You may have penned down your goals/resolutions/action points/ideas…whatever you’re calling it this year, for 2020; some of which may include plans to eat healthier, exercise more, sleep better or just achieve and maintain optimal physical health generally. However, it is important to ensure that you are intentional about your mental health this year.
You may be wondering “what has mental health got to do with it?”
Your mental health; which includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affects how you think, feel, and act. Your mental fitness or lack of it has the ability to positively or negatively affect vital areas of your life.
Furthermore, your mental health helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make decisions in life. It therefore goes without saying that if you are mentally fit, fully present and at peace generally; and if you constantly decide to be happy in the midst of life and its eccentricities, then you are bound to achieve more.
“Your mental health is a priority. Your happiness is an essential. Your self-care is a necessity.”
The importance of optimal mental health cannot be over-emphasized. So, here are 5 practical tips to prioritize your mental health in 2020.
Take mental breaks/Unplug
This year might get crazy; crazy good and crazy not-so-good. You will face challenges, obstacles and probably overwhelmed at some point. Perhaps, it may be from the goals you have set as nothing good comes easy. You will therefore need to take mental breaks periodically to ensure that you do not get mentally burned out.
Mental breaks are great for your mental health in general because they give you a much-needed boost in creativity and productivity. They serve to rejuvenate and refresh your mind so you are not simply existing on auto-pilot mode on a day-to-day basis, “barely makin’ it“. These breaks, if taken the right way, serve to provide a healthy balance between rest and work/productivity in a very busy and distracting world.
Also, when you take these mental breaks, unplug from the world for some time. In a fast-paced world, such as the one we live in right now, it is easy to get enveloped in every distraction available to mankind. While it comes with its perks, the internet and social media have made our connectivity and access all the more heightened. We are connected to everything and everything is connected to us. Access to you has never been easier.
Take occasional social media breaks if necessary; disconnect from the world for a bit. I promise, YOU WILL SURVIVE. Be okay with listening to your mind and thoughts rather than having it crowded with information all the time or being pulled in different directions.
You can read more about why you need mental breaks and 5 simple ways to take a mental break here.
Avoid toxic environments
You need to be intentional about the environments and people you constantly relate with. You need to have the courage to move away from toxic people and environments that are not mentally healthy. If you can stay away from places, avoid certain types of food to preserve your physical health, then you need to be ready to do same to maintain optimal mental health.
When your brain is constantly filled with any form of toxicity such as verbal and emotional abuse, gossip, negativity as well as verbal beat downs, YOU CANNOT BE PRODUCTIVE. This is because your brain does not know the difference between right and wrong. Whatever you constantly reinforce is what it will believe. So if you consistently place yourself in these kind of environments, sure enough, you will begin to think like this.
So what if some of these toxic people are family members? Find a way to manage your relationship with each family member so you do not get mentally dehydrated while dealing with them.
Avoiding toxic environments and people will ultimately help to boost your mental health as you will not be constantly consumed by negativity and toxicity, thereby leaving room to allow you be creative and productive.
It is simply amazing what power this little two-letter word holds and what peace it brings. So I learned this pretty much late in life and used to be so stressed out and burned out due to the loads of commitments and deadlines I would bring upon my self just because I could not say no.
I would inconvenience myself for others to my own detriment and I was constantly unhappy (this is not to say that sacrificing for others once in a while is not good, but there has to be some kind of balance in place)…and being unhappy or constantly burned out is definitely not the recipe for productivity or getting things done; because honestly, if your mind is tired of doing so much all the time, then you’re bound to be moody, irritable, confused, frustrated and lack the necessary concentration required to get things done.
Learn to say “no” once in a while to avoid taking on too much at once and getting burned out. Practice Selective availability. If you cannot do it at the moment, you cannot do it and that is fine. As long as it is not a life-death situation, your mother, brother, sister, friend, cousin, uncle, niece or nephew will be fine. As soon as you unburden yourself, you can help out.
“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.”
~ Anna Taylor
No, meditation is not just about sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed while making humming sounds. Meditation is a lot more than that as it involves a using particular techniques like mindfulness to focus your mind on a particular object, thought or activity. Trust me, it’s a lot harder than it seems.
By doing this, you are able to eliminate unwanted thoughts and clear your mind of any overwhelming feeling. You are also able to train your mind to be more attentive, stable and calm no matter what may be happening externally.
What you can do is take five to ten minutes of your day meditating. You can sit in an absolutely quiet place, close your eyes and focus just on your breathing or any other sound. When thoughts try to creep in as they normally would do, you mentally swat them away and maintain that quiet calm.
Praying also helps quiet the mind and keep the brain functional. This is because your body ultimately bows to your mind and the belief system you constantly reinforce therein. If you strongly believe that prayer will bring you peace and comfort, then it will. Prayer does not have to occur in a structured pattern. Just say it as you feel it and your spirit may just feel a tad bit lighter.
I have been journaling for close to six months now and it has been absolutely amazing!
After my post on how journalling is changing my life and the benefits of journalling, (which you can find here) I have received quite a number of messages from people sharing their journalling stories and how it has helped them alot.
Look…it is something to be tried.
Journalling has been proven to reduce anxiety, clarify thoughts and perspective, encourage mindfulness and self awareness as well as serve as an emotional release, thereby keeping you mentally fit for periods at a time.
Reach out/ Open up
When was the last time you genuinely opened up to someone about your feelings, emotions or just how life is treating you in general? When was the last time you said something along the lines of “You know what, I’m not doing so great?” when a trusted friend or family member sought to know how you are doing. When was the last time you felt light after having purged yourself of any deep-seated emotions that linger within?
I will definitely be the first to admit that it is not the easiest thing in the world to open up or bare your soul to anyone. In fact, it is easier and faster to just mutter a simple “fine” when asked the usual “how are you?”
However, opening up to a trusted friend, a family member, your therapist (if you have one) or even a stranger, boosts your mental health as it purges your brain of any conscious and unconscious mental blocks that may prevent you from living a mentally healthy life.
You should not be ashamed or guilty to open up about what you may be dealing with, including any mental illness or challenges you may be facing. What is unhealthy is holding things in with the expectation that they would just fly away.
Please reach out and open up today.
I hope these tips have been somewhat helpful to you.
Wishing you Love and Light,
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