6 Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health

You can go on any social media website and somewhere among the timeline posts there’s one about mental health. Some are centered around individual self-care and others around the awareness of different illnesses (both for people experiencing it and their closest allies). The overwhelming amount of attention brought to it can make it seem “trendy”, which means one could expect that in a couple years it will no longer be relevant (to the mainstream, that is).

But if natural hair, #ListenToBlackWomen, #BlackGirlMagic, #BlackLivesMatter, & #BlackBoyJoy are any indication of a shift, then it’s not a trend. Awareness will continue to grow and the charges to create brave spaces that challenge us to get in the habit of showing up for ourselves and others will deepen.

There is an awakening, a reclaiming of time as well as energy, a re-wiring of perspectives, and an overall debunking of narratives that speak truth to power about our existence, starting with mental health. I’d like to take a moment to pay homage to the various communities across the world who have prioritized mental health for centuries. They’ve paved the way as the Western part of the world, specifically the United States of America, catches up and, in some communities, returns to this practice.

So, DOY community, I pose this question to you: In a time filled with a surplus of information, how do you not only prioritize your mental health, but also check-in on the mental health of the people around you?

I’ve listed some of my internal reminders and would love to hear how you stay mindful.

1) If I am not giving to myself, then I can’t honestly give to others.
Your classic case of not practicing what you preach. TLC starts, is refined, and has room to evolve at home first. This includes being kind to myself when I forget to check in with me, am stressed, get overwhelmed, etc. Take it day by day, but be intentional.

2) Small wins add up to big victories.
Don’t get so caught up in getting from A to Z that you lose sight of reaching B, then C, then D. Every step forward moves me towards my end goal, so it counts.

3) Visualize it.
Through journaling, drawing, painting, vision-boarding, etc. Fleshing out your goals, growth, concerns, and questions does wonders for clearing your mind, keeping you grounded, sharing and articulating your thoughts.

4) Do something that makes you happy/keeps you open.
We all have things we want to do, but can never “find time” to. I implore you to make time. In doing so, try something that makes you take a risk and might even add years to your life. Something that keeps you open to the human experience, puts you in a routine of giving, loving, and sharing, and deepens life.

For example, try community service, yoga, hiking, learn a new skill, start a garden, shift your perspective, and so much more.

5) Surround yourself with growth partners.
These are people who help keep you accountable, they affirm you and your growth, they are empathetic, and use insight to apply wisdom in creating space for you to vent and problem solve with you. One of the greatest things about having growth partners is that they are at different levels in their mental health awareness journey so there’s a give and take. Reciprocity is an important element in this partnership.

6) Create pauses in your day.
We often hear this in reference to smelling the roses and that’s super important. Making time to be in tune with the elements around you keeps you connected to the world on a molecular level. But this also serves as a reminder to pause and interact with someone else meaningfully. If you ask someone, “How are you?” - mean it. Wait for the answer, don’t judge, and even if you don’t how to respond thank them for sharing with you. Trust has been established and should be honored.

Although I have established these internal reminders I am still a work in practice. But I am getting better at self-healing and making purposeful choices. You can too.

Remember, you can’t draw from an empty source, so fill up, love.

Photo Credit: Quentin Keller