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Creating a Mental Wellness Action Plan for the New Year: 5 Tips to Prioritize Your Mental Health in 2024


January is Mental Wellness Month and as we embark on a fresh new year, let's chat about an important topic — mental wellness. Let's be real, we often neglect our own mental health while juggling everything else. But not anymore! 2024 is the year to prioritize your well-being and I have 5 tips to help you create a powerful Mental Wellness Action Plan. Keep reading for some valuable insights on taking care of your mind, body, and soul this year.


Now is your opportunity to prioritize your mental health in 2024. Let us celebrate the journey towards self-care and self-discovery. Remember, taking care of your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. With each passing day, focus on finding inner peace and balance, because a healthy mind leads to a happy life. Let this month serve as a reminder to cultivate a positive mindset and to spread love and positivity to those around you. You have the power to create a brighter and healthier future for yourself, so let's make the most of this month and every day thereafter.


In my latest Educated Black Queen podcast episode "Empowering Women and Veterans" I chatted with Crystal Hamlin-Tramack about her journey and mental wellbeing. She is a wife, a mother, and originally from Alexandria, Virginia. She is on a mission to empower women and veterans to move in health and wellness finances and careers. She is a retired US Army Medical Service Officer.


She holds a Master of Arts degree in Physical Education: Exercise/Sports Administration from the University of North Carolina-Pembroke. In this episode, we discuss everything from her experience as a first-generation college student to becoming a medical service core officer.


“She Needs to Move Something to Live: Improving your Health and Wellness in 3 Steps” is available on Amazon and during this episode Crystal shares a sneak peek about her next upcoming book on landing 6 figure federal career!


Share Your Story

There is something powerful about sharing your story. Others can be motivated, enlightened, and reminded of the strength of resilience and support by your story. To share your knowledge and experiences, think about using blogs, social media, or local events as platforms. You can dismantle stigma and promote understanding of mental health by sharing your experiences with others.


I'll be honest during my final semester in grad school I realized I had earned a Master's Degree in Nonprofit Management which was a major achievement but I had neglected my mental well-being in the process. There were a lot of sleepless nights eating junk food and not getting enough sunshine throughout my day. I can't go back in time but my hope is that if you are a grad student and reading this then maybe you can learn from my mistakes and we can both start fresh in 2024.


If you have a story to share and would like your story to be featured in a future Educated Black Queen Blog post or a guest speaker on the podcast, use this contact form and I'll connect with you.


Build Good Relationships

Did you know that fostering good relationships can actually have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing? I'm talking about those connections that lift you up, make you laugh, and support you through the ups and downs of life. Try engaging in conversation at work, in social circles, and FaceTime with people who support and love you. Recent studies from Ireland and the USA have found that negative social interactions and relationships, especially with partners/spouses, increase the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. In contrast, positive interactions reduce the risk of these issues.

Empathetic listening is crucial in addressing stress in relationships. Pay close attention and understand the person's point of view. Be willing to share the spotlight, stay calm, and use the acronym HALT to address your needs before addressing the problem. Limit social media exposure and engage in direct communication, such as in person, phone, or video.


Practice Gratitude

Emphasize the positive, as research shows that intentional practices of gratitude can improve mental health and relationships. Write down two or three things you are grateful for daily, including positive interactions with friends or partners, and express this appreciation to the person. I did a gratitude challenge a few years back that I shared on the blog. Oftentimes we are so focused on the future desires that weigh heavy on our hearts that we can not appreciate what we have. We must remind ourselves that at one point we prayed for that job, that home, that child, that relationship to come into fruition and that is a miracle. One of my favorite sermons by Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts discusses being grateful for the miracle's that happened years ago. Even your existence is a miracle. Tell yourself you are fearfully and wonderfully made!


Be Intentional With Self-Care

This month, take a day off work for mental wellness. Taking on more work than you can do can be simple at first, but in the long run, this can cause stress and burnout. Try to safeguard your mental well-being by graciously declining additional requests when you are unable to fulfill them. If you find it difficult to turn down more work, make sure your manager knows which current tasks should be discarded or given less priority in order to make room for the new work during your workday. Take time for relaxation to take care of your mental health. Th help you manage stress, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation. Aim for at least one peaceful activity each day, like taking a little stroll or spending 30 minutes reading, writing, or listening to music. I enjoy painting and recently created a Lilo & Stitch portrait! Be patient with yourself it will take time for you to do some self-reflection and figure out if you need to build emotional intelligence or engage in cognitive restructuring. Try to focus on what makes you feel calm and at peace. You want to create a safe space for your mental wellness to thrive.


Celebrate The Small Successes

Everybody wants to feel like they've accomplished something, that they've made a difference, and that they can contribute to the projects they work on. Thus, it's critical to recognize and appreciate all accomplishments, no matter how tiny. On some days, that can entail producing a fantastic piece of work; on other days, it might entail cleaning or making the bed. Every day, try to find one modest task you can complete.


“Love yourself through it. Realize that you’re doing the best you can right now. Be open to improvising here and there, as necessary. Release any unhealthy relationship with being in total control. We’re being reminded that at the end of the day, we’re not in control.”Lalah Delia, author and founder of Vibrate Higher Daily.

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References

Mental Health First Aid. (2019, February 6). 5 Surprising Mental Health Statistics. https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2019/02/5-surprising-mental-health-statistics/

Teo, A.R., Choi, H.J., & Valenstein, M. (2013). Social Relationships and Depression: Ten-Year Follow-Up from a Nationally Representative Study. PLOS One, 8(4). Retrieved from journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0062396.

Santini, Z.I., Koyanagi, A., Tyrovolas, S., & Haro, J.M. (2015). The association of relationship quality and social networks with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among older married adults: Findings from a cross-sectional analysis of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA). Journal of Affective Disorders, 179, 134–141.

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