Mental health, which was previously a taboo, is now more openly talked about in society. People seek help for a wide variety of issues such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD from reputed therapists.
But what about regular people like you and me, who aren't suffering from a mental disorder, but still could work on being more mentally healthy?
Think about this from the point of view of your physical health. Maybe you don't have the flu or a heart condition or a terminal illness, but at the same time sitting at home lounging around on your couch isn't exactly the peak of physical fitness. To improve, you'll need to eat healthier, drink more water, and do cardio. Think of this article as mental cardio.
As an AP Psychology student, I have learned so much about the importance of mental health and how a lack of self-confidence and positive action can hold someone back from reaching their full potential. After researching many methods to improve self-esteem, find motivation, and improve relationships, I have written down a few steps that everyone can take to improve their own mental health on an everyday basis.
These steps aren't the "drink lots of water" of physical health tips, but will help you change how you think about yourself and the situations you are in to have a more positive outlook on life and take definitive action towards solving the problems you have to deal with.
1. The first step to improving self-esteem is befriending yourself
Wow, that was, without a doubt, the most cliche sentence I have written. It is true, though. Being your own friend doesn't mean that you have to be a loner and talk to yourself. Being your own friend means looking out for yourself, like you would for any of your other friends. Doing this helps you reaffirm who you are as a person and what you stand for, and also prevents you from making bad decisions that will prove unhealthy in the future.
For example, if you are upset about not getting into a college and start to believe it is because you are incompetent and worthless, think about how you'd talk to your friend if he or she was going through the same thing. Would you tell them that they should just give up trying because they didn't get in? Or would you say something more along the lines of, "They lost a good one. But now, you need to look at what you can accomplish at the school you're going to. Your dreams and ambitions shouldn't be discarded just because of this result". Just understanding how you'd treat someone else in the same situation is immensely eye-opening and prevents you from hurting your self-worth.
Remember that as humans, we are much harsher on ourselves than we are to other people. So anytime you find yourself going down the rabbit hole of comparison, dejection, or general discontent, try this technique out!
2. Choose what you care about carefully
I first came across this idea in a book titled "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck". In this book, author Mark Manson heavily emphasizes the need to choose what you give your emotions to in order to prevent emotional exhaustion. We tend to get worked up about things that truly do not matter in the long run and will not affect us. This drains us emotionally and prevents us from being able to achieve goals that really do matter because we are simply too exhausted from being emotional over trivial things.
For example, people become upset about a bus running ten minutes late, or their favorite Starbucks drink being sold out. These occurrences are just daily happenings and should not result in us fuming or becoming upset. Getting over small disappointments is a part of life and it helps to evaluate how much importance this event truly has in your life. Deciding to care about things that matter more, such as family, friends, and work shows maturity and helps you prioritize your life instead of playing an emotional tug-of-war with everything and everyone.
3. Cut off anything draining your energy or creating negativity
Have you ever met a person so positive and charismatic that you are instantly drawn to them? Hearing them talk about their goals and what interests them makes you feel eager to pursue what drives you as well, and the relationship is uplifting and betters you as a person.
Now, think of the people that are the exact opposite. Do you feel like you cannot be yourself around them? Do you feel like a cloud is raining on you all day, that they are draining you of positive energy and making you feel like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh?
Now I love Eeyore as much as the next Disney freak, but if you are feeling like him on a permanent basis, there's something sapping you, sis.
That something sapping you may be as simple as scrolling through social media or a certain person in your life, but you need to get rid of it. It's hurting you from reaching your full potential, and preventing you from being your best self. Seek out people in the first category, people that match your vibe and make you excited about what you're going to accomplish. Surrounding yourself with those that uplift you will lead to you not only feeling more wholesome and positive, but will lead to you uplifting others, continuing the chain.
Empowering yourself is understanding who you are and loving yourself for your positive qualities while working on what you're, uh, not so good at. Taking steps to improve your mental health are beneficial to your personal and professional goals, and spending time on yourself will truly get you to where you need to be, a.k.a Your Best Self.