By Stacy York, licensed clinical social worker
As I ponder on mental health awareness, I realize that defining mental health is complicated. What’s healthy for one person may not be healthy for another. What does “mental health” even mean? I’ve been in this field long enough to realize that we will get broad, generalized definitions to this question. Thus, this is my very own definition: Mental health means the ability to manage life in a way that leads to being able to cope in a healthy manner, expressing emotions in a safe way, and continuing to engage in daily activities and relationships. Still a broad definition. Life is hard. Things happen. Many of us were never taught how to express feelings, let alone appropriately. Many of us struggle to ask for help or lean on others.
Here are 2 tips to maintain your mental health.
- Express your feelings. This is much easier said than done. Most of us grew up in a time where “kids are to be seen and not heard.” With so many messages growing up, we have gotten pretty good at just pushing those feelings aside and dealing with them “later.” That does not work very well. So, we have to find ways to express those feelings. Talk to a friend. Journal. Cry. Go to therapy. Exercise. Open up and start putting those feelings where they need to be placed. Add body movement to expressing those feelings and you’ll ensure that your whole brain is engaged in this process.
- Do things that fill your bucket. In a world where everyone else can control our agenda, put some things in place that actually bring you joy. Schedule it. Make this time non-negotiable. Find 10 minutes a day to do something that is not stressful and makes you smile. Maybe it’s going for a walk or talking to a friend. Perhaps it is sitting in silence. Maybe it’s reading a book or eating your favorite piece of chocolate. Listen to your favorite song. Being intentional and making a plan to do something you enjoy can make a huge difference in our mental health.
Mental health takes practice and intention just like physical health. It is just as important. I hope these 2 tips point you in the right direction!
Stacy G. York is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She provides counseling services, as well as training for parents and professionals, through her private practice in Evergreen, Colorado. Learn more about her services at http://bewhatsright.com/