On the one hand there is mental health and on the other there is mental illness. It is possible to have no mental illness but poor mental health. For instance, one may not have a diagnosis but may be terribly unhappy, drinking excessively and taking drugs to cope with the stresses and strains of life.
On the other hand, it is possible to have a mental illness and be in a state of good mental health. For example, someone with a diagnosis of a mental illness who is able to feel good and function well with the help of friends and family, talking therapies and medications.
And then there is everything in between. At all times we are all on a spectrum. Our vulnerabilities are different at different times. They determine our ability to handle stuff thrown at us. Sometimes it feels like we have ‘too much on our plate’ even if there is very little on it. At other times, our plate might be truly full but we can cope.
I wish I had heard of ‘Happiness hour’ before. It is one hour spent on ourselves, doing something we enjoy doing, if possible everyday – taking a soak in a warm bath, watching TV, going for a walk, doing yoga and meditation, listening to music and so on. It keeps us feeling good and increases our capacity to manage our lives better. I have been consciously grabbing that hour for myself at least three times a week and it does make me feel better and stronger.