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Opening Up To Others About Your Mental Health

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that tempted you to open up about something incredibly personal, but you hesitated due to the fear of that person’s reaction? Were you worried that telling them would alter their perception of you? Many people experience this feeling as they attempt to determine whether or not to be forthright about their symptoms and their struggle.

If you are considering opening up about your mental health condition, here are some tips.

Deciding Whether You Should Say Anything

Before telling someone, be certain that the decision is right for you. Making a list such as the following can help you determine if the pros outweigh the cons.

Pros:

• The person may be supportive and encouraging.

• The person can help me find the treatment that I need.

• I may gain someone in my life to talk to about what I’m going through.

• I may have a person in my life who can look out for me.

• If a crisis were to happen, I would have someone to call.

Cons:

• The person may be uncomfortable around me after I tell them.

• The person may not want to associate with me after I tell them.

• The person may tell other people that I know, and I could be stigmatized.

Dr. Patrick Corrigan, principal investigator of the Chicago Consortium for Stigma Research and Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the Illinois Institute of Technology, leads the Honest, Open, Proud program, which offers advice for talking about mental health conditions. He encourages people to open up about their mental health condition but to do so in a safe way. “Be a bit conservative about the process,” he says. “Once you’re out, it’s hard to go back in, but the important thing is that the majority of people who come out and tell their story feel more empowered.”

Also consider the potential benefits of telling someone. Perhaps being open would help your loved ones understand why you can’t always spend time with them, or you might ease their concerns by making them more aware of what’s going on in your life. Or maybe you need special accommodations at work or elsewhere. To learn more about accommodations at work, visit www.nami.org/succeeding-at-work

Deciding Whom to Tell

Once you feel confident in your decision to share, you should consider how the person you confide in might react. Think about what kind of relationship you have and whether it’s built on trust. If you still have concerns, try a test conversation. Mention a book or movie that includes mental illness and ask their opinion about it in a context that doesn’t involve you.

Deciding When You Should Tell

Once you feel comfortable about confiding in someone, start to think about when to tell them. It may be important to tell someone to receive help and support before you reach a point of crisis. That way you have a calm environment in which to be open and learn who in your life is most willing and able to help if you need support.

Initiating the Conversation

You have a few different options for telling someone about your mental health. Perhaps scariest is to come out with it without setting up the conversation because you might catch the person off-guard. Another option would be to let the person know in advance that you want to talk about something significant so they can prepare for a serious conversation. Once you have told them that you live with a mental health condition and experience certain symptoms because of it, use examples to help them understand what it’s like. For example, “Everything I do every day, even something simple like taking a shower, is exponentially harder when my symptoms are more serious.”

Share only what you’re comfortable with. Dr. Corrigan states, “You can disclose in steps, start with safe things and see how you feel, and going forward you can choose to disclose more. Anything that’s still traumatizing, you should consider keeping private.”

If someone is supportive and encouraging, let the person know how to help you, such as if you need a ride to an appointment or someone to listen. Tell them that you’ll let them know if you want advice and that you would prefer support rather than counseling.

Refer them to resources to learn more, such as information from NAMI. The more people who talk about their mental health, the more acceptable it will be for people to be more open about the topic. “The best way to change stigma is not education—it’s contact,” says Dr. Corrigan.

Laura Greenstein is communications coordinator at NAMI.

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/January-2017/Opening-Up-to-Others-about-Your-Mental-Health

10 Soothing Self-Care Tips Straight From Therapists

Therapists spend so much time helping other people with their mental health, it kind of begs the question: how do they look after their own?

Like, on the one hand, they’re obviously well-equipped with the mental health know-how to look after themselves, but on the other, spending all day sitting with people and their mental health problems can’t be easy.

To get some answers, BuzzFeed Health asked 10 therapists what self-care means to them. Here’s what they shared:

Cathryn Laverly / Unsplash

1.

I keep thinking about how different self-care would be depending on what therapist you ask.My coworker who has three children to go home to is going to have a different version of self-care than my coworker who runs her own side business on top of a full-time job. For some, self-care means quality time with family, unwinding to mindless television at the end of a long day, planning vacation times, participating in social activities outside of work, all offering a different reward.

For myself, I have always found most of my self-care — my refueling — in more introverted activities. I do my best when I get to listen to meditations that ground me on a daily basis, step out into nature, spend time taking care of my own personal to do list, etc.”

—Beth Rue, MSS, LSW, primary rherapist at Summit Behavioral Health

2.

