So you've decided that you will work on your mental health- yay, I'm so proud of you! Making the conscious decision to focus on your emotional wellbeing is a huge step. Whether you've come to this decision after a period of not feeling your best, or you are simply looking to prioritize your mental health more in your day-to-day life, I think it's very much worth your time and energy. For many of us, we've spent years neglecting our emotions, and therefore, taking action towards better mental health may feel exhausting. To make the process a little more manageable, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Change takes time
You've probably heard this one before, but it's easy to forget when you start putting in the work. Making the conscious choice to work on your mental health is only the start of a lifelong journey. If you aren't noticing much change in yourself after a few weeks of making some changes, take a deep breath and keep going. It can take a while to notice a difference, especially if focusing on your mental health is new for you. I encourage you not to give up. Instead, recognize the frustration and kindly remind yourself that you are in this for the long haul.
You will still face tough emotions.
I remember starting therapy, prioritizing rest, taking my medication, and incorporating movement as a part of my journey in working on mental health, only to get pissed when my anxiety showed back up. What was the point of all of it if I was still going to feel bad??? It took some reframing to remind myself that working on mental health doesn't mean I will only feel happiness 24/7. Working on your mental health is not about getting rid of all the negative feelings. Instead, think about it as expanding your ability to cope with challenging moments and move through any emotion.
You don't need to go at this alone.
Putting your mental health first is a personal decision, but that doesn't mean you can't turn to others for support. It is human nature to want to connect with people, so find those with whom you can share this journey. Having the ability to talk through what's working for you and the challenges that come up (which will definitely happen) is a great way to process everything. If you don't feel like you already have relationships in which you can have these kinds of vulnerable conversations, don't forget that there are professionals out there that you can turn to.
Prepare to show yourself grace.
Working on your mental health is no walk in the park, and beating yourself up at any point doesn't make things easier. There will be setbacks and plenty of moments where you feel like you didn't make the best choice, but self-criticism won't do much to make you feel better. Instead, plan to show yourself lots of grace. Don't let perfection be your goal and instead aim for growth. When you start to get self-critical, remind yourself how much strength it takes to prioritize your mental health and take a moment to be proud of being proactive with your emotional wellbeing.
Small changes make a difference.
The good news is that we don't need to overhaul our entire lives to start working on our mental health. Small changes can help in the long run, mainly because we are more likely to stick with them. So what can you dedicate five minutes to each day that helps you put your mental health first? Maybe try journaling or spending a few minutes deep breathing before bed. You can always add on from there but don't let overwhelm turn you off from the process altogether.
Working on your mental health is not a one-and-done sort of thing. Instead, it's a lifelong journey that may, at times, feel like an uphill battle. Keeping these five things in mind as you work to put yourself and your mental health first may help the process. Remember that the conscious decision to put your emotional health first is a huge step- celebrate that and go forth from there. You got this!