If you feel like everyone around you is living their best life while you’re still just trying to keep it together, you’re probably not alone.
Between the stress of work, the demands of your personal life, and the fact that social media has become a highlight reel where everyone is catching flights (but not feelings), it’s easy to imagine that you’re the only one struggling with your mood or your mental health. People may confuse intelligence, high-functioning productivity, or success as signs of good mental health. But as we know, there can always be much more going on beneath the surface.
Although we tend to neglect it, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It’s important to be intentional about your emotional and mental well-being, whether you’re trying to make improvements or maintain your current state. When you are not in good mental health, it affects how you feel, behave, think and function which has an influence on everything from your career and finances to your relationship with yourself and others.
It’s common to feel sad or have difficulty processing an emotion following a life event, but when you find it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday life, it’s time to consider reaching out for help. If you notice that you are feeling hopeless about your future, check in with yourself. Are you also experiencing things like social withdrawal, intentional isolation, excessive or irrational fears and worries, increased or uncontrollable substance use to manage your feelings, and dramatic changes to your eating or sleeping habits? That’s your sign to take action.
In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day (and Suicide Awareness Month), we’ve put together this checklist as a toolbox for you to access when you’re going through it. Whether this is for you, your little brother, a nephew, or information you can pass along to a friend, these are some ways you can work on your mental health:
Go See a Therapist
It’s important to have an outlet for your feelings, but after you have tried journaling and channeling your emotions into work or art, it’s time to consider seeing a licensed therapist that can offer some sound advice. Though it may seem uncomfortable to talk to someone you don’t know about your problems, it’s helpful to have someone with a subjective perspective and insight into how to manage emotions to use a soundboard for your issues.
Look Online for Resources
During these times, it’s important to remember that your friends can only help so much and seek to find other resources that can offer emotional support at the level you need it. If you need some connection, look into local support groups, find groups on social media where you can talk to others who understand what you’re going through, listen to podcasts, or look for information online that can lead you in the right direction.
Find Ways to Deal with Stress
It may seem impossible to reduce the amount of stress you encounter everyday, but you can find useful ways to cope that don’t include drinking or smoking in order to chill out. If you are a physical person, try incorporating exercise or activities like cooking or playing games that can help you unwind. If you’re more of the cerebral type, you can try meditation or find a good book to get lost in. The goal is to pick something that you enjoy and won’t feel pressured to do.
Cultivate a Self-Care Practice
Self care is about being intentional and deliberate about providing yourself with the level of physical and emotional nurturing you require to thrive. The first step in that direction looks like taking the time to assess the areas in your life where you can step up for yourself and then committing to doing what you decide will be helpful. For some people that can look like baths and more time in the gym, but for others that can mean sticking to a budget or reading self-improvement books. It’s all about what you need.