“I think a lot of helping professionals find it second-nature to guide and support others on their life journeys while we can easily lose ourselves in the mix. What helps me immediately during and after an emotionally challenging day is to use humor to lighten things up for myself. Sometimes that means cracking jokes with colleagues to lessen the stress felt that day, or having a light-hearted and humorous conversation with someone who ‘gets me’ and my sense of humor, or watching a show or film I know I will get a kick out of to make myself laugh. Laughing out loud is a powerful antidote to emotional distress that always helps me lift my spirit.

—Gabriela Parra, LCSW, California-based clinical social worker

HS Lee / Unsplash / Via unsplash.com

3.

“Most important to me is being aware of what’s going on for me at any given time. Being honest with myself about where I am emotionally, and what might make me more sensitive or less objective than usual — what might make me not be able to do my best work. I accept that I am human and may have humanly imperfect reactions to things, but I have to stay on top of them to keep them from getting in the way.

I also like to create a buffer between work and home: taking some time after my sessions just to decompress and clear my mind, even if brief, before I immediately sail into Mom/Wife/Friend mode with the people in my life. And of course, above all, I have to keep taking care of myself: practice what I preach in terms of having hobbies, being active, getting outdoor time, prioritizing sleep (this one can be tough!) and staying social with the people whose company I enjoy.”

Andrea Bonior, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World

4.

“I try to take care of myself physically by going to the gym regularly and exercising. Working out gives me a tremendous boost in how I feel physically and mentally. I also practice what I preach, which is not to compare myself to others. It is important not to project onto other people thoughts that their lives are so much better than my life or that I have am not successful because I have not accomplished what others may have achieved.”

—Marc Romano, PsyD, director of medical services at Delphi Behavioral Health

Autumn Goodman / Unsplash / Via unsplash.com

5.

“Quite similar to self-care for everyone else. A multi-vitamin is incredibly important for self-care for me. Work-wise, mixing my daily tasks with learning and upgrading my skills. Going for an evening walk is really important for me too. I take my child to the park for a run around and then put her in the stroller and do my own walk.”

Alice Boyes, PhD, former clinical psychologist and author of The Anxiety Toolkit

6.

“A go-to for me in order to decompress and recharge is getting out in nature. Nature-therapy, as I like to call it, allows me to be in the moment, check in with myself, connect with the world around me, and get some much needed fresh air. The benefits of spending time in nature are unbe-leaf-able (!) as it is a proven way to calm the mind and body!”

Joanna Boyd, MCP, RCC, Vancouver, Canada-based clinical counsellor

Matt Aunger / Unsplash / Via unsplash.com

7.

“For me, self-care means being fully engaged with a client when we’re together, giving all I can through my attention, care, and planning, and then letting them return to their life when the day is done as I turn my attention back to my own needs. Many years ago I realized that taking my work home stemmed from a lack of trust. I felt I didn’t give enough in the sessions and needed to worry to make up for it. But this wasn’t true. I found that I needed to trust that I’m giving all I can to my clients, trust that they are capable of healthy growth and self-care, and trust in the therapeutic process; that our collaboration is a force for good.

Of course, there are exceptional cases that require work beyond the session, and I often think of my clients when I’m off the clock, but I’m able to enjoy my down time more when I embrace trust. When I have trust in myself, my clients, and therapy, I can pivot to enjoy time with my family, working out, playing in my rock band, and continuing my weekly quest to create the world’s best spaghetti sauce.”

Ryan Howes, PhD, clinical psychologist and professor at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology

8.

“Much of my self-care involves activities that help me to feel calm, strong, and connected – all important things in my line of work. I spend a lot of quiet time in nature, which helps me to slow things down and calm both my body and my mind. I also really love group fitness classes, which help me to feel strong both inside and out, and ready to support my clients through the most challenging of moments. Perhaps most importantly, I spend time with friends and family, with whom I feel loved and supported. When things become difficult or overwhelming, they help me find perspective, sometimes simply with a much needed laugh.”

Amanda Zayde, PsyD, New York City-based clinical psychologist

Alice Hampson / Unsplash / Via unsplash.com

9.

“It’s so important for us to practice what we preach! Namely, having a balanced life that includes time with friends and family, getting a good night’s sleep and eating well, exercising, and doing things just for me (e.g., reading a good summer novel, cheering on my Tennessee Titans games, etc.). It’s also incredibly valuable to have a trusted mentor or two to seek guidance from when things have been particularly stressful.

Simon Rego, PsyD, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine

10.

