Your mental health is one of the most important pieces to your overall well-being. Are you doing enough to protect it daily?
In theory, it's no secret that prioritizing your mental health is essential. In practice- with work, family, school, relationships, etc- actually making your mental health a priority can be difficult to do.
Take a moment to consider the advice given on an airplane: In the event of a catastrophe, place your oxygen mask on your face first before attempting to help someone else with theirs. Thankfully, these flight catastrophes don't occur often. However, the serious advice that is given on airplanes applies to daily life. In order to take care of others and show up as your best self consistently, you have to take care of yourself first. In other words, consider your mental health as something you need to protect every single day so that you can handle stress appropriately and be effective at helping others when they need you.
Considering your mental health as not only a priority but, something that needs to be protected for your livelihood, might make it easier to add it to the top of your daily "to-do list". But how exactly do you go about protecting your mental health? Below are 10 ways that will help you make your mental health a priority and keep it protected daily.
Accept your worth. It can be easy to find the good and worthiness in other people. It can be much harder to find the same in yourself. Every day strive to treat yourself with kindness and respect. Everything from the words you tell yourself in your head, to the activities you engage in throughout the day, all reflects your self-worthiness. You want to make sure that you're consistently filling your head with positive, encouraging words and activities that make you feel fulfilled. You deserve that.
Take care of your physical self. Drinking plenty of water, enjoying balanced meals, exercising regularly, and getting quality sleep all can have a profoundly positive effect on your mental health. Don't stress about trying to manage all of these things daily, take it one step at a time.
Spend time with positive, supportive people. This doesn't have to be current friends or family (but added bonus if you have these social connections already!). Join support groups, or get involved in a volunteer setting to connect with people that will listen empathically and help build you up.
Find ways to give. Speaking of volunteering, this is another great way to protect your mental health! Donating your time, money, skills, etc. can give you quite the mood boost. Just be sure that you have solid time boundaries when considering a volunteer opportunity so you don't stretch yourself too far.
Practice healthy coping skills with stress. Unfortunately, stress is a reality for all of us. Therefore, it's so important you have a mental toolbox to help you cope with daily stressors.
Regularly engage in mindfulness activities. Meditating, praying, walking, doodling, and even journaling can all be considered mindfulness activities because they require you to be fully present with your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Regularly engaging in these activities helps with reactivity to daily stressors by keeping the mind calm.
Make your goals SMART. Do you ever feel like you're working hard but not getting anywhere? It's time to get out a paper and pen to make your goals SMART- specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Once you've written them down, it'll be easier to track your progress and the more accomplished you'll feel, instead of feeling like you're spinning in circles. For help on this, visit Mind Tools.
Structure is good but, shake things up a bit from time to time. Routines help us feel safe and give us a sense of efficiency. But it can help boost your mood (and your brainpower) to try new things. This can be as simple as taking a walk in a new park, trying a new restaurant, or even learning a new hobby.
Avoid using alcohol, drugs, and food for emotional coping. These substances can all provide temporary relief to everyday problems and anxieties but, over time it will leave you feeling worse. Keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum, avoid drugs altogether, and be gentle (but firm) with yourself when you feel like you're sliding into a junk-food binge because of a bad day.
Don't be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. Mental health is a very private journey and only you know what you need, however, it can be incredibly helpful to establish a relationship with a therapist and create a mental health plan just like you would for your physical health.
Protecting your mental health daily doesn't require you to follow all 10 of the above tips. In fact, it's more than enough to start with one (like volunteering once a week, or journaling a couple of nights a month) and build on that until you have established a regular habit. These small steps make it easier for your mental health to become a priority that actually makes it on your "to-do list".
For help creating SMART goals and implementing achievable, daily habits please reach out to the St. Andrew's Family Fitness Plus's Fitness Department by submitting this online form. Our team of certified Personal Trainers will work with you individually to create a plan that prioritizes and protects your mental health!