What Is Behavioral Health?
There are many ways to look at health and well-being and different lenses through which to examine human thriving.
Behavioral health is the lens that focuses on how humans behave, and how that behavior reflects and relates to our life force being supported or inhibited. How do our choices, habits, and actions in the world support or thwart our joy, health, and vitality? Do our actions lead to wellness or harm?
Behavior communicates a lot about what’s going on inside of us. Imbalanced behaviors reflect an inner imbalance. Balanced behavior says we’re balanced on the inside too.
Behavioral health overlaps with mental health and physical health, but is distinguished by its specific emphasis on action in the world. Using an outside-in approach, behavioral health works to better our insides by first balancing the outsides.
By embracing and looking into what “healthy behavior” means for us, we can experience many benefits that come from being in a greater state of balance, peace, and ease.
This way the vessel we are stays intact enough to truly sail on the seas of life, without getting shipwrecked by every storm.
How Can Behavioral Health Help Your Mental Health?
Taking an action-first approach to health has a lot of power. By deliberately acting in ways that create health, we sooner or later bring about a state of health.
The phrase “fake it ’til you make it”, used in addiction recovery circles, could be a behavioral health mantra. First, behave and act in accordance with what creates health, and eventually, health will come to your inner world too.
You can’t stay sick and unhappy if you regularly take the actions of a healthy, happy person. Depression withers away when we get up early in the morning to work out. Anxiety will never beat a regular yoga practice. Even the wildest, unruliest mind will fall into a pleasant flow state if we meditate for long enough.
If we eat a healthy, clean diet we find our optimal weight. If we sleep enough at night, we have energy for the day. If we go outside enough, we feel refreshed and connected to nature. If we go once a week to a board game night, eventually we make friends. If we keep going to AA meetings, we get and stay sober.
It’s a powerful law that right action helps us live the life of the person we long to be. Right action builds a house, a structure, that we can live inside. As the old saying goes, we make the beds we lie in.
Behavioral health helps us make good beds.
What Are the Benefits of Behavioral Health?
Behavioral health shines in the treatment of addiction and other compulsive behaviors like eating disorders and self-harm, where self-damaging behavior is the presenting symptom. When negative behavior is repatterned, inner thoughts and feelings are changed as well.
If a person is in a good enough state of health, we will see it in multiple layers of the person’s life. They will have healthy bodies without pain or symptoms, and they will also have relatively balanced minds and emotions, and reasonably functional relationships.
This person who is in a state of holistic overall health will make generally effective decisions, be able to set goals for themselves in areas of life that give them meaning, and behave in ways that support their intentions.
Working on our behavioral health leads to positive and health-promoting behavior out in the world:
-better physical health through exercise, lifestyle and diet
-better relationships through self-awareness, communication, and interpersonal skills
-better life skills, including work, finances, and achievement of goals
By the outside-in effect, behavioral health also affects what it feels like on the inside, too:
-better, more effective thoughts (positive and reality-based at the same time)
-feeling emotions in a more modulated way (able to get the color and depth of life, but not be pulled under by a tidal wave of feeling)
-stronger self-esteem through interpersonal boundaries and positive relating
Try This Exercise to Experience the Outside-in Effect
Smiling is a fun way to try the outside-in effect. Set a timer for a minute, and smile for the whole minute. Start with fake smiling and see where it goes.
What we discover in a good round of smiling is that when we force ourselves to smile for long enough, it eventually turns into a real smile, including the fun positive feeling that normally causes a spontaneous smile.
Pretending can be a doorway to the real. If you like this, try it with a friend too.
Journal to Optimize Your Behavioral Health
Think about your definition of a healthy, happy person. Imagine this person going throughout their day. How do they approach the world, and what actions do they take? What activities do they participate in? What do they steer clear of?
Now think of yourself, and imagine the healthiest, most optimized version of yourself. How does that person (the perfectly healthy you) behave, what decisions does she make? What actions does she take, and what activities does she involve herself in? What does she stay away from?
Think about this: when we behave according to how the healthiest version of us would behave, we will sooner or later become that person more reliably and naturally, here and now in our real lives. What behaviors from your “perfect health self” could you start practicing now?
Villa Kali Ma Provides Behavioral Health
When it comes to addiction and self-destructive behaviors, it’s very important to get actions and choices sorted out first, because such seriously harmful behaviors put our very lives at stake.
Here at Villa Kali Ma, it is our experience that the healing force only has a chance to take root once the momentum of negative behaviors has stopped. It’s necessary to be in a protected environment to have a chance at starting over.
Villa Kali Ma is a behavioral health provider, who treats addictions, mental illness, and trauma in a uniquely holistic and female-positive approach. We combine ancient healing approaches like yoga and Ayurveda with the latest in cutting-edge scientifically developed methods to help women get their lives back into their power.
Our offerings represent the wisdom of the outside-in approach, teaching women habits and behaviors of a good life. We show each other how to live positively – how to act in a way that the goodness inside us can bloom and grow at last.