Mental health is slowly, but surely, gaining the recognition and prioritization that it needs. It’s becoming more mainstream to realize that therapy isn’t taboo and that it can be useful to everyone, including those without a diagnosed illness. In fact, most insurance plans now cover mental health or substance use disorder services to some degree. Even with the issue gaining public acceptance, some people, myself included, resist the idea that they need to, at times, reveal their vulnerability to others.
Recent studies have shown that, particularly in students, stress and anxiety levels are on the rise, increasing the relevance of the importance of mental health awareness. I feel like, today, doing the most and overloading yourself with work is often seen as admirable, while having excess free time is sometimes shed in a negative light, like you aren’t working hard enough. To me, this is something we as a society need to work on and can hopefully be done through increased mental health awareness. A poor mental state can also lead to drug use, which, of course, can lead to a whole other slew of problems. In fact, 33% of millennials attest that they began using drugs due to depression and loneliness.
With all of this in mind, it’s clear that your mental health should be on your list of priorities. However it can still be difficult to know how to prioritize this and what steps to actually take. Contrary to what you might think, there isn’t just one solution and not every one option will work the same for different people. It’s all about what will work best for you, specifically.
Therapy can be incredibly effective and the option you’ve probably heard about most. The frequency and style can vary, though, and there are online programs that allow you to speak to someone in the comfort of your own home. Still, sometimes therapy isn’t possible, so here are three ways to work on your mental well-being that you can try today.
Meditating is all about centering yourself and being conscious of your breathes. It allows you to step away from the external stressors in the world, and instead focus just on calming your body and mind. There are apps you can use, or you can simply sit, breathe, and focus on a specific thought in that moment.
2. Physical Exercise
This doesn’t have to mean lifting weights — it doesn’t even have to be that intense of a work out. The point of this is to get your body moving in whatever way suits you. For some this means a yoga class, for others it’s a walk in their neighborhood, and for some it can mean going out dancing. Whatever will bring you and your body joy is the right choice.
3. Being Kind to Yourself
This is the vaguest but by far the most important. Often we are our own worst critic, so we sometimes need to train ourselves to be kinder and more forgiving — to ourselves. Combat negative thoughts by “telling” yourself positive ones. Reassure yourself that the future holds positive outcomes. Start your day with a compliment to yourself. This can take many forms, but never let yourself bring you down.
Taking care of your mind is so important and often so ignored. It’s easy to push to the side — it’s not a physical ailment and it’s often not visible. However, the effects of not taking proper care of your mental state can be detrimental to not only you, but also the people around you. Today, take some time for yourself, you may be surprised how much of your life and perspective it can improve.