Mental Health: Steps Towards a Brighter Future
By: Matthew Lakey
When we look at mental health, we are often only shown the end results of someone who has successfully taken care of their mental health. We see someone who wakes up at 5 am every day followed by a green juice, going to the gym, and this lavish, but sometimes, unrealistic routine. However, this is not the result for everyone, nor does it encompass the entire journey of one’s mental health.
Unfortunately, we often forget about the many steps and setbacks we face during this journey. There are days when you accomplish all your goals and other days when you find any excuse you can think of as to why this amount of energy is not worth putting towards your well-being.
Blogger Josh Lujan states, “Each small victory creates the mindset of a winner.” (Xaryu) He shows how small steps come into play, which can correlate to mental health. When we win, we feel good about ourselves. We feel accomplished. There are many ways to adjust your mindset, however, the thing to remember is, that it takes time.
You cannot just flip a switch and expect everything to be better. It takes arduous work, dedication, and discipline. This can be a challenge and many people struggle with it. We intend to make it a daily habit but often feel defeated by the first setback and give up. As we are conditioned on receiving instant gratification, we forget about the work needed to accomplish specific tasks. So, when it does not happen right away, we slip back into our negative mindset. One simple task you can start as soon as tomorrow is simply making your bed every morning.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Bedroom Poll, about 70% of Americans make their bed each morning. Stating “making the bed is about setting an intention to do the trivial things that bring about an orderly, thoughtful, responsible, balanced, or successful life.” After completing one task, what is one more? Creating a small, manageable list is easier than tackling the full list at once. It is the same with mental health; we cannot tackle it all in one sitting. There is a reason therapy is not just one session and done. You need to peel back the layers to uncover what is affecting your mental health.
Daily mental health check-ins can act in the same way as making your bed or peeling back those layers of your mental health. Doing it consistently will help build the routine in your mind and the overall effects will not seem so daunting. Let’s say you enjoy nature and being outside, but with the way life is going, you cannot seem to find time to go out and enjoy it. A simple solution would be to have your morning coffee or tea outside. By doing so, your mind registers that accomplishment, even if it is for only 10-15 minutes. If art is your passion, doodling a few minutes a day can bring a little more joy to your life.
Taking the time to find out what hobbies you enjoy and the actions that work best for you is vital in your step toward a brighter future. For some, going out with friends or family can be a boost to their mental well-being. Others may need a night in or time in the morning to journal and/or meditate. Take a moment and think about what it is that gives you joy or a sense of peace. Make a dedication to yourself to add that to your routine, even if it is for only a few minutes.
Lucky for us, living in the digital age adds another advantage to checking in on your mental well-being thanks to the applications on our phones. You can set up these apps to notify you throughout the day to check-in with yourself. This will help hold us accountable, especially on a hectic day. According to healthline.com some of the best mental health apps from 2021 are Moodkit*, Headspace*, iBreath*, and the Happify* app.
Moodkit was developed by two clinical psychologists and offers a journal feature to easily track your progress with a large variety of activities. With high user satisfaction and an affordable monthly price, Headspace is a “meditation app designed to help you live more mindfully.” Meditation offers stress relief, anxiety control, self-awareness, and attention span improvement. The iBreath app offers breathing exercises that may also help reduce stress and anxiety. This app will allow you to set a daily exercise, so you know when it is time to do your breathing exercises. Lastly, Happify is used to boost your mood. This app offers games to help cope with stress, fuel your career success, and build self-confidence.
The recent pandemic took a massive toll on everyone’s mental health. We were isolated from society and struggled with what was being defined as the “new norm.” With constant access to social media and the news in the palm of our hands, we were bombarded with a series of tragedies. Though these steps are no substitute for seeking professional help, it is essential to remember that these steps can shine light on what can feel like a murky world.
If you need to talk to someone, reach out to the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If you need more guidance in your profession as a medical professional, call the Physician Support line at 1-888-409-0141, and for counseling for frontline workers, text FRONTLINE to 741741. Mental health is still considered a silent disease, and it is a topic that is still not talked about enough. It is surprising to find that more people than you realize are struggling with some form of mental health issue. Know that you are not alone. The more open the discussion, the less it feels like a silent battle.
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*Krucial Rapid Response is not affiliated, endorsed, or sponsored by the apps listed above.