“I try to practice exactly what I recommend my clients: at least a few minutes of daily mindfulness practice, a daily gratitude minute, regular exercise (like 4-5 times/week), and time with people. There are so many incredible benefits to learning to enter the moment, turn towards the positive, develop a sense of accomplishment, and experience connections.

People do ask me about the difficulty of sitting with people in pain. Of course I empathize and it is hard to hear about how deeply some of my clients are struggling. That said, I find my job to be an opportunity. I totally believe evidence-based tools can change people’s lives so generally feel lucky and hopeful that people are courageous and that the science of psychology has evolved in a significant way.”

Jennifer L. Taitz, PsyD, LA-based clinical psychologist

By the way, if you’re feeling curious about therapy yourself, you can learn more about how to start here, since pretty much everyone can benefit from talking to a professional. For more information on free and affordable mental health care options, check out this guide.

By Anna Borges

https://www.buzzfeed.com/annaborges/therapist-self-care?utm_term=.rsy887jd15#.yo5kk1OXvL

Can Social Media Save A Life?

Trigger Warning: suicide

Like many who have social media accounts, I regularly check my timelines and feeds for intriguing articles, updates and happenings. Two years ago, I was mindlessly scrolling through one of my accounts before going to bed and one post immediately stood out among the rest: It was a suicide note.

Frantically, I read my friend Mark’s post. It detailed his internal suffering over the years, which he no longer wanted to endure. The comment section grew at an alarming rate. People asked questions, both directly to Mark and to each other. Some people were pleading with him to reconsider. Others offered comments of hope.

Over the next few days, I saw something I did not expect. Hundreds of comments on Mark’s post evolved into a community of people coming together to help find Mark, who had gone missing. People used his previous posts on other social media platforms to piece together his possible location. Some contacted the authorities—and thankfully, those authorities located him before he took his life.

Social Media On The Rise

We live in a world driven by technology. We see the media regularly report on new apps for our smartphones and the latest trending celebrity tweets. Whether we’re commuting to work, studying in a coffee shop or spending time with our family and friends, being connected digitally is part of our lives. An entire generation of young people is growing up with devices in their hands, regularly engaging in social media.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2005 only 5% of American adults used at least one social media platform. That number has since grown significantly: Today, 70% of the public uses social media, with many people using more than one platform.

Some researchers are beginning to identify connections between online social networking and mental health concerns. Among these concerns are varying levels of self-esteem and addiction to social media, as well as the internet. However, it is uncertain whether signs and symptoms of mental health conditions are the causes or effects of using social media. Since each platform is different and new platforms continue to be introduced, future research is needed to assess the true effect of social media on mental health.

Identifying Mental Health Concerns Online

When used responsibly, social media can be used in positive ways. It can be used to promote mental health to a large audience. I’ve seen individuals share their personal stories of recovery, like those on NAMI.org at You Are Not Alone and OK2Talk. I’ve seen mental health writers connect with one another on Twitter. And as with my friend Mark, during times of crisis, social media can even save lives.

On platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, users now have options for getting a friend help. If a user thinks a friend is in danger of self-harm or suicide, they can report their concerns by going to the social media websites’ Help Centers. These online Help Centers have dedicated content about suicide and self-harm prevention, which include online resources and phone numbers for suicide hotlines around the world.

The most helpful feature I’ve seen instituted recently is on Instagram. Users can anonymously flag posts by other users that have content about self-harm and suicide. That user then receives a message encouraging them to speak with a friend, contact a helpline or seek professional help. The same message appears for people who are regularly searching self-harm- or suicide-related content on Instagram.

Recent research by the Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Office notes that personal social media accounts “can provide an important window into a person’s state of mind.” At the Secretary of the Army Symposium on Suicide Prevention in mid-January 2017, military leaders, mental health professionals and companies like Google, Facebook and LinkedIn came together to see how social media can be used to connect those in need to care and resources.

How Can I Help?

With social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat dominating our screen time, it’s wise to assume that social media will continue to be a primary method of communication. Therefore, it’s up to us to look out for mental health warning signs while on social media so we are better prepared to assist a friend in need.

If you see any of the following behavior online, it may be time to step in and contact your friend directly to see how you can help:

  • Cyberbullying, which includes:

a. harassing messages or comments

b. fake accounts made to impersonate someone else

c. someone posting unwanted pictures or images of another person

  • Negative statements about themselves, even if it sounds like they are joking, such as

a. “I’m a waste of space.”

b. “No one cares about me.”

c. “I seriously hate myself.”

