A Road Map to Mental Health and Wellness
There is no one size fits all solution to mental health. If we could wave a magic wand and all be happier and healthier, I am sure that everyone would do it. However, there are strategies that you an use and things that you can be mindful of that will increase your mental well-being.
Over the next few months, I will be posting articles with advice on dealing with anxiety and depression, and how to achieve better mental health. All of the advice that I will give will fit somewhere into the following key steps.
- Embrace imperfection
- Know yourself and challenge yourself
- Get out of your head
- Create goals and stick with them
- Be good to yourself
Achieving better mental health can be a long and arduous process, especially if you are struggling with anxiety, depression orang other mental health disorders. Just reading some articles with someone else’s advice is probably not going to be enough. However, these articles are here to serve as a jumping off point and a guide in your mental health journey. If you are really committed to challenging yourself and putting in the work, I believe that these steps can help you lead a healthier, happier life.
Nothing in life is ever going to be perfect and this site is founded on belief that the best life can come from embracing life’s imperfections and those moments when life clashes. As a recovering perfectionist, I have spent a great deal of time wracked with anxiety as a result of trying to force things to go smoothly and fit within some perfect vision.
By embracing imperfection, you give yourself permission to enjoy whatever life throws at you rather than spending all of your energy fighting to make things perfect. Perfectionism can be a major trigger for depression and anxiety and letting that go is the first step to a healthier, happier life.
I know, easier said than done, right? However, over the course of this blog I will share more articles and exercises to help you hone this skill. Mindfulness and radical acceptance are key parts of embracing imperfection.
Know Yourself and Challenge Yourself
Everyone’s mind works a little differently and everyone will have different needs and experiences. As a result, a random outsider is never going to know exactly what works best for you. It is important that you know yourself and keep your own needs and limitations in mind when you work on any kind of self-improvement. If you need hard deadlines to accomplish things, make sure you use deadlines. At the same time, if hard deadlines will turn you into an anxious mess and cause you to have a meltdown, be more generous with yourself. You need to find a way to achieve your goals without hurting yourself in the process.
At the same time, it is important to challenge yourself. Pushing ourselves is how personal development happens. The key is in knowing exactly how much you can push without damaging yourself.
Additionally, part of knowing yourself and challenging yourself is learning to identify the cognitive distortions that we all experience. Cognitive distortions are errors in our minds. They are irrational or exaggerated thought patterns and they play a major role in anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Anyone can benefit from learning to identify their cognitive distortions, but it is especially essential for those battling anxiety and depression to learn to identify them so that they can be corrected. Once you learn to identify your cognitive distortions, you can learn to correct them.
Get Out of Your Head
If you are anything like me, it can be so easy to live within our own heads. This is especially true if the isolating factors of anxiety or depression come into play. That is why it is so important to make it a point to get out of your own head.
Ruminating on your own thoughts all day is a recipe for disaster. Write things down. Create art or music or whatever mode of self-expression works best for you. Talk to someone – a friend, a family member, a therapist. Do not get trapped within your own mind.
For me, words are magical and so you will see a lot of posts about using journals and writing for managing mental health and achieving a more balanced life. However, if words and writing don’t do anything for you, find something that does. Play an instrument, paint a picture, express yourself however you can.
It is also important that you do not underestimate the value of talking to other people. Aside from the very important human connection, it helps to let other people in your life know where you are and how they can help. If you are reading blogs about mental health online, there is a chance that you are trying to manage your mental health without a therapist. If that is truly what works best for your current situation that is fine, but know that many people find working in person with a therapist can make all of the difference.
Create Goals and Stick With Them
I am a goal driven person and so I believe strongly in the power of goals to help you on the road to self-improvement. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t have a clear idea of where you need to go. There is a reason the first part of creating a treatment plan needs to be to figure out what you want to get out of the treatment.
Furthermore, it is important to create clear, measurable goals so that you can track your progress and hold yourself accountable. It is one thing to say “I want to be happier”, everyone does. It is another, to create a goal such as “I will do something that makes me happy at least three times a week” and track how well you follow through with that goal.
Everyone has goals, the trick is in defining them clearly and sticking with them.
Be Good to Yourself
I think that this is the step that is easiest to lose track of. We are often our own worst critics and it is so easy to forget our own self-care. Loving yourself and taking care of yourself are essential are so important. As a mom, I often feel guilty if I take even the smallest amount of time to do something just for me. However, taking that time is so important for overall mental health and wellness. What is something that makes you happy? Make time to do it.
And so it begins….
The steps that I listed above are just a guide. Over the next few months, I will be posting articles and exercises that relate to these steps in different ways. My hope is to give you the tools to internalize the skills mentioned above and achieve a healthier, happier, and more balance life.