness. But even in advanced countries such as the United States, only about 25 percent of mentally ill people get treatment.

“Many people still don’t accept that mental illnesses are as real as any physical ailment, and they can be treated,” says psychiatrist Michael Martin, of the Linden Oaks Medical Group in Plainfield.

“Watch for red flags that mean it’s time to get help: sleeping too much or too little, feeling down much of the time, or persistently doing things that undermine what you want from your life. This includes such behaviors as procrastination, substance abuse, eating disorders, cutting, high risk behaviors or injecting a lot of drama into relationships.”

Many who don’t suffer from mental illness still feel their happiness could be ratcheted up a level or two. Dr. Martin says our attitudes and the choices we make are much more important to our happiness than anything in our genes or environment. He offers the following tips:

Surround yourself with supportive people and work on building those relationships. Don’t isolate yourself or let fear of being alone keep you in any relationships that are abusive.

Structure your life to include activities that are meaningful to you and challenge your abilities. Set realistic goals.

Take care of yourself. Eat balanced meals, get adequate sleep, exercise most days and seek out opportunities to laugh.

Stay sober. Abusing drugs or alcohol can make unhappiness worse. It will knock out free will if it becomes addiction.

Work on building your self-esteem by doing good acts for yourself and others. Volunteerism and random acts of kindness can provide an especially good boost.

Practice gratitude. Make daily mental lists of two or three things you appreciate.

Approach each day with a positive attitude about yourself and give others the benefit of the doubt.

Live in the present. Don’t borrow trouble from yesterday or tomorrow.

For immediate assistance and a free and confidential mental health assessment, call the Linden Oaks 24/7 Help Line at 630-305-5500.

Learn more about Linden Oaks at Edward.


(630) 527-3000

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