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What IS Mental Wellness? ‘Flourishing’, not just ‘Surviving’

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community” (source).

After all, just as health is not just the absence of disease, positive mental health is not just the absence of mental health ‘disorders’.

Realizes his or her potential

Can cope with the normal stresses of life

Can work productively and fruitfully

Is able to make a contribution to his or her community

So many people are struggling with overwhelming stress, poor nutritional habits, altered sleep patterns, a lack of movement, depleting nutritional patterns, low energy & out-of balance eating. In fact, while a significant proportion of the U.S. is struggling with poor mental health or could fall into a diagnostic category for a ‘mental disorder’, the highest majority (54%) fall into a category of ‘Moderate Mental Health’ (source) (think ‘not horrible, but not great, either’).

  Only 17% of individuals are considered to be ‘Flourishing’. 

What does it mean to ‘flourish’? A state of flourishing could be defined as one where we are living ‘within an optimal range of human functioning’-which could even mean living well even in the face of challenging circumstances or health concerns.

When it comes specifically to the work that I do focused on integrative nutrition, I believe that flourishing requires having the necessary knowledge, skill, motivation, perspective & resources to create a clear vision for health, establish habits & step-by-step actions to move toward that vision, and to build resilience to navigate unexpected challenges and to maintain perspective. 

When it comes to a sense of mental wellbeing, I believe that focusing on nutrition and gut health also matters.

What does ‘flourishing’ mean to you? What next steps do you see for yourself to move from ‘so so’ to thriving with your nutritional wellbeing? You can read more about the concept of ‘Flourishing’ here and here

About Sarah Ferreira

Sarah Ferreira,MS,MPH,RD,CDN,CNSC,IFNCP,CHWC is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with complementary certification as an Integrative and Functional Nutrition Certified Practitioner and Certified Health and Wellness Coach. She is the owner of Mindfully Nourished Solutions, where she uses a whole-person, whole-food approach to explore the impact of nutrition on mood and cognition. Her individualized approach integrates an assessment of nutritional, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors into a collaborative nutrition care plan using cutting-edge research designed to facilitate meaningful and restorative changes based around client goals and priorities.

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