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Empower Your Mind: Key Practices To Protect Your Mental Health

Hey Lovelies,

One of the most difficult realizations I have ever had to face was the fact that everyone is not able to understand or be with me on my mental health journey. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean I’m alone it means that I am healing.

One of the things we tend not to talk about when it comes to mental health is how uncomfortable it is to focus on your mental health because that involves setting boundaries with others and making yourself a top priority.

Healing can be painful but it is also possible. To recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, I’m going to share some essential actions you can take in this moment to protect your mental health, empower your mind, and ultimately help you on your healing journey. You can also check out my Mental Health Resource Guide for more support and guidance.

Say Yes To Yourself

One of the best things I ever did for myself when starting my mental health journey is saying yes to the things I wanted to do, even if that meant I had to do them alone. Is there a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try? Or a concert or comedy show you’ve been wanting to attend? Maybe you’ve been in desperate need of a deep tissue massage or a fresh hair cut.

My advice to you is don’t wait. Do it now for yourself. Embrace the idea of going on a solo date even if you’re in a relationship.

Trust me you’re not cheating on anyone by prioritizing your needs. If anything once you spend some time on yourself it will be much easier for you to focus on the other person you’re with and be present.

If you’re still not sure where to start then start small. When you go to the grocery store, pick up a new snack for yourself instead of just checking items off the list for the kids or the week ahead.

On your way home from work maybe take a different route or try a new spot for lunch instead of sitting at your computer screen scarfing down leftovers from last night.

Maybe the solution doesn’t involve going out maybe you may need time alone at home curling up with a good book while diffusing essential oils or lighting a candle.

However you choose to celebrate you, make sure it’s your time and your time alone. It can be hard to sit with yourself at first but exploring activities and taking care of your basic needs can help get the process moving along.

Confront The Elephant In The Room

I’ll admit confrontation has never been my strong suit but it is a necessary life skill to master. When I started having those tough conversations I’d been avoiding I found that my relationships with my loved ones, my roommates and even my boss drastically improved.

Those things you felt uncomfortable speaking about may also be the same things you’re coworker or parent feels uncomfortable speaking about to. It’s important to address concerns as soon as they happen don’t sit on those feelings, identify what it is that you are feeling and why.

Make sure the timing is right and both people are in the right headspace before you begin the conversation. If someone is in the middle of driving home from a hectic day at work or in the middle of preparing for a big meeting that might not be the best time to address heavy issues.

Try using this technique to help you express your emotions:

“I don’t like when you (fill in the blank), I feel (stressed-specific feeling) when you do that, next time (suggest what they can do instead).

It’s important to remember that people are human and often do not know how much their behavior affects others unless we point it out. We cannot put expectations on others such as “They must do things this way because I said so” because the rules and expectations we have in our minds are not universal.

Try to avoid being defensive and have an open mindset when having a serious conversation. It’s important that both people are in a safe space to share and express ideas. You may need to build on the idea the other person shares before challenging it. Ask yourself if the roles were reversed would I feel safe to express myself in this environment, if the answer is no then you have your answer.

Make sure to ask the other person questions to help them process what's happened, and this will also allow you to clarify and solidify details of the conversation.

It is essential to show empathy: Try to put yourself in other people's shoes, you can better understand what they need and communicate more effectively.

  • Be open-minded: Be willing to listen to what the other person has to say.

  • Discuss possible solutions: Coming up with solutions goes hand-in-hand with establishing a purpose for the meeting.

Once we understand this concept it becomes much easier to have a healthy and effective conversation.

Let Go Of People, Places, and Situations You've Outgrown

They say that the people you surround yourself with are a reflection of the person you are. So you must choose wisely. If you start to notice your interest and or values have changed that may be an indication that you have outgrown that relationship.

Another indication that you're outgrowing people is when you feel like they're holding you back. When you're developing and someone else isn't, it's fairly uncommon for them to want to slow you down so you don't leave them behind. Often, they are unaware that they are doing so; it simply manifests itself in their words and deeds.

