Stabilizing your mental health can mean a variety of different things for every individual you may encounter, but what everyone can agree upon is that the ultimate goal of stabilizing your mental health is to manifest a better, more fulfilling, and overall-healthier quality of life… And who doesn’t want that?!
Stabilizing your mental health can also, unfortunately, be difficult if circumstances such as genetics, brain chemicals, or unfortunate and difficult events are present in an individual’s brain or life.
Whether societies want to face it or not, the overall happiness and sense of well-being of the average person is incredibly more dependent on their emotional health and mental stability than on any other factor- even money or material possession! So of course, one would eventually come to the conclusion that that stabilizing your mental health should come before anything else and that it has a direct correlation with someone’s daily sense of happiness. For, without a sound mind, you really won’t be able to participate in life to your fullest capability.
As Clark Layard importantly states in his book Thrive: The Power of Psychological Therapy, “Mental pain is as real as physical pain. It is experienced in the same areas of the brain as physical pain and is often more disabling. Yet these two types of pain are not treated equally. While nearly everyone who is physically ill gets treatment, two in three of those who are mentally ill do not. If your bone is broken you are treated automatically, but if your spirit is broken you are not.” – Layard, R., Clark, DM. (2015) Thrive: The Power of Psychological Therapy. Penguin Books.
But what exactly does it mean to be “mentally stable”? And possibly more interestingly, what is and what causes “mental instability”? It seems to be that when people are more mentally stable, their social lives thrive. They feel a general and more-frequent sense of well-being. Some would even consider mental stability synonymous to being without – or having an absence of – a mental illness.
Adversely, when someone is deemed “mentally unstable” by society it, in general, means that their moods, feelings, and/or actions are consistently unpredictable (hello, oxymoron!). It’s rightfully assumed that these individuals are not as happy overall because they are less able to organize, collect, or trust their own thoughts, actions, and feelings – the very symptoms of the label of being mentally unstable. This is (very) often due to some type of mental illness, such as an addiction, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and much more. (So, yes, mental stability is linked with the absence of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders, amongst many more human psychological maladies!)
Sometimes, psychological unevenness can also be caused by devastating or challenging circumstances that are brought upon an individual (which, of course, is a part of every person’s life). Being mentally stable and becoming mentally stable if one is feeling imbalanced can mean different, more specific things for everyone.
What Signs Are Linked With Being Mentally Stable?
Generally, people who are considered mentally stable and emotionally healthy have a number of positive traits in common.
Signs that someone is mentally and emotionally stable:
- A sense of being in control of their personal thoughts and actions
- A sense of (general) well-being
- Friends and family are generally confident in the individual’s ability to care for themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually
- They are able to stay consistent and present in their work, family, and social lives
- They have hobbies that they enjoy and that fulfill them
- They have a loving, nurturing, and supportive relationships in their lives
- They are free from being consumed or controlled by a substance or a behavioral addiction
- They contain a fairly exceptional set of coping skills in which assist them in dealing with troubling emotions or troubling situations that may arise in their life
Each mental illness that can cause someone to be mentally unstable has its own distinct and specific symptoms. However, some signs that someone is not mentally stable include:
- Emotionally turbulent days filled with perhaps tumultuous ups and downs
- Reliance on addictive substances
- Exhibitions of addiction or eating-disordered behaviors
- Excessive worrying
- Problems concentrating
- Appearing easily angered or irritable
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Legal troubles
At the end of the day, saying that someone is mentally unstable is usually just the same as saying someone is struggling. This term shouldn’t be used with a negative connotation because it’s important that we treat mental, emotional, and spiritual illnesses with the same conviction and determination that we treat physical sickness in this country, just as Clark Layard states in the excerpt above. With a stable mind, a stable and more fulfilled life will undoubtedly follow.
So, How Do Happiness And Mental Stability Relate In Social Terms?
Every person we meet every encounter we have in our relationships is simply a reflection of ourselves and our emotional, mental, and spiritual place. When you are mentally stable and in control of your thoughts and actions, able to trust yourself, and have a generally high sense of self-competence and self-confidence, you are better able to create, establish, and maintain a larger and deeper variety of stable human relationships and connections. You’re able to trust others because you can trust yourself. Your relationships are more stable because your mind is more stable and more set in the grounds of reality (rather than sporadic and perhaps imbalanced brain chemicals that cause a warped perception and view of the world). We are social creatures. If something like Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, or Addiction is getting in the way of our ability to healthily relate to other people, there can be grave consequences on the state of our contentment in life.
As Brene Brown, author of The Gifts of Imperfection, states in an article for fastcompany.com
“As members of a social species, we derive strength not from our rugged individualism but from our collective ability to plan, communicate, and work together. Our neural, hormonal, and genetic makeup support interdependence over independence.”
When we are suffering with a mental illness (and our brain chemicals are abnormal or imbalanced) or when we are going through a period of time that is overwhelming us, we are sometimes gravely unable to relate to others, communicate well with others, and stay present in our relationships. It has been proven over and over again that humans are social creatures- more powerful and efficient in numbers and consistently hungry for the endorphins released when we receive physical or emotional affection from another person.
If mental instability is often linked to our brain chemicals going “haywire” or not firing correctly in general, this can cause an inability to be present in our lives and relationships and can largely alter our perception on our realities (usually, not for the better). It is evident that our struggle with a psychological rollercoaster will affect our overall happiness.
A Word On Becoming More Mentally Stable
It is important that when you or someone you know is struggling with feeling mentally unstable due to mental illness or a period of severe trouble, the troubled individual seeks professional help. With a stable mind comes a healthy and balanced mind, more fulfilling relationships, the ability to be present in activities, a realistic perspective, better self-efficacy and self esteem, and therefore a healthier and more balanced life.
Perhaps behavioral therapy will work for balancing out some individuals in particular situations, while for others medication may be the key to achieving more strength and security in their mental processes. For many, however, it is a combination of methods of both scientific and environmental changes that must be made in order for someone to reach their optimal state of thinking, feeling, acting, and being.