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What is mental health?

The truth about mental health is it affects all of us. Just like physical health, we all need check-ups and proactive steps to ensure we stay healthy. Read below for tips on how to care for your mental wellbeing.

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People often think of mental health as only pertaining to the most severe situations. We hear diagnostic words and plenty of assumptions start to fill our minds. We place pre-judgments on terms like “depression,” “bipolar,” and “hyperactive” to name a few. We also self-sort subconsciously who we deem worthy of mental health struggles versus who we think should be able to “get over it.” Or even if we warrant all people with needing a tune up every so often, we still hold onto our preconceptions of how long it should take and what they should do.

For example, we may hear of a war veteran with PTSD and understand how such extreme trauma could result in heavy baggage. We respect and appreciate their sacrifice, fully knowing we cannot imagine their experiences. With those who survive abusive situations, we may feel for their pain and be more likely to lend sympathy should they turn to substances to cope. Even in those situations, though, we may remain stuck in certain ideas of when and how healing should occur. With someone who externally appears to live without any clear trauma or harsh circumstances, this becomes clearer as we may expect them to handle their mental wellness on their own without complaint.

Alternatively, no one would question a person seeking assistance for their physical health. We check-in with our doctor, get physicals, take vitamins, try new diets and exercise regiments without a second thought. Yet, we do not take the same care of our mental health. Maybe out of fear of appearing weak or maybe because we do not know where to begin. Whether out of a lack of tools or a lack of belief in the importance of mental wellness, though, it often moves to the backburner of our very busy lives.

The truth about mental health, however, is that it affects all of us, and as with physical health, there are great ways to care for ourselves. Approximately one in five adults experience a mental condition or illness of some kind in their lifetime. But even for the other 80%, living mindfully and remaining educated on mental wellness is vital to a healthy life. Taking a proactive approach can help us avoid bigger issues down the road. Similar to how medical screenings and tests can ensure we catch any sign of distress within our bodies before it grows into something worse.

The world of mental health is a large one, and it takes an active effort to stay informed. To start the process off, though, read below for a few tips on how to better care for your mental wellness.

1. Give yourself permission to take a mental health day when you need it. You’ll be more productive and easier to be around if you take the time you know you need for yourself. Think of it as preventive medicine by taking a day to relax and recharge.

2. Do something besides watching TV before bed. If you usually watch TV before sleeping, try changing it up with something more restful that contains less blue light. Use the time to read, color, journal, take a bath, or whatever else relaxes you.

3. Talk to someone, even if you think what you’re dealing with isn’t “bad enough.” There is no threshold you have to cross to warrant therapy or medication. You don't even need an official diagnosis to justify seeking help. If you are struggling or simply looking to better understand your own mental health, talk to someone. It can be your primary care doctor, a therapist, or even a trusted friend.

4. Consider dietary changes, such as lowering alcohol and sugar intake. While what we put into our body isn’t the only factor in our mental health, it can have a huge impact. Limiting the amount of refined sugar you eat and the amount of alcohol you drink can alleviate fatigue and headaches, while balancing your energy.

5. Stop glorifying busyness and get some rest. Make time for a full night sleep, as well as other activities you enjoy, such as happy hour, Pilates, painting, and whatever else you may love. Rest won’t fix all your problems but being overbooked and overworked will add to them.

6. Write down positive affirmations and inspiring quotes or verses. Keep a jar (or other container) in your room with positive affirmations about yourself, as well as some of your favorite inspirations. Find quotes, Bible verses, or anything else that motivates you and reminds you of your worth to read at times when you are going through a negative spiral.

7. Keep a self-care calendar. Make yourself a calendar with a 20-minute activity on it each day that is just for you. Use the time to read, color, cook, play guitar, go for a walk, or do anything else that breaks you from your busy routine and brings you joy.

These ideas are only the beginning of mental wellness, but they are a great place to start. Subscribe to this blog for weekly encouragement, information, and tips regarding mindfulness and mental health. And consider learning more about how to be a mental health advocate, break stigmas, and spread awareness.


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