We all want to take care of our body, but what about our mind? We often hear the subject of mental health and for some of us it is a reminder that we are not where we want to be. The thing about mental health is that it’s not a challenge or a competition, but a way to build on the most important relationship we’ve ever had – the one with ourselves. For those of us who have the ability, time and courage to start the conversation, let’s raise awareness about mental health and explore ways to care for ourselves even better.
What is mental health?
Sometimes mental health can feel like a buzzword or a buzzed topic instead of a real and valuable conversation we can have with ourselves. Although it is called sanity, this type of health actually refers to internal conditions being in a state of balance. It talks about our ability to process and manage stress. It deals with our emotions and how we deal with feelings. Mental health is the relationship between making space and prioritizing our happiness and peace while dealing with the most difficult parts of life mentally and emotionally.
When was the first time any of us talked about or even thought about our mental health? For many of us, mental health was not a subject in school; it wasn’t in any of our bedtime stories. And mental health awareness was not a topic that many of our parents and guardians were equipped to have with us. Maybe we had a diary, a confidante, or a counselor we could talk to, but real formal mental health support is a newer concept. The mental health awareness process took time to develop and evolve into what it is today, as we have seen how a lack of mental health can negatively impact us.
We are now at a point where, as a society, mental health is something we want to examine and explore. Also, we see mental health as a positive thing, rather than being ashamed of needing support. Mental health awareness not only means being an advocate for the types of care and resources available, but also being an advocate for ourselves and living a completely healthy lifestyle. As there has never been a more important time to take mental health seriously.
Mental health and well-being
The relationship between our mental health and our well-being is really intertwined. Our physical and emotional well-being depends on taking care of our minds and hearts. What does it look like? For example, a long period without socializing with friends and loved ones would likely negatively impact the well-being of a bubbly, outgoing person with an outgoing personality. This kind of prolonged period of unmet need could then lead to negative thoughts, lack of motivation to take on responsibility, apathy, and then anxiety or depression.
Simply put, mental health and wellbeing is a regular state to ensure that our personal needs are met. For most of us, that path isn’t linear or constant, and it’s not how we like to spread mental health awareness. Trying to focus on making sure we always have what we need seems a bit stressful. Rather, we prefer to think of it as a routine. Like waking up and stretching, or drinking water throughout the day, are we practicing good mental health and good hygiene?
Mental Hygiene and Mental Health Awareness
Mental health starts with mental health awareness, but that’s not enough to fully impact our lives. This is where positive mental hygiene comes in. Similar to our daily routine of showering, washing our faces, and whatever else we do to prepare our bodies, we also need to prepare our minds. This means finding ways to limit or remove what puts our mental health in bad shape and injecting positive activities for improvement and balance. Let’s talk about mental hygiene and ways to practice good mental health.
Journaling is one way to have a positive impact on our mental health. It gives us space and time to be present with our thoughts and feelings. Then, by writing them down, we are able to reflect and even understand ourselves better. Along with this, incorporating a gratitude practice can help us focus on the good in our lives and break the stress or monotony of a less than ideal daily routine.
Connecting has certainly been a challenge for a few years now, and certainly comes with risks, but forming positive communities, whether physical or virtual, is a great way to gain and give support. Having an emotionally nurturing place where people can come together to share in confidence not only raises awareness about mental health, but helps us not feel alone in our own struggles.
We call it mental hygiene because there are times when we benefit from avoiding or abstaining from certain activities. One of those cases is doing a social media detox. Like we said, healthy and supportive communities can be fun, but the risk of being online is comparing ourselves to others. Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t help but see neatly organized online lives and reflect on how we’re not where we want to be somehow. Since we are all on our own journeys, we encourage taking the time to create an uplifting, healthy, and inspiring environment by detoxing from social media from time to time.
13 resources for mental health
Fortunately, there are now a variety of resources available to us for mental health support. While small practices on our own can certainly help, and it’s a good idea to start there, there are plenty of mental health resources available to us whenever we need them. Options include individually guided or interactive apps, as well as chat lines and social groups. Many of us are familiar with counseling or therapy and there are resources that offer affordable or complementary options. In our mental health awareness efforts, here are some resources to start improving mental hygiene:
7 cups: A free chat line with volunteer listeners, available at all times.
MoodMission: a resource for learning mental health hygiene and coping skills.
Recovery record: focus on supporting people in difficulty with food and food well-being.
Head space: mindfulness and meditation in a charming application format.
change of mind: a free digital platform to fight against anxiety.
Discussion area: Explore therapy with this online counseling platform.
Shine: mental health platform designed to support BIPOC individuals.
Happiness: Self-Guided Virtual Interactive Therapy for Depression Support.
Calm: an app-based resource for mindfulness, meditation and sleep recovery.
daily strength: a digital anxiety support forum.
Loona: aim for a healthy and soothing bedtime routine? Look no further.
MindDoc: Help for anxiety and depression.
Happy: promote mental hygiene and positive thinking.