People often set goals around their physical health, like working out a certain amount of times each week, eating healthier, and making sure to have their yearly check-ups with their doctor, to name a few. With continued practice, these strategies can help people reach their physical goals and maintain a healthy body.
Just like your physical health, mental health can improve with practice and consistently implemented strategies. However, like figuring out an exercise routine and healthy eating habits, working to improve your mental health can be a challenge. What should you focus on first? How does it all connect?
First and foremost, everyone is different. There is no one size fits all, and there are many trained professionals who can help tailor a treatment more specific to your needs.
However, here are some general starting points to help you focus on your mental health journey:
• Name and validate your feelings. Often, we can name what we are feeling, but then we jump straight to problem solving without taking a moment to validate that it makes sense to feel that way. This can leave us feeling like certain emotions are wrong, sending us into a deeper spiral of feeling poorly about ourselves and how we are handling a situation.
• Recognize and reframe negative thinking. After naming and validating the feeling, it is important to make sure our thoughts are accurate. Our thoughts are connected to how we feel, which in turn affects how we behave. When we tell ourselves inaccurate stories, it impacts how we feel about ourselves or a situation and can cause us to act in a way that might make our situation worse. A good rule of thumb is if your thought is something you wouldn’t say to a best friend or loved one in a similar situation, it is time to reframe and find a kinder way of speaking to yourself -- be your own best friend!
• Practice mindfulness and self-care. Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. Noticing what’s happening around you and what you’re feeling without passing judgement on it. There are many ways to practice mindfulness and many resources available to help you do so. Self-care is the act of being kind to yourself and making sure you are finding ways to balance your responsibilities with things you enjoy. Self-care can be getting outside for a walk, joining friends out to eat, or snuggling in to binge your favorite show. It’s the practice of tuning in to your needs and making sure they are being met just as much as you work to meet the needs of those around you.
If you are struggling and need guidance to manage your mental health, talking to a professional can help. Check out our list of local and national resource right here on srslymanchester.org