So, in case you missed the memo, October 10 is recognized as World Mental Health Day. Seeing as this day is quickly approaching, I thought I would reflect on all of the things that I've done this past year to better my mental health. I have been struggling with an eating disorder, and have also been struggling with really bad anxiety that stemmed from dealing with PTSD.
Even though I've struggled with these mental health challenges, I have managed to keep a relatively stable mentality throughout all of this. I've learned a lot about what good self-care should look like. Here is a list of ten things that I have done for myself this past year to take better care of my mental health.
1. Unfollowed 'energy vampires' on all social media platforms
This one might need a little explaining, so bear with me. An energy vampire is basically anyone who comes into your life and drains you of your positive energy. (Or, any energy in general, for that matter.) I've been unlucky enough, as I'm sure you have as well, to meet several of these energy vampires in real life. I've decided this past year to unfollow any and all energy vampires on all of my forms of social media, and you should, too.
Life is too short to expend any extra energy on perpetually negative people.
2. Practiced the art of radical acceptance
Radical acceptance is therapy talk for "it is what it is." Essentially, practicing radical acceptance in certain situations frees you from having to constantly (and, sometimes obsessively), worry about what the outcome of a certain situation will be. This, in turn, frees up your mind to focus on other things.
3. Changed my self-talk from negative to somewhat positive
So, even though we all might not have an inner monologue constantly running through our minds, chances are, we all practice self-talk from time to time. Well, my self-talk used to be super negative, and I was constantly beating myself up for things that had gone wrong in my life. Over this past year, I've slowly started to turn this negative self-talk around and get that to a more positive and less self-deprecating place.
4. Started meditating
Yes, this might sound all hippy-dippy, but meditation, even if it's just for five minutes every other day, seriously does wonders for your mental health. I used to laugh it off and joke about people who meditated, but, after trying it for myself consistently, I've really started to notice a better mental focus and clarity. Who doesn't love being able to think more calmly and clearly about things?
5. Started finding small moments of mindfulness
The practice of mindfulness is another therapy trick I've learned. It basically is a fancy way of saying "what is happening in my life right here, right now?" and for embracing whatever that might be — good, bad, or otherwise. This can be super challenging at times, but, we all know that life isn't all sunshine and roses all the time.
6. Stopped eating junk food
This one might be hard to fathom, but, ever since my recent battle with anorexia, I've started really paying attention to what I choose to put in my body. By no means am I suggesting that an eating disorder is a way to go. But, my eating disorder taught me a lot about my flawed relationship with food, and I've noticed that my body has felt better overall once I, (for the most part), kicked those old junk food habits that I used to have.
7. Started obsessing less over the numbers on the scale
It's true that part of anorexia has to do with weight management and control, and that was, and still is, a huge part of mine. But, I've slowly started to worry less about the number on the scale and focused instead on how my body feels as opposed to what the numbers on the scale have to say. This has been the most challenging change to make because that little nagging voice of anorexia in the back of my head keeps chiding me whenever the numbers change. I know now, though, that I'm not alone in that aspect — it's just one more thing I have to keep working on.
8. Read more self-help books
I've never been big on any kind of self-help books until I realized that maybe these people knew a little bit of what they were talking about. It wasn't until I realized that I could benefit from other people's life experiences that I started actively seeking out self-help books this past year, and I'm so beyond grateful that I did! I've learned a lot from some of the books that I've read, and, if you have a library card handy or feel like safely shopping at your local bookstore, check out the self-help section — it might benefit you as well.
9. Practiced gratitude
This might sound silly, but I've come to realize that the more grateful we are for wherever we are in life, the more life is likely to bless us in return. Over this past year, I've really started to focus on the things in my life that I'm profoundly grateful for, and I've seen a change in my frame of mind and in my overall mental well-being. A little gratitude goes a long way!
10. Started journaling every day
I've recently talked about how journaling every day has tremendously helped my mental health.
The short version is that the process of journaling helps me get out any and all emotions that I've been feeling during the day, and it also gives me a space free of judgment from anyone else to do so. I highly recommend journaling every day as a means of both judgment-free self-expression and emotional release.
These ten things have really changed my overall mental health for the better, and I hope that they can help you, too!