We Need to Focus More on Mental Health
In this moment, how do you feel?
Are you happy? Sad? Stressed out? Do you ever stop and take time to check your emotional pulse?
I’m going to go ahead and assume most people don’t do this often enough. Unfortunately, we let other, more “pressing” issues take priority over our mental and emotional health.
I’ve always found this fascinating. Why does society focus so much on physical health when our mental stability is easily just as (or more) important? You don’t have to look that hard to find tips, routines, and exercises to get you moving throughout the day.
Do you work at a 9-to-5 desk job? Don’t forget to get up and take a walk periodically throughout your day. Looking for more energy? 20–30 minutes of physical activity can give you the boost you need.
These are great, but where are all of the suggestions for better mental health?
Yes, we sometimes hear the benefits of introspection, from meditation to journaling, but for some strange reason, people don’t seem to get it.
Much like your physical health, the benefits that come from investing in your mental health aren’t just in first-order, immediate results. Good mental habits can create secondary, more long-term advantages that can serve us greatly down the road.
For example, how many of you are overstressed, either from work or other external pressures? How do you currently manage this stress? I’m going to assume the majority of you would probably answer with some sort of physical activity like lifting, running, or yoga.
For those of us disciplined enough to create and sustain a daily routine, these physical exercises usually take precedence over any other type of activity.
As beneficial as these are, they’re only a single piece to the overall puzzle that is your health. In order to give yourself a better overall chance at health and happiness in the future, consider adding any of the following activities to your daily routine:
- Meditation — It doesn’t matter how you do it — all that matters is that you actually commit to it. From guided meditation to simply sitting alone in silence, introspection can help provide more clarity in your life while keeping you more calm and balanced throughout the day.
- Journaling — If you ask me, I think writing should become a fundamental part of everyone’s day. For those of you out there who aren’t as comfortable sharing their thoughts through writing, journaling is a great way to practice this skill, sort through your own thoughts, and find answers to the questions that keep you up at night.
- Talking — I’ll be completely honest, I’ve never gone through therapy, but I after talking through specific issues with certain friends, I can definitely imagine the benefits of dissecting personal issues with a healthy dose of objectivity. It’s up to you to decide the best person to talk to and how often, but the main thing is creating a safe environment where radical transparency is encouraged.
- Yoga — This is one of those activities that can easily fall under physical and mental wellness. Personally, I would consider yoga to be a more physical form of guided meditation (if you are taking a class or following a video). Like many other important habits, taking a class or finding a partner can provide much-need accountability.
- Art — There plenty of moments in life when words may not come easily. In these cases, I’ve found drawing, doodling, sketching, painting, or any other form of visual art to be extremely helpful when exploring my own thoughts and feelings. Like writing, art doesn’t always have to be for someone else. You can simply create a piece of artwork for yourself and leave it at that.
- Music — In the same vein as art, music can provide a very useful, non-verbal release for your thoughts. The best part is you don’t have to be a musician to benefit from music. Simply listening to music can help you manage your emotions and explore your feelings.
These are only a few suggestions for improving your mental health each and every day. For me, that act of writing, both for myself and others, has given me mental clarity, the ability to sort through my own thoughts, and the chance to connect with other like-minded people from all over the world.
In the end, create a routine that works best for you. Not a morning person? Don’t sweat it. Instead of forcing yourself to live within someone else’s standards, try practicing one of the above activities later on in your day, or even wait until you have some alone time in the evening.
As hard as it might be to make these changes now, you will undoubtedly thank yourself later. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next week. But one day in the future, you’ll realize how happy you are and how much of a difference one simple change made in your life.