Prioritizing Your Mental Health & What Might Be Getting In Your Way!
We know that when someone gets the flu or breaks a bone, they understandably need a sick day or require medical attention. We might even be shocked or concerned to hear they worked their 12-hour shift regardless or ignored their broken bone. Along the same lines, when we think about what makes up a healthy lifestyle, we quickly identify factors such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.
We prioritize physical health quite readily, so why is mental health not equally important?
There are several different causes that can make it difficult to prioritize our mental health:
Stigma, for example, around what it means to be mentally ill, or what it implies to “admit” that you’re dealing with a mental health concern can prevent us from acknowledging our needs.
Stigma both stems from and creates more ignorance around mental health disorders. Not understanding different disorders and symptoms can increase fear surrounding mental health concerns in general, therefore perpetuating denunciation and/or avoidance of the subject entirely.
Limited resources or financial barriers to receiving the care we require is the harsh reality for many.
Or maybe it’s something a little less complex that’s holding us back; maybe we understand the importance of tending to our mental health but think, “I don’t have time for that,” (AKA…it’s not that important to me right now for whatever reason).
At the same time, you’ve probably seen statistics on how many Americans are affected by mental health disorders, read articles on the cost of not attending to mental health, and have heard the importance of “self-care” thrown around a few times. Still, it’s easy for mental health to fall by the wayside.
I’m here to encourage you to consider three main things:
1. When you think about how you’re doing, and I mean really, “How am I doing?” I would encourage you to include mental health in the equation. Some relevant questions might be: What is your mood like? What thoughts are you having? How did ____ affect you emotionally? When contemplating how you are feeling, consider both the body and the mind. (Watch for a post on the mind-body connection from Liza Hahn next week!)
2. If mental health isn’t part of the equation or perhaps you had a difficult time reading some of part one (AKA you felt yourself cringe, rolled your eyes, etc.), ask yourself, “What, specifically, makes it difficult for me to prioritize my mental health?” If you felt yourself cringe, for example, what is it that makes you uncomfortable when considering your mental well-being? Once you can identify what is getting in the way for you, you’ve created space for solutions.
“A problem well put is half solved.” -John Dewey
3. Next, ask yourself: “What would it take for me to prioritize my mental health?” Maybe that question leads to more questions like: “How can I feel more comfortable with this?” or “What might need to change for me to find time in my schedule?”
These aren’t necessarily easy questions (in fact, I doubt they are), nor are they answered one time and solved forever. As with physical health, being mentally healthy requires regular maintenance. In the same sense that thinking, “I had some broccoli; I’m good for the year” is laughable, thinking, “I talked to a counselor once; I think I’m all set,” is also unreasonable. Checking-in with yourself about what you need regularly is vital. Making a concrete plan of how you’ll check in with yourself might be appropriate and involving people you trust in this process can be largely beneficial.
Ultimately, considering what may be getting in the way for you personally, and what makes sense for you to prioritize your mental health, is the key.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Sam, you can reach her
via email @ firstname.lastname@example.org
call our intake line: 608-709-6972
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[This article does not create a client-counselor relationship. This article is general counseling information and is not to be considered legal or medical advice. Please consult with your mental health professional before you rely on this information.]