We often think of mental illness – whether it shows up in the people we love, in the bright color of an awareness ribbon, or in the news – as a severe psychological problem that needs treatment. Terms like depression and anxiety are regularly mentioned, often in the same sentence as treatment and medication.
Lost in the milieu of illness, we might forget to consider “mental wellness.” Since January is both a time of renewal and farewell, how about checking in to see what your mental wellness level is?
In the world of psychological maladies, there is no definition for “normal.” But in our everyday life, what does it mean to feel good mentally? How would you describe it? Most of us go through our lives without ever assessing: how is my outlook on life? Am I mentally well? Or could I use some tuning up?
Life mindset – How do you face each day? Do you feel like each day presents new possibilities? Even if your morning routine is a bit hectic, do you find yourself excited about what’s in store for the future? For many of us, we find ourselves shaking our heads, as our daily view tends towards a more negative attitude. And you aren’t alone. But negativity affects not only our world view, but our health and attitude. So how do you alter this habit, and create a new one?
Using the S.M.A.R.T. goal strategy we discussed before, it might look something like this: I will speak one positive thought about my life each morning, for the next 30 days. You might put that goal on a sticky note and post it around the house and in your car so you can stick to it!
Self-talk – What does you self-talk sound like? Is it encouraging and loving? Is the way you speak to yourself the same way you would speak to your child or best friend? Does it make you smile with joy? If your answer is “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to evaluate how to improve it. We know that self-talk not only improves our attitude, but it has significant impacts on our health.
To make the first step in improving our self-talk, let’s use the goal above: creating a more positive life mindset. When you get up in the morning and face yourself in the mirror, make a conscious effort to improve your self -talk. “This is a new day – and it’s awesome.” “I am going to face the challenges today with a smile.” “Even though today has some stress in it, I’m going to have a good day.” Whatever might work for your situation – choose that phrase or adjust it to match the day’s (and your) needs.
So rather than live in a bad news bubble, why not change some of your daily influences to help cultivate better mental wellness? Try listening to your favorite tunes, or putting on some dance music and moving to the beat. Have you checked out the podcasts that are available for your daily drive? Or how about listening to a book? If you like to have something on the television, try a funny show or an uplifting spiritual program. Even a meditation or yoga class can help ease the strain of daily stress.
Our mental wellness is critical not only to our health, but to our life satisfaction. While it’s easy to overlook, the more mindful we are about our outlook, the better the outcome, and the more likely we are to find true joy and contentment in our lives.
What are ways you have used to improve your mental wellness? What areas are you still working on?