Mental Health: What Do You Need?

13 Jan ‘21
4 min
Gijs Coppens

Physical health never concerns just one aspect of your body. Next to well-functioning organs, you also need a good physical condition, enough sleep and a healthy diet. The exact same logic applies to your mental well-being. Open up psychologist Myrthe explains which 8 themes play an essential role in your mental health – and how to get started with these themes.


When are you actually mentally healthy?

“That question is quite difficult to explain with a one-sentence answer. I would say you are mentally healthy when you feel able to live the life you find relevant and meaningful, and when you can connect with the people who are important to you. In addition, mental well-being is also about resilience: being able to deal with difficult situations and feelings.


By the way, the impact of mental health is huge – we often think of our body when we think about being in shape. But when your head is in shape, you will feel more comfortable in your own body and you can put things into perspective and deal with them more easily. OpenUp has been around for a year now, and last month we started mapping out which themes often come up with clients. This way we can align our offer even more with the questions that people have nowadays. ”


These 8 themes are essential

1. Stress and a healthy balance

Stress isn’t necessarily a bad or unhealthy thing – it sometimes even helps you function better. Do you experience stress for a longer period and is there too little time for recovery? In that case it could be harmful. Fortunately, you can train how to better handle and release stress.


2. Meaningful relationships

Relationships with other people are essential for your mental health – we simply have a strong, intrinsic need to connect with friends, family and colleagues. But what is the definition of a meaningful relationship for you? And how do you start such a meaningful relationship with someone?


3. Being confident

Having confidence in yourself and your strengths – that sounds great, but it is not always as straightforward. Learning to look at yourself more gentle can help. Just like asking yourself the following question regularly: am I not setting too high standards for myself?


4. Balance your moods

Gloom or irritability: these are very normal reactions when you are worrying or when something drastic happens. Sometimes these moods can last longer, and therefore get in your way. What helps to monitor and accept these feelings such that you are less bothered by them?


5. Less fear and worry

Fear is an emotion that helps you respond appropriately to danger. And worrying a little bit makes you think carefully about future scenarios. However, if fear and worry take over, it can lead to you not being able to enjoy yourself properly. With cognitive training you can challenge anxious and wispy thoughts and you can develop alternative thoughts that will help you instead of hinder you.


6. Sleep better

A few bad nights may be unpleasant, but aren’t bad for your health. Structurally poor sleep can have a significant impact on your mental health. Poor sleep has many causes and therefore many opportunities for improvement – from practical sleep hygiene to tackling stress.


7. A healthy lifestyle

A famous saying – and for good reason – is the following: a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Nutritious food and sufficient exercise are essential for this. How do you integrate a healthy lifestyle such that you have a lasting advantage of it?


8. Finding a life purpose and happiness

No one can tell you how to live a meaningful life – only you can decide what is valuable to you, what suits you best and when you are happy. How do you live in line with your own values? And how do you ensure that there are not too many distractions to achieve your goals?


The 8 themes described are important for mental well-being. But do they all need to be in optimal shape for an optimal mental health?

“No, not all themes always play an equally important role for all people. A healthy lifestyle and adequate sleep are important for everyone to get through daily life well. In addition, you can imagine that in specific stages of your life or at important events, certain themes require more or less attention. For example, when you start a new job, many people need to keep a closer eye on their stress level. Or the loss of a loved one can be an event that affects your mood and makes relationships with those around you even more important.


What we focus on when we look at mental health is therefore not whether someone scores ‘well’ on all the themes mentioned above, but whether there is enough balance over a certain period. And in mental health, that balance is determined by factors that give you energy (which determine your carrying capacity) and factors that take energy from you (your burden).


Is your burden high due to a busy job and small children, but is there sufficient carrying capacity thanks to a pleasant social life, a healthy lifestyle and a stable and secure relationship? Then your mental health will be less likely to be compromised. Maintaining that balance or restoring it requires good self-care. ”


Get started with your mental toughness

Scoring a 10 on all themes is neither possible nor necessary for more mental resilience. Do you want to get started with your mental health? You can get started with the following 4 tips.


1. Start small

Set yourself an accessible goal, and agree with yourself where you want to be in mid-February.


2. Forget all-or-nothing thinking

Allow yourself the space to fail or not to stick to an appointment every now and then. Learning often requires small steps.


3. Recognize the circumstances

External circumstances (such as corona) can have a significant influence on the themes described. Recognize why you are momentarily unbalanced – and realize that the circumstances can also change again.


4. Keep yourself sharp

We try to keep ourselves sharp at OpenUp too – both personally and professionally. We do so by taking a good look at our personal values ​​at the start of 2021 and by thinking about how we want to live up to those values and implement them ​​this year.