How To Prioritize Your Mental Health
As time goes on, phrases like “mental health” and “self-care” are mentioned more frequently in day-to-day life. The increasing normalization of mental health is incredible and important, but what does it really mean? How does one actually start to prioritize mental health and well-being?
Tending to your mental health is all about recognizing your unique needs and developing practices and habits to honor them. This can feel challenging and even selfish at first, especially if you’re not used to getting your needs met. But it’s the antidote to stress, anxiety, depression, and burnout so it’s worth the practice and dedication.
If you struggle to prioritize your mental health, try these four tips, and remember that the best way to support the well-being of others is by first taking care of yourself.
Learn to say no
For a lot of people, saying “no” to others can feel incredibly challenging. But constantly saying “yes” to those around you can lead to burnout, stress, and even resentment, all of which weigh on mental health. Since saying “no” can bring up feelings of guilt or shame for some, it’s important to begin to explore what your boundaries are in different parts of your life: work, school, familial relationships, etc. The best route for communicating a boundary or saying “no” is to be clear, firm, and courteous. Many of us have been taught that saying “no” has a negative connotation, but it’s actually a great act of self-care.
This can take the form of simple daily rituals like list-making or maybe a planning session on a Sunday that could help you feel more in control of the week ahead. We suggest putting pen to paper and mapping things out to try and find a little calm in the chaos. Scheduling your self-care and positive moments will help you carve out time and make them happen, the key in the process of learning how to prioritize your mental health.
Spend time outside
Outdoor activities can help reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Changing your environment when you are feeling cooped up can also promote happiness and natural light exposure helps ensure a better night’s sleep. A good goal is to take at least one 10-minute walk outside each day. You’ll also find that other activities like playing a sport, riding a bike, or gardening can give a great mood boost.
Reach out to a professional
Sometimes, one of the best things you can do to prioritize your mental health is simply contacting a mental health professional. Therapy is an excellent way to explore your emotions in-depth, identify your stressors, and receive an accurate diagnosis. Going to therapy is not a sign of weakness but is a sign of strength.
However, it’s understandable if you have anxiety about therapy. It can be an intimidating experience. Just remember that therapists are there to support you and help you navigate your emotions and mental health.
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