How to Prioritize Your Mental Health in 2018: Why It's Important
With the upcoming year quickly approaching, it’s impossible not to think about what all it may entail. We start to think about our new years resolutions and the phrase “new year new me” is in conversation. Truthfully there is nothing wrong with planning and goal setting for the new year. The key is to make sure you are actually putting plans in place to make those goals a reality. Normally when thinking of what we desire in the new year, we think of physical health including exercising more and eating healthier. We think financially, usually in the sense of getting a new or higher paying job or saving more money. We think of our love lives, hoping this is the year to get engaged or even get in a committed relationship. We say we would like to travel more, try new things, be more adventurous, read more books and everything in between.
While these things are all great to strive for in the new year, there is something many people neglect on their long list, which is wanting better mental health. Seldom do we hear people state they want to get into therapy this year, heal from the past hurt from broken relationships or learn better coping skills to reduce stress levels. Mental health is a key ingredient to succeeding in a lot of the many things we seek in a new year, but we never take the time to nurture. Here are a few ways to prioritize your mental health this upcoming year and why they are important.
Want Better Mental Health
I know this seems redundant, but it truly is the basis to most success. You have to want it. If you do not want your mental health to get better, it probably won’t. This isn’t something that occurs by happen chance. If your goal was to get a healthier body, you wouldn’t just sit around hoping it gets better. You have to want it, and want it enough to put in the work to make it happen. So to prioritize your mental health, you have to want to prioritize it. The truth is there will be times you will want to give up on bettering your mental health just like you can get frustrated in trying to accomplish any other goal.
Why it’s important: What you want is what you get out of mental health. Your mindset dictates your success.
Identify Coping Skills and Stick to Them
It is likely that in everything I write, in majority of my sessions and most presentations, I will at some point mention coping skills. Coping skills should be a fundamental part of your life if you are prioritizing your mental health. Coping skills can range from things like listening to music, exercise, journaling, talking to a friend or watching a movie. It is something that helps you to relax and de-stress. It is key to have some preventative coping skills like the ones listed above, as well as some for more intense moments that help you to calm down instantly. The key to coping skills are to use them. They don’t work if you don’t use them.
Why it’s Important: Coping skills are like mini mental health workouts. They help you to maintain balance and stability mentally and emotionally.
This may seem obvious and in line with traditional new years resolutions, but the focus here is mental. While I am all for removing negative people and situations out of your life, that same energy should be exerted towards ourselves as well. Sometimes we’re so focused on disconnecting from everyone else’s negativity, we neglect to identify our own. Sometimes the most negative parts of our lives stem from the negativity in our own minds. Our negative self-talk and thoughts can hinder us more than any other form of negativity. Constantly thinking the worse, telling yourself you can’t do something or thinking you’re unattractive all play a part in your life. How do you expect to get the new job, the healthy relationship or healthy body if your mindset is not positive enough? Most resolutions require patience, positivity and self-encouragement to make them happen.
Why it’s Important: You first succeed in your mind. If your thoughts are polluted and stuffed with negativity, it creates an environment not conducive for growth and leaves no room for a winning mindset.
Declutter and Focus
This again sounds like a typical resolution. Again, the focus is mental. Yes, declutter your home, office, and car. Clearing out these spaces are indeed beneficial to your mental health. I always say the state of your space reflects the state of your mind. So if your room is cluttered, more than likely so are your thoughts. More than just clearing out your space, you want to clear out your life. Are you trying to do so much that you aren’t really doing anything at all? Sometimes we can over commit our selves and it keeps us from accomplishing what we really want. Focus in on the things you really want and can do and learn how to say no to the things you can’t.
Why It’s Important: It is difficult to focus on what we want when our minds and spaces are cluttered. It also can be detrimental to our mental health when we are not accomplishing anything because we are stretching ourselves too thin.
Got to Therapy
I know, it seems cliché that the therapist is telling you to go to therapy. Honestly though, what better place to get your mental health in order? The same way some people go to the gym to better their physical health is the same as coming to therapy. Look at your therapist as your mental health personal trainer. It’s time to lay aside the stigma of therapy and pick up our mental health. Going to therapy is not as taboo as it once was. If you have some concerns, check out my post on some of the myths of therapy HERE. The point Is going to therapy is the most effective way of getting mentally fit.
Why it’s Important: Therapy is a great way to be made aware of things that may be hindering you in every other area of your life. All those resolutions, the relationship, the new job and working out, may all be blocked or hindered if your mental health is not at its best. Therapy can help change that.
While there are numerous things one can do to prioritize better mental health, I hope the things listed above are a good start. Let’s make 2018 an awesome year by focusing on our mental health. Here’s to getting mentally fit!!!