For most of us, the resolutions made on the first day of January are already beginning to fizzle out. But it isn’t too late to adopt some practical, doable steps to take charge of your mental health in 2017. Consider these:
Make sleep a priority. Not only can insufficient shut-eye wreak havoc on both physical and mental health, not getting enough rest can make it more difficult to pursue other self-care strategies such as eating right and getting regular exercise. Rather than vowing to simply “get more sleep,” take specific steps that make it easier to get to bed at a decent hour and get solid rest. For example, turn off electronics an hour before bed and avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
Schedule time for things that refresh you. Often the things that energize us and reduce stress get pushed aside—and many times, they’re neglected completely. Try to do at least one each day, whether it’s reading a good book, visiting with friends, going for a walk or playing an instrument.
Invest in relationships. Relationships are a key element in overall wellness, and nearly any step to pursue better mental health is easier with support from others. Be intentional about nurturing connections with friends and family by picking up the phone or meeting for coffee.
Volunteer. Giving others a hand has been shown to reduce stress and increase both mental and physical well-being. If you don’t already volunteer, find an organization or cause you care about and sign up to serve, whether it involves helping sort donations at a local food bank, taking an elderly neighbor grocery shopping each week or volunteering at The Well. As a bonus, when you volunteer with others, you spend time in community, boosting the mental health benefits of helping out.
Learn more. If you’re struggling with a specific mental health condition, learning more can give you additional tools to manage it. Our website and Facebook page offer a wealth of information on mental illnesses and living well with these conditions. Also check out organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness or The Grace Alliance.
Seek help if you need it. Sometimes more than self-care is needed to manage your mental health. Don’t hesitate to talk to a counselor or doctor if you’ve been struggling.
The Well Community encourages members to take steps like these, not only at New Year’s resolution season, but all year round. At The Well, those living with serious mental illnesses find support in pursuing self-care, getting help from qualified professionals and sticking to a treatment plan.
Your gift to the Well Community will help those who live with serious mental illnesses take steps to take charge of their mental health.