Mental Wellness Month aims to help people recognize the importance of nurturing their mental health, regardless of their current condition. Mental health resources – such as therapy and treatment – are not exclusive to cases of severe mental illness. They can help countless people cope with life’s stressors and keep them from making poor decisions or struggling needlessly with the consequences of their circumstances.
Protective factors and habits, like better dietary choices, better quality sleep, more exercise, a better work-life balance, a greater emphasis on social activities and positive interactions, and therapeutic health services are universally beneficial and help us all stave off the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression, regardless of our mental health history.
What Is Mental Wellness?
Mental wellness describes a state of emotional well-being, wherein a person regularly demonstrates the capacity to cope with extrinsic stressors in a healthy manner and limit intrinsic stress via a robust self-esteem and sense of belonging in the community or family of their choice. Mental wellness is also psychological equilibrium, representing a healthy response to stress.
It is not just a state of permanent contentment or happiness. Mental well-being must include the ability to feel sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, or bewildered at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. Mental wellness can also be cultivated. You can improve your emotional and behavioral responses. You can change and adapt your coping mechanisms. You can affect your thought processes.
What is Mental Wellness Month to You?
Furthermore, Mental Wellness Month highlights the importance of psychoeducation as a tool to help people expand their understanding of mental health and illness, reduce stigma caused by ignorance of mental health issues, and increase the likelihood of an early diagnosis for millions of people who might not go through mental health screening.
How to Celebrate Mental Wellness Month
This January, let’s take the chance and dedicate the month to making a few positive changes that can help you improve your mental well-being and make you more aware of mental health issues in those around you.
1. Practice Contentment and Gratitude
One of the core tenets of good mental wellness is a healthier sense of self, including better self-respect. The first goal will be to give yourself credit where credit is due and practice contentment.
Contentment, in this context, is not about accepting negative circumstances but recognizing that it’s also important to celebrate the positive things in life, to show gratitude, and to look “on the bright side.”
If you become too caught up with all the things you want to change, you lose sight of the things you have already achieved, the things you can already be proud of, and the things you must acknowledge before committing to change. No one starts from square one. And no one starts alone.
Another important element of gratitude is recognizing the positive roles others have played in our lives, no matter how small. Learning to de-emphasize negativity and focus on the positive aspects of the past and present can help us improve our mood, improve our thought patterns, and affect our behavior.
Like many other things, however, this must be practiced. Emphasizing negativity – i.e., the negativity bias – is normal, although dwelling on negative thoughts – and experiencing rumination – can lead to depressive episodes, as well as feelings of anxiety, especially after stressful situations. It takes time and a concrete plan of action to address your negative thinking, especially if it is starting to become a serious problem in your day-to-day.
2. Small Steps in the Right Direction
One mistake many people make when trying their hand at self-improvement is starting things off with a big proclamation or an abstract goal.
Instead of something vague and impersonal like improving your physical fitness or taking better care of your mental health, try specific and/or smaller mental goals that are especially relevant to you, such as talking to a counselor or professional about that house fire you experienced as a child, planning your first appointment with a therapist, or setting a goal of the same six-minute mile you used to run when you were still in college.
Another thing you can try is to keep your goals close to your heart. Give out vague details, but don’t tell people exactly what you plan to do. Some research indicates that talking openly about our goals gives us the same or similar satisfaction to actually completing them. If you hold off from telling anyone about the specifics of your goal until you’ve already completed it, you retain the urge to go out and do it.
3. Reserve Time for Your Hobbies
If you find yourself dedicating most of your time to work or chores – whether it’s renovations around the house, taking care of the kids, or putting in serious overtime for the twelfth week in a row – it’s high time to pull out an agenda or calendar and put aside time to do the things you need to do for yourself, whether it’s finally taking your kids out on that weekend BMX trip you’ve been dreaming about, or getting started on your personal woodworking project.
No matter what it takes, make that time window for yourself. It won’t magically come around otherwise, and the longer you go on without doing anything to address your own well-being, the closer you get to burning out and becoming entirely unproductive both at work and at home.
4. Recognize the Warning Signs
Mental wellness also means mental awareness. The signs of a mental health issue are often creeping and are difficult to recognize at first.
Talk to your loved ones and friends often. Encourage them to check up on you, and check up on them. Talk about visiting a therapist together if it’s your first time. There is no harm in talking to a mental health professional, even if you feel “fine.”
How Will You Celebrate Mental Wellness Month?
How do you plan on embracing Mental Wellness Month this January?
You can do a lot to adjust and improve your mental wellness through healthy habit forming and goal setting. But there is a limit to what you can do alone. Sometimes, we all need help.
For more information about mental health treatment, contact Amend Treatment.