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Carrie Fisher, the Inspiring Mental Health Advocate, Dead at 60

Carrie Fisher’s death at age 60 shocked the world that knew her as Star Wars’ Princess Leia. But how many were aware that she was a kind of real-life “princess” in her leadership role as a mental health advocate? As The Washington Post noted, Fisher not only openly battled her own mental illness, but bravely fought for others who struggle with mental health issues.

Mental health too often is a taboo subject, especially — as Fisher so aptly noted — when there is a break down in our emotional and mental well-being. But that needn’t be: It not only is OK to talk about mental health, but a necessity. Statistics show that most Americans have two positive experiences for every negative one — but to flourish you need a 3-to-1 ratio.

To show how these positive experiences can influence your physical health, it’s also been shown that in those age 60 or over, those feelings of happiness and enjoyment are associated with improved mobility and a lower risk of developing a disability, as well linked with a lower risk of heart disease.

Since flourishing mentally is described as encompassing both feeling good and doing good, it’s important to know there are things you can do, right now, to help your mental health improve and flourish. Begin by making a “gratitude journal” of all the good things in your life for which you’re thankful, and focus on them.

Work on letting go of grudges. Incorporate daily exercise into your health plan — yoga coupled with meditation is a good start, and try to look on the bright side things by making short-term goals that give you purpose and help you feel better about yourself. And if you need help, as Fisher advocated, seek it out.
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