What is Considered Being “Mentally Healthy”?

What is Considered Being “Mentally Healthy”?

What is mental health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social health and well-being. It is important at every age. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is “… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities 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.” It is important to note that the WHO stresses that mental health “is not just the absence of a mental disorder.”

Why is it important?

Mental Health is important because it affects us every day, in almost everything we do. It impacts how we function, interact with others, and how we feel about ourselves and our lives.  Furthermore, it can have a profound impact on our bodies and physical health as well.

What can be done to improve mental health?

For children and adults, learning how to identify and understand our emotions is a vital component in improving mental health. Emotions are not bad – however, we need to better teach people to identify and understand their emotions and most importantly, what to do with them.  We also must teach and develop personal coping skills so that one can process and use their emotions in a healthy and productive manner.

There are several key things we can all do to improve and maintain our mental health which includes keeping a regular schedule, especially ensuring adequate sleep. Getting regular exercise (even low intensity like walking counts) every day. Try to reduce the amount of time you sit for, as they say, “sitting is the new smoking”! Try and eat a healthy well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Connecting with others and helping others can also improve our mental health. Lastly, don’t be afraid to get professional help if you need it!

How someone can get help if they need it?

It doesn’t always feel like it, but there is help everywhere.  A few national resources that are available to anyone are the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255), Textline (741741), and online chat. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI.org) is a great resource not just for those who are struggling with their mental health, but also for their families.  For the LGBTQ+ population, Trevor Project has a hotline (1-866-488-7386), Textline (678678), online chat and multiple other online resources too.

Individuals should also contact their healthcare provider to learn more about the resources that they offer.  At Kaiser Permanente, our mental health resources include a wide range of services for all ages from medication management, individual therapy, group therapy, wellness phone coaching and in-person classes through our Center for Healthy Living as well as numerous online services. 

There are also people around you that are there to help, whether it’s a teacher, a coach, a religious leader or spiritual counselor, a supervisor at work or an Employee Assistance Program.

Kaiser Permanente also has a great website called FindYourWords.org which provides resources and help for those wanting to help someone else or those looking for help themselves. 

Mental Health Tip!

One of my favorite exercises to recommend to patients is gratitude. Thinking of three things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed has been shown to significantly improve your mood. It doesn’t have to be anything outrageous, you can be grateful for having a bed to sleep in, or for your bad day being over, or for the amazing thing that happened to you that day. But, remember just three! No more, no less, even if every night it’s the same three and kids can do it too. Try it for a week, see how you feel!

Ashley Zucker

MD, Chief of Psychiatry , Kaiser Permanente, San Bernardino

Responses contributed by Ashley Zucker, MD, Chief of Psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente in San Bernardino.


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Instructor Spotlight | Working Out is Truly the Best Medicine

Instructor Spotlight | Working Out is Truly the Best Medicine

“Working out is truly the best medicine! There is not a pill out there that can make you feel as good as you do with regular workout sessions. So just do it!  You will never regret working out. Classes make it fun and allow you to meet new people. We all feed off of one another in the class so bring your energy and join me!”

Karla K.

Group Fitness Instructor, LA Fitness

I currently teach 10 classes a week for LA Fitness, in following formats: Sculpt, Bodyworks Plus Abs, Cycle, Aqua Fit, and Senior Fitness. I love to teach a variety of formats because you get to meet a variety of people this way and interact with members of every age and fitness level. My current fitness goal is to feel good, and I do!

I started teaching for LA Fitness about 10 years ago, around the time that LA Fitness had opened in Michigan. LA Fitness was looking for instructors, so I began my AFAA group certification and was hired right after. Teaching has helped hold me accountable for my workouts. I look forward to going to work. It really is the best job in the world. To have 30+ members waiting for you and looking forward to “your” class is a great feeling. I often tell the members who are thanking me for motivating them that they also motivate me to be a better instructor for them!! So, I always thank them right back!

I have always worked out from a young age in my living room where I would do step aerobics from the TV. I danced at a studio for 6 years and did Poms [high school dance team] in high school. When I graduated high school I joined Vic Tanny, which then became Bally Total Fitness. I always took the classes when I could, with step being my favorite class.

Eventually, I got into running. I would run 20 to 30 miles a week before work or school or in the afternoon whenever I could fit it in. I earned my BA in psychology from Oakland University. I got married had two children and used my treadmill a lot. I came back to the gym when my treadmill broke. I joined a different gym and just ran a lot! Then, I started taking classes at Bally’s again, and shortly after my local Bally’s location was acquired by LA Fitness is when I went and became group certified with AFAA and began teaching at LA Fitness.

