Written by Haley Quinn
If I could share one piece of mental health info with the entire planet for World Mental Health Day, it would be this:
Mental health is about what you DO, it’s not something that just happens.
Mentally healthy people have mentally healthy habits that keep their emotions well-cared for and managed. This isn’t the sexiest analogy, but think of mental health like your hygiene. You don’t magically have clean teeth: you floss, brush them, see the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups. Our daily actions help improve our mental health too!
Here are 10 practical things you can do every day to care for your mental health!
- Notice your feelings – Take time to check in with what you’re feeling and what your emotional needs are so you can take care of them before they get bigger and harder to manage.
- Redefine emotional strength – Emotional strength isn’t ignoring your feelings or pretending that you’re fine. Emotional strength is about accepting that all human beings have emotions and this is a normal part of being a human being.
- Improve your sleep – Will a full night of rest cure your depression? No. Will getting regular sleep have some positive impact on your overall cognitive and emotional functioning? Very likely.
- Find supportive friends and family – Find people who empathize with your feelings and needs. Reach out and talk to people who care about your mental health. If people are telling you that you shouldn’t feel depressed or anxious or that you shouldn’t see a therapist? They’re undermining your mental health. Find people who lift you up.
- Talk to a professional – Professionals don’t do what your friends and family do, but friends and family don’t do what professionals do. They’ve had YEARS of training and experience. They’re trained in the best ways to treat mental health issues. They can help you actually figure out what is going on.
- Be active – Sleep and exercise are two of the mental health recommendations we’re most likely to say “yeah, yeah, I know…” when we hear them. The problem? They can actually make a significant difference in your functioning. Research heavily supports that even 20 minutes of exercise a week can improve your functioning. Find something you enjoy. Walking, hiking, swimming, dancing, all count!
- Get your feelings out – Whether you talk about them to someone, write them, or sing them, do something to get your feelings out of your head and outside of you. “Externalizing” your feelings gives you perspective, helps vent them and chill them out, and helps you work through what you need and are feeling.
- Mind your thoughts – Do you ever wish you could feel less inadequate, insecure, and bad? It’s really hard to feel ok about yourself when you’re constantly talking crap to yourself. Focus more on being like a supportive friend or a kind teacher to yourself and less like a Disney villain that lives in your head.
- Take a break – Burnout is real and you cannot run on fumes forever. Taking a break can help you rest up, recharge, and come back better and more effectively. Overworking yourself can lead to taking longer and longer recovery times and reduced productivity!
- Find what works for you – Yoga supposedly cured your friend’s depression? Great. That doesn’t mean that will or has to work for you. Your mental health is unique to you. You have your own challenges and needs – find what works for you. Experiment so you can find the best way of caring for your mental health.
World Mental Health Day is every single day that you’re on this planet. You have a brain 24/7, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. You have emotions. You will always have emotions. Take care of your mind and emotions today and all days.
Your Author: COCO THE LOUDER
Coco the Louder is an advocate, educator, entertainer, author, and an unshakable faith in everyone she meets. With a doctorate in clinical psychology and a passion for uplifting others, Coco’s streams focus on making mental health info empowering, accessible, and practical, even when diving deep into complex psychology questions.