What is Mental Health?
This has become a common question. When most people think about mental health the first thoughts are straitjackets and that it affects a small number of people. Because mental health consists of our emotional, psychological, and social well-being many people may encounter it from childhood through adulthood. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Most importantly it determines how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
Mental Health summed up in my opinion is, it’s not what you’re going through, it’s what you do while going through it. There are many ways that we can maintain our mental health if or when it occurs in our lives.
Here are some things you can do to maintain and balance your mental health:
Track your habits and behaviors
As far as I know we develop habits at an early age. Just about everything is for a set time. This causes habits. For instance, we eat, sleep, play, watch television, go to school or work at about the same time every day. In between those daily activities, we develop other habits that can be good or bad for our well-being. So, tracking your habits and behaviors can be a great way to determine those to keep and the ones to stop.
One way to track your habits and behaviors is to write down your daily routines. Then make two columns on a piece of paper.
Mark the sections: Good and Bad.
Now list your habits and behaviors in the prospective section. Easy? Of course! Who else can make this list for you? You’re the only person that knows what you do, day in and day out. So, get into the habit of tracking and figuring out what is good or not.
Keeping a log of your good habits will improve your motivation and ability to complete those habits each day.
Having goals gives us a sense of meaning and purpose. Many people have dreams which are good for your overall happiness. Our goals will point us in the direction we want to go. You will grow and become interested and engaged in your daily life. Here are some things to consider before setting your goals.
- Here is the time to think as big as you can about what you want to do with your life. NO LIMITS! It’s your life! Decide how you want to live it.
Write it down
When you write out your dreams and visions for your life, you increase the chances of fulfilling them. You will also know when you have reached your goals and how you achieved them. Be able to describe your goals in specific terms and times, for example, ‘I want to write a book by the end of the year’, instead of, ‘I want to write a book.’
By telling someone about your goals you are more likely to execute them. Since you will have someone that will hold you accountable if you don’t achieve what you said you wanted to. It also can be helpful to take pictures and document the little victories.
Break your goal down
Someone once said, “You can eat an elephant! By taking small bites at a time.” Sounds impossible? Nope. Sometimes we have goals so big we need to break it down into sections. You may want to eat healthier.
So, having several smaller goals makes it easier and gives us a feeling of success along the way. Some smaller goals might be, drinking 8 glasses of water daily. Write down your smaller goals and try to set some dates to do these by too.
Plan your first step
Where do you start? Just do it! Even if you don’t know where to start, there’s always a way. We are in the information age, therefore, take a step to ask someone, getting a book, or looking it up. Just don’t sit there doing anything. Just thinking about the first step on the way will really help to get you started. Then think of your next step…and next…
You will run into obstacles and become frustrated working towards your goals, so be mindful that you must not quit. If something you’re doing isn’t working, think of something else you could try that still moves you forward. If you’re struggling, seek out advice from people you know on what you could do. They may help you see a different way.
There should always be a reason to celebrate. Let it be your achieved goals. Take time to enjoy your accomplishments and thank those that helped you. Think about what you enjoyed and learned along the way.
Now, what is your next goal or project going to be?
There are many benefits of journaling. It does not matter if you journal every day, weekly, monthly or at the end of the year, you will find it beneficial. This is where you get to clarify your thoughts, feelings, and situations thereby acquiring valuable self-knowledge.
You can use them as a means of a problem-solving tool; oftentimes, we can figure out solutions to problems more easily on paper.
Journaling about events that may have shifted your mental stability helps one process them by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved, and by engaging both hemispheres of the brain in the process, allowing the experience to become fully integrated within one’s mind.
Journaling can also help you to focus on areas of your life that you’re like to focus on more often, as is the case with gratitude journaling or even coincidence journaling.
Set up a gratitude log
I saved the best for last! While there are many negative things to think about, there are countless things to be grateful for. Gratitude is the single most powerful thing you can do to shape a more positive day. Your log can be set up to list things from being grateful for waking up to that small piece of chocolate you get on your pillow at a 5-star hotel. This is so easy. You can use sticky notes, small index cards, a small notebook or you can get fancy with a leather journal engraved with your name. Either way, I feel this is one of the best ways to maintain your mental health.
Throughout your life you will deal with many bouts of depression and anxiety, but whenever you manage to switch your thoughts, think about what you’re thankful for. You will instantly perk up because of the way gratitude makes you feel.
This gratitude log can go two ways. I know you can think of many times where someone thanked you, if so, jot them down as well. Keep thinking about happy things and pay attention to your mood.