5 Tips to a Better Mental Health in 2021. (Part 3 of 6)
In recent years, the issue of mental health has been given the spotlight and the importance that it deserves. Now more than ever, a lot of people, from companies, to international institutions and individuals from different age groups are understanding the importance of mental health and taking an active stance in taking care of it, and rightly so.
Why do you need to take care of your mental health?
Mental health is defined as “the state of successful performance of mental function”. Optimal mental health leads to a ton of benefits - a healthy and productive individual, enriching interpersonal relationships, and the ability to adapt to life’s situations - good, bad and worst. Your mental health should be a priority because it has a lot to do with the way you feel, the way you think, and the way you think of yourself and of others.
“Focusing on mental health” shouldn’t be limited to going on retreats and “wellness weekends” every now and then anymore, rather it should become more of the little things that you do for yourself on a regular basis that accumulate and provide you with a sense of purpose and security. Although there still remains the stigma on mental health issues, every person wanting to learn more about how to focus on his/her mental health is a huge step in the right direction.
How can you take better care of your mental health in 2021? Here are 5 easy ways you can start with:
Commit to doing 1 act of self-care DAILY
Knowing and being okay with the fact that you need to take care of yourself is important. It’s not about being selfish or being oblivious to other people’s needs; it’s about you taking time to work on yourself and making sure that you’re okay so you can be there for others. Instead of seeing self-care as “me first”, think of it as “me too”. As much as you try to downplay it, how can you be a source of joy and happiness for others if you’re broken and empty on the inside?
Remember to take time for yourself each day and do something that you genuinely love and enjoy. A warm bath at the end of a long day, a basketball game with friends, a nice nap, a spa day at the end of a productive week, or a few minutes of calm and clarity through meditation before you start your day. You can even set aside time to do that hobby you’ve always wanted to try!
You can also take a few minutes at the end of your day to recall the things you are grateful for. Free mobile apps like this and this make it convenient for you to list down the things you’re grateful for. Habits like this shift your mindset and let you strike a balance between the good things from within and the bad things from without.
Disconnect to connect
Social media has a lot of benefits; it allows people to connect with others and bridges that physical gap by providing a virtual bridge. However, social media can also be detrimental to your mental health, especially if left unchecked. For some people, especially younger ones, the use of social media went from being optional to being “virtually mandatory”. A quick scroll through your Instagram feed can distort your sense of self because all you can see is a fake version of what other people’s realities are.
For the sake of your mental health, be aware of your bad phone habits and take control of them! Try to limit social media use to a few hours a day and set “phone-free” zones in your house and make sure everyone follows it. When things become better pandemic-wise, use such time to physically spend time with friends and loved ones.
Take a moment to connect with nature
Regardless if you’re an outdoor type of person or you prefer to stay at home and indoors, nature can do a lot for your mental health. More and more research suggests that spending time with nature can be an amazing boost for your mental health, in fact, just 10 minutes of looking at or being in nature can already reduce your stress levels! If it’s allowed in your area, dedicate at least 10 to 30 minutes of your day being in and with nature like taking a stroll in a nearby park, or soaking in the sunshine in your porch. You can even organize a hike for you and your friends.
You don’t need an entire garden or forest to “be with nature”, even a tiny houseplant or a patch of flowers at home will do.
Seek help when you need it
It’s high time that you understand that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. If you’re okay when people who want to get better at sports get coaches who teach them ways to improve their skills and performance, then it shouldn’t be any different with people who want to get professional advice to help them with their mental health.
Opening up to someone, may it be a close friend or a professional, can help lift the weight off your shoulder should you need help with it. These people, because they have your best interest in mind, can give you a new perspective on things which may help you make better sense of what’s happening.
How many times have you postponed “you” because you’re needed by someone else or somewhere else? For 2021, no more dilly-dallying and no more “reserving this for later”. You’ve taken well enough screenshots of things you want to do and try for yourself and it’s time to make them happen. Take them out of your gallery and set those things into action.
Don’t wait until you’re in a mental health crisis before you realize that you need to take action. Each day that you invest in yourself is another day that your future self will thank you for.
In 2021, keep in mind that “doing your best” shouldn’t mean driving yourself to the point of mental exhaustion. Be kinder to yourself and acknowledge your strengths and your wins. Be your own cheerleader and supporter rather than your worst critic. Head off to 2021 knowing that you’re ready because you’ve got your back.
That’s it for part 3, see you in part 4!