If 2020 didn’t teach us anything else it definitely taught us to prioritize our mental health okay! & when I say mental health I am not referring to a mental diagnosis or mental illness. A mental diagnosis/illness is a condition that affects the way a person processes their emotions, behaves, thinks, & interacts with others. Mental health however is a person’s psychological and emotional state. Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to their community. Poor mental health can lead to a mental illness/diagnosis.
Here’s six tips to take control over your mental health this year:
1. Be nice to yourself
I know this sounds simple but it’s really not! On average, a person has between 12k - 60k thoughts PER DAY while 80% of these thoughts being negative and these negative thoughts are most likely about yourself. It’s important to be nice to yourself and show yourself some grace because what if you had someone in your ear all day on that negative BS?! It would get on your nerves right? Learn how to stop doing that to yourself by doing things such as repeating affirmations, listening to uplifting music, or even going ‘issa rae style’ by hyping yourself up in the mirror.
2. Create a routine
There is power in routine okay! Routine isn’t just about productivity but it's also good for your mental health. Routines help decrease uncertainty which is what anxiety feeds off of. Routine decreases decision fatigue because you don’t have to make as many unnecessary decisions. Routine helps you become more disciplined which results in becoming more resilient when things knock you off your routine. Having a routine doesn’t have to be difficult; it can be something as small as saying your affirmations in the morning or organizing your calendar for the week every Sunday or scheduling a bi-weekly cleaning service for your apartment.
3. Identify your supports
Having a support network is CRITICAL. You can’t do everything on your own. It’s important to know who you can go to for venting/advice or who you can count on to get something done for you. Support networks can look like your friends, parents, church friend, cohorts, therapist, or a life coach.
4. Keep your physical spaces clean
Your physical space is a direct reflection of your mental space. So if your room and desk is all cluttered and disorganized so is your mind. Get your space in order so that can be one less thing you have to worry about.
5. Identify triggers
What makes you tick? What are your pet peeves? What are the signs of you burning yourself out? It’s important to learn your triggers so you can avoid it or at least be prepared if you know you’re going to be around it. Being prepared helps you decrease stepping out of character which results in better mental health.
6. Identify coping skills & self-care
I know I know, we have dragged the words self-care and coping skills into the ground but they are absolutely necessary. Keep in mind self-care are the things you do to keep your mental health intact BEFORE the stressors and coping skills are what you do AFTER the stressors happen to help you manage your emotions and actions. So self-care are things like drinking water, meditating, exercising, etc. Coping skills are things like taking deep breaths, taking breaks, regulating your emotions by journaling, etc. What things work for you?
Overall, maintaining good mental health is a daily effort. Everyone requires different things for their mental health so this list is not the ‘end all be all’. Do what works for you. Let’s go from surviving to thriving this year.