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  • Karen E. Osborne

Your Mental Health Fitness

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of giving the keynote talk at the Women’s Mental Health Wellness Conference in Chesapeake, VA. They invited me because, Kara, the protagonist in my novel, “Getting It Right,” suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress. They were interested in hearing my personal story and more about the novel.

I began by asking the 300 participants, “How do you keep yourself mentally and emotionally healthy?”

Their answers and my personal list make a lot of common sense. Here is a sample.

1. Move. I waved my Fitbit. I take between 10,000 and 20,000 steps per day between the gym, walking around the office during every phone call, taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

2. Go outside. A story on the news reported that being outside where you can hear birds, see trees and listen to moving water has a direct impact on your anxiety. Here are additional benefits.

3. Listen to music. Music helps you both physically and mentally. What music genres give you the most joy? ( If you dance while listening, you have the added benefits of moving and if you did it outside… Hmmm. The neighbors may have something to say.

4. Join a community. You know the old expression, “It takes a village…” According to the “Journal of Public Health,” when you are part of a community, you enjoy these benefits:

  • Lower prevalence of mental health issues

  • Lower rates of unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or not exercising

  • Better health in general

5. Be generous. Generosity is a powerful gift to yourself. When you help others, give your time, talent and treasure to the benefit others, you create purpose for your life. Being a blessing to someone else, helps each you feel better, even joyful. (

6. Be grateful. Gratitude goes hand-in-hand with generosity. Every morning I think through all the things in my life for which I am grateful. When you spend time remembering the good things, it is harder to ruminate on the bad.

7. Seek professional help. Sometimes, all the self-help just isn’t enough. Just as you seek a medical doctor when something ails you, so you should see a mental health professional when life overwhelms and you can’t find your way out alone.

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