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  • Writer's pictureTania Cucciniello

Reader’s Poll Series Topic 4: Prioritizing Mental Health

Understanding the importance of good mental health

In recent years, the spotlight has been on mental health more and more. This is good because mental health includes how we function mentally, emotionally, socially and behaviorally- which is the way one conducts themselves towards oneself and others. It is, at heart, the quality of our lifestyle and interactions. This is especially important to understand because it can explain the reasons why someone reacts a certain way to a certain situation.

For instance, if someone is mentally centered and aligned their behaviors will be positive such as active, ambitious, creative and logical. On the other hand, if someone is not mentally centered, this can lead to behaviors such as lethargy, irritability, passive-aggressiveness, anger, and even behaviors of depression.

Behavioral characteristics of depression include a constant low mood, sadness, low self-esteem, decreased focus and low motivation. This is often due to stress from work and life events, which leave the individual feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. When broken down as such, it is obvious why an individual begins to act emotionally, so they must know that it is totally okay! Often, those with behaviors of depression think that their negative mentality is a personal failure, but this is just a negative perception. Our emotions are complex and complicated to understand; therefore, talking to someone or taking the time to put yourself first is encouraged.

Prioritizing mental health

Prioritizing your mental health means you’re prioritizing your life. You’re acknowledging that your mental and emotional state is something more important than other items or activities. You’re acknowledging that you must arrange time to realign your mental health before dealing with a series of items or tasks because you have realized the importance or the urgency of persevering your health and well-being.

Setting aside time to put yourself first is necessary and beneficial for long-term health and happiness. At this moment, I will share with you what you can do during your moments of recovery. Furthermore, I will share with you my best tip on how to make sure you absolutely have this time to yourself daily, without interruption, making it a healthy lifestyle habit.

Excellent ways to use your time in order to optimize your mental state:

1. Get moving: Set aside time to be active. Physical exercise releases endorphins, the natural feel-good hormones of our bodies. Start small like with yin yoga, Pilates, or walking outdoors.

2. Prepare healthy foods: Make time to cook. Avoid buying already-made, processed foods and salty/sugary snacks for the home. These foods have little to no nutrients and can leave you feeling tired. Instead opt to make your own fresh cut fruits and vegetables ready to snack on; they are packed with vitamins and nutrients that will boost your energy. Prepping and cooking your own meals is a healthy way to put time aside for yourself in order to plan what will be going inside your body.

3. Breathing and meditation exercises: Setting aside time to practice breathing exercises is an important tool. Paying attention to our inhale and exhale cycles for a scheduled amount of time is known to reduce stress on the body and mind, which promotes relaxation and mindfulness, bringing us back to the present moment.

4. Keep a journal: Take time to write. If you don’t envision talking to someone or asking for help, taking some time to write down your thoughts, feelings or emotions is an excellent way to map things out yourself. Writing can be incredibly therapeutic and productive. It can make you understand how you’re truly feeling, what triggered it and how to resolve the problem.

And finally, my finest tip on how to make sure you absolutely have this time to yourself daily:

5. Schedule it in your calendar: I’ve given this tip for developing other healthy habits and it works! The best approach is to block off the same time of day, 5-7 days a week, in your phone’s calendar because we’re on our phones the most. The same time every day works because you will know exactly when you will get a notification, then you can start to prepare yourself for your down time; and you can mark yourself as busy so others won’t interrupt. Setting aside a determined time frame is important but it must also be firm and immovable! Being bold in making this decision is a trustworthy way to develop mental healthy priority schedule.

What are the benefits of prioritizing?

When our mental health is not what we would want it to be, we may find it difficult to focus and manage how to act with respect to daily stress. Prioritizing continuous, prearranged episodes of mental health recovery improves the mind’s ability to do so. The health benefits include:

  • reduced stress and increased productivity.

  • more time to relax.

  • avoids behaviors of depression.

  • keeps you accountable, consistent and motivated.

What are some signs of good mental health?

Once you develop a routine, you may start to notice the positive effects it’s having on your mental health, such as:

  • the ability to focus again.

  • the ability to feel and express a range of emotions, both positive and negative.

  • the ability to form and maintain good social skills once again.

  • the ability to cope with and manage sudden change.

  • the ability to be motivated again.

Other ways to improve your mental health include drinking lots of water, as dehydration also recreates feelings of depression, such as poor mood, dizziness, decreased alertness and fatigue.

Get some bodywork done, such as massage therapy, reiki, acupuncture or osteopathy. Symptoms such as muscle aches and pains, inflammation and low levels of flexibility can leave us feeling irritable and discouraged. Easing these symptoms through the powerful healing of touch will decrease pain, promote relaxation and increase our sense of calm.

Once again, spending time outdoors, going for walks daily and practicing breath work are all simple, yet effective ways to improve your mental health.

These tips are some of the most recommended steps to take, by many health professionals, in beginning a journey to mental health because they work. You can develop a well-being routine, recharge your energy and fill up your cup first before tackling your day. Most importantly, knowing you can do this guilt-free because it is perfectly okay and accepted in modern times.

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