Teaching has brought my fitness to a new level of amazing! I have never had so much fun or felt so good! LA Fitness brings training workshops to our state at least once a year to train us in different formats, and they are always great and professional.

As for my diet, I am mostly vegetarian. I chose to stop eating meat when I was 19 years old. Although my decision to become vegetarian wasn’t primarily for health reasons, I do believe it helps me to stay at a good weight and feel great and healthy.

Some slight adjustments may have been made for clarity and/or grammatical purposes. 


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The Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

The Benefits of Exercise for Cancer Patients

After finding out they have cancer, people want to know what’s happening to their body. They have questions about what their treatment options are, how likely those are to succeed, and what sort of side-effects they may encounter, to name a few. Many people are curious about exercise, and whether it can play a role in their cancer journey.  

Physical activity and exercise can be a key part of someone’s cancer-control regimen. That’s one of the many answers that can be found in the NCCN Guidelines for Patients®—available for free at NCCN.org/patients—a series of understandable and informative books from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®). That’s the same nonprofit organization responsible for the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) which many doctors rely on for up-to-date, evidence- and expert consensus-based recommendations for high-quality cancer care. 

According to Robert W. Carlson, MD, breast cancer oncologist and CEO of NCCN, “Studies have shown that staying physically active is one of the best ways for people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer to take special care of themselves before, during, and after treatment. However, it’s important that patients talk with their doctor or physical therapist about the type of exercise they’re considering, so they can make sure it will be safe for them. Physical activity and exercise recommendations should be tailored to individual abilities and preferences.” 

Uterine cancer survivor and advocate Colleen Johnson, PhD, knows a thing or two about individual abilities, and how to push herself beyond all limitations. When Colleen was first diagnosed with cancer at age 57, she was a self-described couch potato with an unhealthy BMI. Her first course of treatment involved major surgery, so she needed a few months of recovery before ultimately taking up running—a hobby that helped her to lose weight, get rid of diabetes, and take back control over her body. Colleen completed her first full marathon just 17 months after surgery. After that, she set her sights on ultra-marathons, and now runs at least one 100-miler every year to remain healthy while also raising awareness for uterine cancer.  

“You have to find hope, somewhere,” Colleen said. “I found it in exercise and diet. In the beginning, I thought it was probably false hope, but I didn’t have anything to lose by trying it. I was amazed when it turned out to be true—exercise and weight loss really did help fight my cancer.” 

Colleen is now featured on the cover of the NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Uterine Cancer, which can be read and downloaded for free at NCCN.org/patients. Her advocacy around this rarely discussed but increasingly common type of cancer—which is also known as endometrial cancer—inspired NCCN to include it in the growing library of patient guidelines, which also include Breast, Colon, Lung, Prostate, Stomach, and other cancer types accounting for approximately 88% of all cancer incidences in the United States. 

Of course, running ultra-marathons isn’t for everyone. Swimming, jogging, biking, and even walking can get your heart rate pumping. Work with your doctor to customize your exercise routine to whatever fits best for your life. Some answers can only come from within, but free, reliable, and empowering information about cancer care is available—if you know where to look 


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Instructor Spotlight | Transforming Lives Through Yoga

Instructor Spotlight | Transforming Lives Through Yoga

“Going to the gym and working out has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. For that reason, I have been enjoying a good and healthy lifestyle so far.”

Shaun G.

Group Fitness Instructor, LA Fitness

I was working at Bally’s Total Fitness for a number of years in their martial arts program (TMA). I was a Taekwondo instructor (Second Degree Black Belt). Unfortunately, Bally’s Total Fitness filed for bankruptcy and they closed the TMA program. Within a few months, I decided to become a member of LA Fitness and shortly after, I started working as an aerobics instructor.

Going to the gym and working out has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. For that reason, I have been enjoying a good and healthy lifestyle so far. It takes a lot of discipline and hard work. It becomes a habit and addiction that you cannot live without. By teaching at LA Fitness, I have met a lot of people with the same pattern and routine.

In today’s modern world, we are blessed with things that make our lives easier, better, and faster. At the same time, all of these comforts have their side effects too. In today’s world, there are many things that work for us and many things that work against us. Having a modern gym such as LA Fitness with state-of-the-art facilities is a blessing that makes our life better.

We are fortunate to live in the Dallas, Fort Worth area where there are plenty of LA Fitness clubs within few miles of each other. LA Fitness offers a number of different classes at different locations and times.