  • Negative leading statements with little to no context that prompt others to respond, such as:

a. “You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through.”

b. “Today was the worst day ever.”

c. “It’s like everyone is against me.”

If someone you know is in immediate danger—for example, they talk about a specific plan for harming themselves—contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. This lifeline can support the individual and their family members, and has the ability to connect with local law enforcement, if necessary. If a person has attempted self-harm or is injured, call 911 immediately.

If the threat of physical danger is not immediate, here are some things you can do to help:

  • Report the content on the social media website’s Help Center;
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255; or
  • Reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting the word “NAMI” to 741741 (standard data rates may apply).

As you scroll through your social media feeds, be mindful of what others post. Being educated about available resources is important for those of us who promote mental health, but knowing when to reach out to a friend who may be experiencing a mental health crisis is even more important: You just might save a life.

By Ryann Tanap

Ryann Tanap is manager of social media and digital assets at NAMI.

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/September-2017/Can-Social-Media-Save-a-Life

How Do We Get The Men Into Mental Health?

*Trigger Warning*: Suicide

Note: This blog is presented as a cross-collaboration between NAMI and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, whose mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. It originally appeared on the AFSP Lifesavers Blog.

Dude. Dudes. It’s time for some real talk. Let’s get real here and look at the numbers. According to the latest figures from the Center for Disease Control, men are responsible for 76.92 percent of all completed suicides. Basically, about four out of every five completed suicides is a guy.

Yet here in South Carolina, where I’m on the local state board for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, I notice that every time we do a public mental health awareness program, about 80 percent of the attendees are women. A lot of these women show up because they’ve lost a loved one to suicide, and much of the time, the loved one they’ve lost was a man.

The numbers tell us a lot of men out there are suffering…but most men aren’t showing up to get help, raise awareness, or help encourage their fellow bros to talk about what they’re going through.

I’d like to ask all the women reading this blog post to leave the room for a minute.

Are they gone? Cool. Dudes, it’s just us now. Let’s talk.

I’ll start.

I lost two brothers to suicide. That’s right. Two. 11 years apart. Mark and Matthew. After the second one, I found myself in a very dark place. Sobriety, counseling, and time have helped me immensely, and in 2010 I started to volunteer for AFSP, and this has accelerated my recovery even further. It has taken me years to get to this point, but when you start helping other survivors of suicide loss and start focusing on preventing future occurrences of completed suicides, you ultimately end up helping yourself. My work with AFSP has benefited me greatly on a personal level, but I am still very bothered by what is happening with men and suicide.

So, I’m going to turn this around on you now, and ask for your help. First, a couple questions:

  • Why is the number for male suicide so high?
  • How do we lower it?

I personally think the first step is for us dudes to become more comfortable talking about it. How can we get our fellow men to open up? First of all, let’s realize that when we show vulnerability, we are actually showing strength. We need to focus on forming some really tight connections with each other. Once those are in place, we need to get comfortable sharing real life situations, knowing full well that two (or more) brains are better than one. How do we get our other dude buddies to feel comfortable doing this?

For me, I am involved in a faith-based, men’s-only group that meets every Friday. We in the group have grown together to a place where we are quite comfortable admitting to each other when we’re screw ups, or when we’re worried about something…but that has taken some time. That’s just one example. I saw recently that the construction industry is including mental health into their meetings, and the NCAA is addressing mental health issues through their Sport Science Institute. Progress!

Maybe another tactic is to keep things light. One thing I’m thinking about doing is hosting a men’s only comedy night with a mental health theme. Laughter helps people feel relaxed. Maybe if we guys can sit around, talk about feelings – I know, a lot of us hate that word—in a light way, it can help us become more comfortable opening up.

Another thought I had in terms of encouraging our fellow men to join our efforts in suicide prevention is to not make it too time consuming. Men tend to volunteer in spurts. We’ll do a golf outing, but mention a three-year commitment to a board and most of us are out the door. It’s important to remember that we can all get involved within the constraints of our own personal comfort zone. Every little bit helps. Dip your toe in the pool. The water’s warm.

No matter what strategies we use, the overall message is simple: mental health and suicide are okay to talk about, and we all matter. Talk Saves Lives.

So, what are your thoughts? If you’re a guy and have been impacted by mental health conditions or possibly a suicide attempt or a loss, reach out for help, or come help us at AFSP. Get off your duff and find your local chapter and volunteer for something — anything! Even just making a point to talk matter-of-factly about mental health and feelings (jeez, that word again!) with your friends makes a difference, because it lets them know you’re a safe person to talk to when they have something to say.