Another sign that the relationship no longer serves you is if your priorities have changed. Maybe your at a stage in your life where you are taking on more responsibility at work so you can buy a home and start a family whereas your friend may still be comfortable staying in the same position that may be an indication that you've outgrown them.

When you outgrow individuals, it becomes difficult to communicate successfully with them.

This makes a lot of sense when you consider how we develop in life. If you're in your forties, chances are you struggle to communicate with teenagers and believe they speak a different language. You've outgrown your teens.

However, outgrowing someone means more than just age, and it might be difficult to communicate with someone born on the same day as you. It totally depends on where they are in their lives. For example, if you have children but your friends do not, don't be surprised if your conversation has changed.

Also if you are doing things for others out of loyalty that they would not do for you that is a sign you've outgrown the relationship.

We all outgrow people; it's a normal aspect of being human and developing as individuals. In fact, observing that you're outgrowing individuals may indicate that you're going through personal growth.

It's always sad to outgrow somebody, especially if they're people we like. At the same time, we must recognize that if we don't let go of these people, they will hold us back. Make sure you are prepared to make this move.

Pay Less Attention To Things You Can't Control and Pay More Attention To The Things You Can

Once you've felt the relief of acceptance, you may notice that you have a lot of free mental energy. You do not have to waste time and energy rejecting the truths of your existence. In short, if you stop wasting time on things you can't alter, you'll be free to focus on what you can.

You'll need to take some time to identify what is within your control. Once you do identify what is in control, you can begin to develop the habit of being grateful for what you can manage. Take time every day to recognize your own qualities, successes, and positive aspects of your life. I discuss ways to practice gratitude in another article you can read called, "Quarantine Edition: Gratitude Challenge."

You can also try writing down your worries in a journal or using a journaling app. Are there particular circumstances or mental patterns that make you worry? This knowledge gives you the ability to create preventative plans or look for mental health support.

If you are concerned about others reading your journal then you can take that same piece of paper where you wrote out what's bothering you and rip it up to literally let it go.

Remember the goal is not to eliminate stress but to feel comfortable, confident, and competent to face those stressors in a really healthy way. Why it may seem natural to try to suppress or ignore anxiety and worries, trying to avoid these feelings will eventually end up making them more intense.

It may also be beneficial to take breaks regularly from social media. In another article I discuss how to take a social media break, which you can read here: Quarantine Edition: Social Media Detox Challenge.

Rather than fighting the concern or anxiety, give yourself permission to feel it completely. This is accepting these feelings for what they are without passing judgment on them, nor obsessing over them. Breathe deeply and state, "I am feeling worried," whenever concern creeps in. Try to imagine yourself in the ocean and the waves are your worries. The waves will always come and go but you have to be still and let the pass to get through them.

Celebrate Your Wins (no matter how small)

Oftentimes when we think of things people commonly celebrate we focus on birthdays, holidays, graduations, landing a new job, job promotions, weddings, home ownership, baby showers, anniversaries, retirement, and other achievements and awards.

But what we rarely acknowledge are those little wins no matter how small. It's in those moments where we often dismiss the impact that little victory has in our lives. But we deserve to celebrate those moments to.

You are merely operating like a robot if all you are doing is mindlessly switching between tasks. Your brain receives this message from your celebration of success and happy feelings: "This is why all that hard work paid off." This is the emotion I'm pursuing." Because of the negative bias ingrained in our brains, we tend to recall setbacks and failures more readily than achievements and good things. Take a moment to challenge those negative thoughts that may arise by focusing on the advantages of the small wins.

Give yourself a pat on the back for setting healthy boundaries and ending unhealthy relationships at work, home, and in your personal life. Give yourself praise for making difficult decisions and also for doing simple tasks like cleaning and organizing your space or achieving balance in your life.

Celebrate the fact that you are in good health and you're practicing self-care. Give yourself a round of applause for sticking to a new routine or learning a new skill or spending time with loved ones or having moments of solitude. Also for starting therapy.

Treat yourself for getting to the end of this article and taking steps to protect your mental health. I hope this was useful to you. Most of the time we focus on the symptoms of mental health conditions and not enough on ways to safeguard mental health.

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