Most of the members that are attending these classes become regular members. They see the benefit of these Group Fitness classes. Most of them enjoy exercising with others. They love the motivation and inspiration these classes offer. As an instructor, helping people get in shape and stay in shape without dropping out is fulfilling. Not all people are the same, and they have different needs.

As I mentioned before, it takes a lot of discipline and hard work to reach a fitness goal. However, helping people to reach their fitness goals is a great feeling and has its own reward. In a way, by helping other people you are helping yourself. These Group Fitness classes at LA Fitness give members a chance to surround themselves with people that have the same goals. They get a chance to have a happy and joyful lifestyle. Some of them become friends, socialize for life, and give each other support, advice, and motivation.

My goal is to help as many people as I can through Yoga. Yoga is not just wonderful way to work out but also a path to self-discovery. You can lose weight and tone up your body while transforming your life at the same time. This ancient practice or discipline is one of the best things you can do for mind, body, and spirit.

Classes Taught:

I have been working at LA Fitness for almost 5 years. I teach Yoga, Boot Camp, Body Works, Cycling, Mat Pilates and Power Circuit, but my main passion is Yoga. I teach eight Yoga classes a week in four LA Fitness locations (Rowlett, Sachse, Richardson, and Garland in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.)


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6 Fringe Health Topics You Should Know

6 Fringe Health Topics You Should Know

Staying healthy involves much more than just being fit and eating certain supplements or foods. One area that is often ignored is your mouth. If you neglect good oral care it can ruin your health in many ways – and may actually shorten your life. 

1. Your Mouth Affects Your Overall Health 

Recently, researchers have discovered that the health of your mouth can affect the health of your entire body. This is especially true if you have the more serious form of gum disease – periodontitis. Most people have no idea that they have it or how serious it can become – and one reason is that it is nearly painless until it reaches the advanced stages. About half of the adults in America over 30 have the disease and it continues to be the major cause of tooth loss in adults. 

Periodontitis is caused by some of the natural bacteria in your mouth. It gets into your gums through poor care of your teeth and starts an immune reaction. Once it is in your gums, it also gets access to your bloodstream. Not only will it destroy your gums, ligaments that support your teeth, and your jawbone, but the reaction from your immune system will produce buildups in your bloodstream and organs. 

Those buildups can lead to many serious diseases and other health problems. They include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks, several types of cancer, dementia, ED, Parkinson’s, and many more.  

2. Sugary Drinks Are Sure to Produce Cavities 

One of the worst things you can do for your teeth and oral health is to sip on sugary drinks for hours. Many people love to sip on specialty coffees, teas, energy drinks, or fruit juices, thinking it is healthy.  

Unfortunately, the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease feed on sugar. They also produce the acid that causes the cavities and gum disease for the next 20 minutes after each sip. It is better to drink sugary drinks only with a meal and rinse your mouth with water afterward.  

3. Acidic Drinks Can Damage Your Teeth 

While most people think fruit juice or flavored water is healthy, it can damage the enamel on your teeth. Fruit juice, especially citrus fruit juice, is highly acidic and it also has about as much sugar in it as soda. It will damage the enamel on your teeth, leading to sensitive teeth and cavities.  

4. Vitamin D Strengthens Your Teeth 

Besides the calcium that your teeth need for strength, your teeth also need a good dose of vitamin D. This sunshine vitamin enables your bones and teeth to absorb calcium for ongoing strength. Without it, the acid in your mouth and food will continue to leach the calcium out and make them brittle.  

5. Don’t Brush After Eating 

Researchers discovered that brushing after eating can reduce the enamel on your teeth. This is because acidic foods and drinks actually soften the enamel and a toothbrush can remove tiny bits of it. Brushing right away will also push the acid into the enamel, causing even more damage in the lower layers. You can rinse your mouth out with water and then brush about 30 minutes later.  

6. Stay Hydrated 

While most people who exercise regularly know the importance of staying hydrated, here is one more reason – and it affects your dental health. A dry mouth promotes cavities and gum disease. Normally, your saliva will help to wash away the harmful bacteria and acid off your teeth. A dry mouth lets it multiply more and produce more acid than normal. You can increase your saliva by chewing sugarless gum and drinking more water.  

You can keep your teeth and smile longer by eating healthy, brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, and making regular dentist appointments. 

This article was written in collaboration with Global Family Dental

Photography provided by John Davydov of Global Family Dental. 


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