Women – I can see you’ve stepped back in, now, that’s okay – do what you can to drag the men in your life to a community walk, a survivor’s meeting, or somewhere you feel they can benefit from, but might not feel comfortable going to themselves. Many of us will not do it without your help.

Finally, think about ways we can better reach men about suicide prevention, and share your ideas. Come at us with all you’ve got. If we want to lower the suicide rate 20 percent by 2025, we’ve got to put the men back into mental health.

By Dennis Gillan | Sep. 08, 2017

9 Signs You Should Break Up with Your Therapist

But let’s say, for example, you picked your therapist while you were in the midst of a crisis and now you feel like you’re too far into your treatment to leave. Or maybe you’ve gone a few times but you’re not really sure that you’re getting what you need from the interaction.

There are many reasons people find themselves in an established relationship with the wrong therapist or seeing someone they’ve outgrown. We asked experts for red flags that indicate you need to break up with your therapist and find a new one. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Your therapist fell asleep on you

Believe it or not, this actually happens.

“I have had more people than I can count come to my office and tell me that they’re coming because their previous therapist fell asleep,” Chloe Carmichael, a clinical psychologist based in New York City, told The Huffington Post. “And they’ve told me that it’s happened more than once.”

If your therapist ever falls asleep on you in session, take that as a sign that he or she is not fit to be working with patients and you should find someone new.

2. You feel like your therapist doesn’t support your goals

It is important that you feel supported. Carmichael gives the example of a troubled relationship: If your therapist thinks you should break up with your partner but you are seeking help to repair the relationship, have a conversation with your therapist about this, she advises.

“I would encourage the person to say, ‘I want to clarify if we should continue working together, because I want to clarify that we have the same goals. I want to stay with my boyfriend and sometimes I feel like you want me to break up with him. Is that true?’” Carmichael said.

This kind of conversation provides the opportunity to see if you and your therapist see eye-to-eye, learn about potential red flags he or she might be noticing and agree about the direction in which your life is going.

“You do not want to be with somebody who comes across as judgmental,” agreed Liana Georgoulis, a clinical psychologist and director of Coast Psychological Services in Los Angeles.

On the other hand, sometimes you won’t always hear what you want to hear, Georgoulis said. The right therapist won’t always agree with you. And, of course, any therapist has a responsibility to intervene if you’re in an abusive or otherwise dangerous situation.

3. The therapist claims he or she is an expert in every condition

Beware of therapists who say they’re able to help with everything or market themselves as a “Jack of all trades.”

Many therapists know which conditions they can help with, and also where they can’t, Carmichael notes. A good therapist will refer you to someone else if your condition falls out of his or her scope.

4. You’re not sure why you are in therapy

Therapy can provide tools for coping with everyday stress or a mental health condition. Make sure you are working with your therapist toward mutually agreed-upon and clearly defined goals.

“Sometimes there might be differences in what that work is or how to get there,” Georgoulis said. But ask the professional you’re seeing to outline the treatment plan so you have a good sense of what it is you’re doing together.

5. Your therapist needs reminders

You should not feel like you need to brief your therapist on events or facts you’ve already covered in previous weeks.

“If that happens every session, that might be a sign that you want to get a therapist that’s more organized or more attentive,” Carmichael said. “You shouldn’t have to lead the therapist.”

6. You don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere

Let’s say you went into therapy for anxiety and you’ve learned tools to help you cope better each day. So rather than talk about anxiety, you bring up other issues that you need help working out. But session after session, you just don’t see any progress in these areas.

“Sometimes you’ve just gone as far up the mountain as you can with somebody, and it’s justifiably time to say goodbye,” Carmichael said.

Georgoulis agrees. If you’ve been in therapy for a long time but the needle hasn’t moved on certain issues, bring this up to your therapist. If you are still in pain, or not feeling good, it may serve you to find another person to talk to, she said.

7. You know too much about your therapist’s life

When therapists tell patients information about their own lives to make a point or illustrate an idea, it’s called disclosure. Researchers have been debating where the line is when it comes to this technique for ages ― even Sigmund Freud grappled with it, The New York Times reported.

Here’s how Carmichael suggests approaching it: If the therapist is telling you things about his or her own life for an obvious reason and it feels helpful, it’s probably fine. But if you can’t figure out why the therapist is sharing certain stories, or if he or she is taking up your valuable therapeutic time, it could be an indicator that this therapist is not the right fit.

Carmichael suggests finding a therapist who expresses him or herself quickly and distinctly during your time together.

