Mental health isn't just whether you feel depressed or too stressed - it is your overall emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Optimizing and managing mental health an integral part of a comprehensive health strategy, and your mental health impacts how people think, feel, act, handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions.
Optimal mental health is not just the absence of a diagnosable mental disorders but includes factors like:
Your mental health has a significant impact on your life. Let's take a look at some strategies you can deploy in this new year to steer your own mental health in the direction you need it to go.
try out therapy
Gone are the days of difficult to find therapy appointments. With services like Headway and BetterHelp, you can connect with providers in your area for telehealth appointments. You can even browse by specialty, gender, and more. I found my therapist through BetterHelp and we now meet through Headway! BetterHelp is great if you do not have insurance coverage for mental health.
Try to identify your hesitation with finding someone to talk to. Do you have some sort of stigma against therapy? Why do you think that is?
Do you think that you can 'get away' with talking to a friend or family member? Do you think they are equipped to help you? Or that their mental health is sturdy enough to be able to be your dumping ground?
Going to one or a few therapy sessions does not mean you have to be "in therapy" for the rest of your life. Many people seek out therapy for certain life situations, move in and out of treatment and maintenance, or spread out appointments to meet their needs.
There are a variety of mental health providers, from licensed therapists to psychologists and psychiatrists (can prescribe). If you'd prefer to talk with someone faith-based, search 'chaplain services near me' to see what is available.
eat to fuel your body
When I say eat to fuel your body, I mean focus on foods that make your body and brain feel good. We all know what foods make us feel good and what makes us feel sluggish. Sometimes those sluggish foods are worth it for short periods of time as we indulge, but if you find yourself wallowing under a mountain of those sluggish foods, come up with a strategy or two on how to fuel your body. Eating a brain-healthy diet, even if it's the self-efficacy effect of you doing something good for yourself, and taking control, is a great way to start.
prioritize healthy relationships
Building supportive connections is important for mental health. Cultivating and maintaining strong and positive relationships with others can help you feel happier and more satisfied with your life by increasing your sense of worth, belonging, and making you feel less alone.
Signs of healthy relationships include respect, trust, open communication, shared and individual interests, understanding, honesty, care, emotional support, and shared values.
Healthy relationships with friends and loved ones requires effort, both to build those connections and maintain them. Some tips on how to do this:
Just like good relationships are important for positive mental health, bad relationships can be destructive.
Signs of a toxic relationship are the mirrors of healthy relationships. Things like: lack of support (your partner is not invested in your success), toxic communication (contempt and criticism), jealousy, controlling behaviors, resentment, dishonesty, and patterns of disrespect such as "forgetting" events.
A toxic relationship can be with anyone, not just a loved one. It can be the partner of a friend or relative, a co-worker, a business partner, or a neighbor. You're worth more than how they treat you.
If you suspect there may be even the smallest possibility of retaliatory abuse or violence know your local emergency contacts, learn your options, and contact your country's National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Psych Central shares 10 steps to end a toxic relationship, and they're worth checking out.
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