Establishing Healthy Habits to Manage Mental Health

Do you believe that everything good in life is worth working for? I do. I believe in the power of hard work and dedication. I’ve seen how far both my hard work and dedication can take me. 

Last month, as the year was coming to an end I took some time (as I do every year end) to reflect on my wins and losses throughout the year. During my time of reflection, I came across this quote by Leah Labelle, “Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to.” This really resonated with me. During my time of reflection, I noticed the one area that took the biggest hit and needed the most work, was my mental health. 

I have struggled with depression and anxiety since childhood. The battle within my mind is nothing short of frustrating. However, on the surface I appear to be successful in all (or most of all) areas in my life. I have a stable job and career. I make good money. I wear nice clothes. I’m well educated. I would not have been able to obtain/achieve these things without hard work and a plan. If I can apply hard work, effort, and dedication to my wins, why can’t I apply those same principles to my brain health? Labelle’s quote, let me know that I can absolutely apply those same principles to my mental health. That led me to do some research on how planning and establishing healthy habits can improve my mental health. 

I have since incorporated some key healthy habits into my life to help me manage my overall mental health and wellness, daily. Here are five healthy habits you can establish to manage your mental health: 

 Pursue a Passion

Figure out what makes you happy and do exactly that. I love coloring, reading, and hiking. If you really love cooking, take a class. If you’ve always wanted to try knitting, find a video or read a book to learn. Giving yourself something to look forward to can help support brain health and wellness. 

Quiet your mind

It can be really hard to pull out of a negative spiral once you’ve fallen into it. The best way to quiet your mind is to be preventive in your approach. Before stress or worry even hit, try engaging in mindfulness activities that help quiet the thoughts that are in your head. I like to brain dump Every. Single. Thing. That’s. In. My. Head. I do this by bullet journaling or simply talking into the voice recorder on my phone.Not only does this free up some mental space but it will also help you take a real good look at your thoughts. Most of the time, the thoughts that cause worry, anxiety, and depression are not realistic. Looking at those thoughts on paper (or hearing them out loud) can help you stay grounded in reality.  

 Engage with Positive People

Surround yourself with the best people for you. Having a strong support system or community is so important in protecting your mental health. Your day-to-day interactions with others plays a huge role in your ability to self-regulate. When you’re surrounded by constant negativity and pessimism, you tend to internalize those things. On the flip side, when you’re constantly around positivity, you vibe higher and your energy is clear. Plan activities with supportive family members or friends. Join a community or support group (online or in real life) where you can be an active member and make new friends. 

Give Yourself Credit

As someone who practices mindfulness I like to take a moment at the end of each day to document and consciously acknowledge everything I did (no matter how small). Giving yourself credit for the things you do will help you practice self-gratitude and will allow you to recognize when you need to slow down, practice self-care, or start establishing some boundaries! If you are constantly on auto-pilot and need to start being more mindful of how you are using your energy, I encourage you to start writing a “things I did” list at the end of the day. 

Practice self-care 

Self-care is all about tapping into what you need and honoring that. Exercise, healthy eating, proper sleep, meditation, and affirmations, are all forms of self-care. Thinking preventatively, creating habits around those practices can be beneficial. The more you practice self-care the easier it is to do, especially when you need it the most like when you are experiencing a depressive episode. Finding and regularly seeing a trained professional is also a form of self-care. Really consider what you need in order to best care for yourself and make a plan to delve into those things. 

Creating healthy habits to manage your mental health is definitely preventative in nature. Instead of asking, “What can I do when something goes wrong,” we should be asking, “What can I do to prevent this from happening.” 

Which of the 5 healthy habits will you incorporate? Want to join the conversation? Join our members-only online community to get instant access to our safe, private message boards.

Mental wellness is an ever evolving, courageous journey that is yours and yours alone. Own it.

- Regina Renaye

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