Let’s talk about mental health! 1 out of 5 adults in the country has experienced mental illness in their lifetime and the pandemic isn’t helping.
- People with substance use disorder are struggling.
- People with social anxiety are fearing how they’ll cope when the world returns to “normal” because we’ve gotten so used to not having to be in social situations.
- Those with OCD and anxiety are struggling with the what-ifs of the world.
- And depression thrives in isolation.
Paying attention to your mental health is more important than ever. I want to highlight the foundations of managing your mental health.
Mental Health Self-Awareness
First step: always be aware of where your mental health is at. Keep tabs on your feelings and emotions and watch out for those signs that you’re becoming overwhelmed: extreme moodiness, inability to calmly handle the daily stresses of life, social withdrawal, and detachment.
When you learn the signs that mean you’re starting to struggle – you give yourself the ability to do what you can to manage things before they get bad. So learn those little signs (physical and mental) that tell you – “Hey, I need to take a step back right now and take care of me.”
Ensure that you also take precautions to maintain your mental health by avoiding too much stress and pressure.
Sometimes our brains don’t work the way they’re supposed to and that’s okay. Accepting that you have mental health struggles is not always easy but in the end, it benefits you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I spent so long refusing to get help for anxiety and it affected literally every aspect of my life. I thought that if I ignored it, I’d eventually snap out of it.
I’m probably always going to have anxiety and depression, but if you look at where I was 10 years ago it’s vastly different and my life is infinitely better. If you’re struggling, with when to see a psychiatrist or therapist, don’t overthink it.
Get Professional Help (that’s a good fit!)
Not all mental health professionals are created equal and I wish I’d have known that. Sometimes you’ll get someone who is just not a good fit for you. Ask yourself if you’d feel more comfortable opening up to a man or woman or if it doesn’t matter. If you’re part of the LGBTQ community, having a therapist who is accepting and inclusive is incredibly important.
Remember that your therapist works for you and if it’s not working for you, don’t be afraid to fire them and find someone that’s a better fit!
Who you surround yourself with matters, even when you don’t think it does. I have a Facebook friend who constantly posts negative, demeaning, or dramatic things. The cup is always half-empty. I found myself being drained, anxious, and teetering on a depressive episode, and while it was mainly for other reasons (see all of America for 2020) I found that her negative comments were having a huge effect on my mental health.
The same goes for toxic relationships. My worst mental health years were when I stayed in toxic relationships while making excuses that it wasn’t “that bad”.
Your support system is such an important part of your mental health journey.
My wife and I have this thing where we check in with each other and just ask “1-10, how’s your mental health today?” And it’s a great practice. If my anxiety is high then she’ll ask what I need, and if she’s feeling down, I ask what she needs. Having someone to check in with is awesome.
Take a Step Back and Review Your Progress
Review where you’re at (I prefer monthly)! In my 2021 Self-Care Planner, I have a “Monthly Starting Stats” page that lets you review where you’re at every month so that you can see what is affecting your mental health whether it’s positive or negative.
Journaling is also something that I highly recommend. While it doesn’t take the place of a strong support system or a therapist, it’s a great way to get your thoughts out and be able to see them in a more neutral way!
Remember that even if you don’t have a mental illness, we all have mental health, so take care of yours!
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