“There’s not room for long winded answers,” she said.

8. You go to therapy just to vent

A core component of good therapy is the therapist’s ability to connect a patient’s thoughts, find patterns and then trace it all back to concrete changes in thinking, Georgoulis said.

“If a therapist is just letting you come in and ‘vent’ each week, that’s not a good sign,” she said.

Find a therapist who does more than just make you feel better in the moment or provide advice for particular situations.

9. You feel good after every session

“There’s a misconception, I think, that people are supposed to walk away from a therapy session feeling great and I don’t think that’s true,” Georgoulis said. “The work is hard and sometimes you leave therapy sessions feeling challenged or drained. Stuff gets stirred up.”

If you are always leaving therapy feeling like everything is perfect, Georgoulis urges you to ask yourself if you are truly doing the work. It could be a sign that you need a different therapist who can help you process challenging emotions.

So, what should you do?

Both experts say the best route to securing the right therapist from the outset is to interview several of them, be straightforward about why you need counseling and ask about specific treatment methods he or she uses.

Bottom line, there are many excellent reasons to go to therapy. But once you’re there, consider if the therapist is really the right fit for you. If it’s not the right match, do what you need to do to find the right person.

It’s worth it.

Therapists work for you. Read these signs to determine if you need to “shop around” a bit more to get the help that you deserve!http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/signs-you-should-break-up-therapist_us_58ed18f0e4b0ca64d919dd01?utm_hp_ref=mental-health

Your Mental Health Is Just As Important As Your Physical Health

Your Mental Health Is Just As Important As Your Physical Health

A new year means New Year’s Resolutions.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

The three most popular resolutions are to lose weight, get organized, and spend less/save more. No big surprises there. Come January, most of us are ready to hit the gym. We’ve put on a few pounds over the holidays or just lazed around the house for the past couple of weeks. I’m feeling a bit like a slug myself. It’s time to get our bodies healthy!

And if you struggle with organizing  your time, space, and finances, it’s wise to get things in order and stick to a budget. These are all valuable pursuits.

But what about your mental health?

In my opinion, your mental health is just as important as your physical health.  Do your New Year’s resolutions ever include getting yourself mentally  healthy?

Mental health matters. If you don’t attend to your mental and emotional needs, your quality of life suffers; your work suffers; your relationships suffer; your physical health suffers.

Mental health is easy to take for granted. It’s not like a broken arm or a heart attack. There’s nothing visible to alert you that your mental health is suffering. Of course, there are signs, but you have to be paying attention. In fact, often people don’t recognize their mental health problems until they manifest as physical symptoms.

Common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress often show up as physical health problems, including headaches, fatigue, muscle tension, stomach aches, heart burn, heart palpitations, changes in appetite, or trouble sleeping.

Often we try to deny our emotions and mental health problems. Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma that makes it hard for many of us to acknowledge and seek help for these issues. Sometimes we have a hard time accepting our own emotional pain, fearing it’s a weakness, and instead we push it down, drown it in food, drink, or other compulsions.

Practice preventive mental health care

We all know the importance of preventative healthcare. You probably get a physical exam and some blood work every year or two to make sure your body is functioning properly. Unfortunately, most people don’t take the same approach with their mental health. Rarely do people go to a therapist as a preventative measure or talk to their primary care doctor about their emotional well-being. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are also many ways you can practice preventative mental health care on your own.

How can yoResolve to Improve Your Mental Health, New Years Resolution to focus on emotional health and wellnessu resolve to improve your mental health?

  • Get enough sleep
  • Pay attention to your feelings
  • Spend time in nature
  • Pursue a hobby
  • Laugh often
  • Grieve your loses
  • Accept yourself, imperfections and all
  • Only try to change yourself, not others
  • Ask for help; you’re not superman or superwoman
  • Spend less time in front of electronics
  • Connect with friends and family
  • Try to do things because you want to, not out of obligation
  • Practice gratitude daily
  • Express your feelings
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Exercise
  • Remember it’s healthy to say “no” sometimes
  • Forgive yourself when you screw up
  • Limit alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs
  • Spend some time alone
  • Get to know yourself
  • Listen to your instincts
  • See a therapist
  • Practice deep, calming breathing
  • If you’ve been prescribed psychiatric medications, take them as prescribed

Your mental health is essential. All positive change is built one small bit at a time. Choose one way to prioritize your mental health and practice it until it’s a way of life. The pay off will be worth it.

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/imperfect/2016/12/your-mental-health-is-just-as-important-as-your-physical-health/