The last two years have created new and unexpected situations for millions of people around the world. We disrupted our routines, struggled with isolation, and millions of families have been grieving and mourning without the usual support of friends and family. Grief for kids and caregivers can manifest in many different ways. So for 2022, Mental Health America chose the theme of back to the basics of mental health. When we understand the basics and have a strong foundation for mental wellness we are better able to cope with the stressors that are presented to us each day.
Here are some helpful tips for how you can build a strong foundation for mental and emotional wellness:
Mental health and physical health are more interconnected than they may appear on the surface. It is common for those who are suffering from long-term mental health or physical ailments to see their symptoms manifesting in physical and psychological ways. The strain of continual ailments can lead to anxiety and depression, among other mental health disorders. So what can we do to alleviate the strain on our physical and mental health?
Eat healthy foods, drink plenty of water, get adequate sleep, and try to exercise moderately throughout your week. These tips aren’t new and implementing new routines can be difficult, but once it becomes a consistent part of your routine you can start to reap the rewards of these first steps to wellness.
Self-care ties in directly to the relation between mental and physical health. When we take care of ourselves we are more centered, less stressed, and better able to tolerate all the demands of day-to-day life. Self-care is a unique concept for everyone. Try these 3 tips from West Tennessee HealthCare:
- Identify the things that are important to you: Taking the space to reflect on your priorities can help you figure out what is most important to you and which things do not add value. Use this self-created list to better organize your thoughts and focus on the things that bring you meaning.
- Adopt a gratitude mindset: When we change our thinking we are capable of anything. Scheduling time into our day to reflect, connect, and be thankful can help ease stress and anxiety, and can help you achieve a more positive outlook on life. Grabbing a book about gratitude could also help guide you or your child through this practice of self-care.
- Take a quick mental survey of your body: Using relaxation exercises like progressive muscle relaxation in our Sloth Starts to Slumber story you can identify where you are feeling the tension in your body and actively work at relaxing and releasing the tension. More relaxation exercises
Connection and belonging
Feeling like we have support and love is a critical part of our overall health. Think about a time when things were stressful or challenging and what your first impulse is? For a lot of people, when things get tough, we turn to our loved ones who offer us a safe space to vent, problem-solve, and garner helpful insight and advice. Without connection, we can feel isolated and lonely which can lead to depression and other mental health issues. Ways to foster connection are offering and receiving help, advice, perspective, and validation. It can be as simple as asking a friend to pick up your kid or helping by stopping by and feeding their cat.
Building connections and expanding your community can have enormous benefits for your well-being. On connection, Brené Brown, author and research professor of social work at the University of Houston, said it best: “I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
There are tons of different ways for us to experience security, but one important part is emotional safety. Do we feel comfortable and confident that we can show up and express ourselves in our relationships in an authentic way? Do our friends and family feel safe doing the same? When we explore emotional safety it is important to note the things that help create an environment that is conducive to emotional safety.
Feeling valued and valuing our family and friends builds safety, security, and belonging. When we feel safe and valued we are more likely to show up as our authentic selves which can help alleviate stress and anxiety. Knowing that you are valued also offers us the space to share our weaknesses without fear of judgment, and helps us feel seen and heard. Security, at a glance, encourages us to be our most true and free selves.
When we allow ourselves to go back to the basics we can help achieve a stronger foundation for mental wellness throughout our lives. With that said, mental wellness and mental illness are two very different things. If you find yourself struggling with mental illness we recommend reaching out to your healthcare provider who can support you in finding a counselor or therapist who can guide you through your healing journey. Was there anything in our back-to-basics that you found interesting or do you have any other helpful tips for achieving wellness in 2022? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.