If the average person comes down with a cold, sprains a knee, or suffers a heart attack, there’s no hesitation about seeking treatment. And the person lets friends and co-workers know about the problem. Most people are allowed time off for physical illness or surgery.

Mental health is another matter, however. Many people deny troublesome feelings, hesitate to tell others what’s bothering them, and believe only crazy people need professional help. And the idea of giving workers time off for a “mental health day” (in place of a sick day) is not widely accepted.

Yet mental health problems deserve as much attention as physical disease or injury. Research has discovered a link between good mental health and a strong immune system. A long-term study conducted at Western Electric Corporation showed that depressed middle-aged men were twice as likely to die of cancer than happier co-workers. Another study showed that 60 percent of widows surveyed experienced a major health problem within one year of their husbands’ deaths. Also, University of Michigan researchers found that lonely, socially isolated adults run the same risk of dying before their time as do cigarette smokers.

Evidently, a healthy mental outlook is essential to a healthy body. And the tips in this chapter can help heal mental hurts like anger, jealousy, guilt, depression, and phobias, among others. You’ll discover how elements of your environment-like music, weather, and pets-can help you feel better. You’ll also find out how to locate a trustworthy therapist, should you need professional counseling.

Chapter 7
  1. Your Emotions and Your Health