In Stylist’s new digital series Picture of Health, we explore what women’s health is like today: redefining mental health and fitness to explore issues related to the inclusiveness of race and disability. For research, first-person essays and features, check here daily.

When you think of someone with “good mental health,” what do you represent? At first glance, you might imagine someone with a big smile on their face who is able to navigate the world fairly easily.

The reality, however, is much more complicated. Although the idea of ​​good mental health is mixed with happiness, the two are not one and the same.

Someone with good mental health may be happier than someone who is struggling, but that’s just part of the puzzle. Like good physical health or fitness, good mental health is more than just a lack of problems; it is the presence of certain knowledge and characteristics that often lead to work (and routine maintenance).

However, this does not mean that there is only one definition of good mental health. Everyone’s relationship to their mental health and well-being is different, which means that everyone’s version of good mental health also changes.

So in 2021 to look at what “good mental health” really means, we asked nine women to share what it means. From self-awareness to accepting negative emotions, here’s what they said.

Regular self-care

“For me, good mental health is when I’m able to prioritize myself, when I don’t have to wait until I’m on the edge to start taking care of myself. It adds to your usual self-care: it fills your emotional glass. ”

Luana, 34

Feeling in control

“As a person with OCD, I know that I am in a good place with my mental health to take care of myself and deal with the ordinary stresses of life, without letting myself reach a stage where I feel overwhelmed.

“Sometimes, even making myself a meal or cleaning my space can feel like a horrible job and something I can’t cope with, but when I feel confident, adaptable and hopeful, I know my mental health is going in the right direction. However, I always make sure to maintain self-pity and I recognize that recovery is not linear. ”

Nina, 21

A woman having dinner
“Sometimes, even making myself a meal or cleaning my space can feel like a horrible job and something I can’t cope with, but when I feel confident, adaptable and hopeful, I know my mental health is going in the right direction. ”

Having the right support

“For me, good mental health is when I make sure I provide enough support in my life. I’m inherently nervous and, although I’ve learned to manage better through a lot of therapy and effort, it will probably never completely disappear. So I’ve learned that I need certain things. such as enough time to rest from work, enough time to connect with other humans, and enough time to not be a parent.

“I need enough sleep and enough type of food and enough exercise… All of this is hard to achieve and often doesn’t happen! But if I get to get enough of the things I need to stay steady, my mental health isn’t going to sink and go down like it did in the past. ”

Enforcement of boundaries

“Prioritizing myself and protecting my personal boundaries are non-negotiable, I know I need them to maintain good mental health. For me this is a time to put self-care on my agenda, practice meditation and yoga regularly and say ‘no’ to knowing it’s okay to protect my energy.”

Laura, 38

Taking medication

“As a person taking antidepressants, good mental health for me means taking my medication, and not being ashamed. I felt very frustrated and angry at having to take something to help my mental health, but I was able to rethink my approach and now I see it as another way to take care of myself. I know I’m in the right place when I can do it with confidence. ”

Lauren, 24

Be aware of real time

“For me, good mental health means being aware of my energy, emotional well-being and my mindset in real and real time. Not only that, I am willing to take action and create change if I notice a downward spiral.

“Abuse, fracture, burns and depression are part of my past. As I have spent years learning, training and developing tools to improve my vision, I am now alert and doing everything I can to keep my mental health in a positive place.”

Taz, 47

A woman looking out the window on a sunny day
“For me, good mental health means being aware of my energy, my emotional well-being and my real-time and real-time awareness of my thinking.”

Accept your emotions

“For me, good mental health means accepting my emotions as they are and learning from them. Learning to understand my emotions through dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has been a change: I’ve gained a new perspective on my emotions, and I’ve learned that it’s okay to accept them as they are. There can often be many reasons for a particular emotion to come together and it’s important to take a step back, observe what’s going on, and then be able to respond. ”

Elinor, 29

Celebrating small victories

“For me, good mental health means being able to celebrate small victories every day. Did you get out of bed despite the pain? Amazing! Did you get a shower despite being tired? Well done! Have you managed to get a little ahead of yourself in this project you’re working on, even though there’s been a tremendous amount of sleep this week? You are doing very well!

“With a physical disability, life can be difficult and can affect your mental health, so being proud of the little things I can do works wonders whether or not I’m struggling.”

Selina, 29

Being able to juggle everything

“For me, good mental health means being able to manage everything on my to-do list, both at work and in my personal life. I know when things are going too well I feel too stressed to try to deal with the problem. ”

Rianne, 26

In Stylist’s new digital series Picture of Health, we explore what women’s health is like today: redefining mental health and fitness to explore issues related to the inclusiveness of race and disability. For research, first-person essays and features, check here daily.

Images: Ella Byworth