Growing up, we would sometimes say so-and-so was a little “touched.” Mental health issues were shrouded in mystery. Being “touched” could mean any variety of breaks with reality. It might mean you were talking to yourself, hallucinating or paranoid. It could mean you were a hoarder or constantly sad or angry. Some people are born into a world of mental health issues, while others develop complications over time. I’ve experienced my own share of anxiety and depression, and I’m not alone. According to a 2019 study by the National Institute of Mental Health, 51.5M adults in the U.S. live with a mental illness. That’s 20.6% of all adults and 24.5% of women. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness Like it or not, we are all at risk of being touched by mental health issues at some point in our lives.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s the perfect opportunity to take a little time to check in on your own mental wellness routine. Sometimes we get so busy managing our hectic lives and working to fit in that we ignore trauma and hide from our real selves. Here are my 5 tips to make your “mental” magical:
- Practice gratitude. – Consider keeping a gratitude journal, repeating gratitude affirmations or consciously counting your blessings on a daily basis. Gratitude relieves depression, anger, anxiety, jealousy and a host of other negative emotions that can lead to poor mental health.
- Cultivate meaningful relationships. – Friends, family members, partners, mentors, business associates, spiritual leaders, healthcare providers, co-workers and role models are all important in creating a supportive community. Building community and connection is critical in keeping any sense of loneliness or isolation at bay. Humans are social creatures; we are not at our best when we aren’t in community.
- Forgive yourself and others. – Forgiveness doesn’t mean we absolve ourselves or anyone else from guilt for wrongdoing. It means we release our anger so we don’t harm ourselves or others. According to healthline.com, while anger issues don’t qualify as a medical diagnosis, they are the symptom of many mental health issues including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, intermittent explosive disorder (IED) and grief.
- Have boundaries. – Learn to know and love yourself enough to say “yes” to the things that you want and “no” to the things that you don’t. Lack of boundaries can lead to mental strain caused by unwitting friends and family innocently sleeping on your emotional lawn, or by methodical abusers, like narcissists, who take advantage of your open fences. “No.” is a full sentence. Learn to use it to protect your sanity.
- Let shit go. – Learning to live in the now is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. The past is gone. The future hasn’t happened. All you can control is the current moment. Work to heal past wounds and trauma, and then let them go. Be mindful of the moment your in and do your best to enjoy it. You’re alive, after all.
Depending on your background and circumstances, mental health issues may present themselves for either short or extended periods. Much like with physical ailments, preventative care makes a world of difference. We all know that regular exercise, a healthy diet and appropriate hydration can ward off most chronic illnesses. Make sure to have a fitness routine for your mental health as well.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential!
P.S. The photo is a quote from tennis legend, Arthur Ashe. It speaks beautifully to our journeys. We all work with what we have. Whatever you’re working with, take time to work on you. If you want to cultivate new relationships while creating a space for preventative care for your mental health, join me for one of my upcoming events. Click the link below for more information.