Tips for Prioritizing Mental Health
It’s important to cultivate our mental well-being and take steps to ensure we make ourselves a priority. Prioritizing mental health and emotional wellness can include small, internal practices like training yourself to take deep breaths when stressed, to beginning external commitments such as seeking therapy or joining a support group. The key is to find things that make you feel better both emotionally and physically, and make them a part of your daily routine.
Here are suggestions for behaviors that commonly positively affect mental health and wellness. Try them and see if any are right for you!
People often struggle with the idea of saying no to an invitation or request for help because they don’t want to disappoint a friend or hurt anyone’s feelings. If you know it’s very important to someone, or an emergency, then it’s one thing to show up, but often there are times when we say yes to casual invitations even when we don’t want to do them. When the very idea of the event or task makes you feel tired or stressed, say no. It can be hard at first, but if you are constantly doing things to please others at the expense of your own peace, it takes a mental toll that can lead to exhaustion and anxiety.
Podcasts, books, movies, music, tv shows — we are lucky to live in a time with endless options for finding entertainment. Sifting through all the options can be overwhelming, so ask friends for recommendations or do an internet search until you find outlets that make you feel good. This doesn’t mean that the content needs to be lighthearted; maybe you love hearing stories about unsolved crimes, or learning about medical mysteries. Find whatever kind of content helps you unwind and feel calm, and enjoy!
The satisfaction of starting and completing a project always feels good. What are you into? Thanks to the internet, you can learn how to do almost anything, so find something that interests you and fits in your budget and lifestyle and go for it! The happy distraction will do your mind good.
Spending time with family and friends is always good for the head and the heart. Live far from your people? Connect with them over video conference software to see their faces and catch up. Reach out to someone special and ask them for a time and date to talk, and send out a calendar invite. This may sound business-like, but sometimes syncing calendars is the only way to get busy people together!
A meditation practice is excellent for combating stress and anxiety. We’ve raved about the benefits of meditation before: for more information on getting started, see this article on types and benefits of meditation.
Exercise naturally raises the levels of serotonin in the brain, which not only helps boost your mood in real-time, but can also help improve your sleep cycle, and being well-rested has a lot of benefits, including more energy and better brain function. Find a little time each day for movement — even a slow walk around your apartment is better than nothing!
Keep a Journal
Prioritizing your mental health involves understanding your feelings and emotional responses. Getting our feelings out in a positive way is so helpful to mental and emotional well-being. Try writing down any negative feelings you had that day, and you may be surprised how good it feels to just get them out of your head. Balance that out by writing down at least one thing from the day that made you feel grateful, and you may go to bed feeling lighter and less stressed. Here are tips for getting started with journaling.
Try any or all of the above and set yourself up with positive habits for ensuring your mental wellness throughout the year.