Is mental health a priority? The answer is a resounding yes. As imperative as it is, some people don’t realize the extent of which taking care of mental health matters or how not taking care of your mental health can impact your life. So, why does it matter as much as it does, and how can you start making your mental health a priority if it hasn’t been one in the past?
Reasons To Make Mental Health A Priority
Here are some reasons to make mental health a priority in your life:
- It goes hand in hand with physical health. Research shows that prolonged stress and other similar mental health concerns can have wildly detrimental effects on your physical well-being. Ongoing stress can lead to an increased risk of anxiety and depression, but it can also lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, body aches, headaches, and even early mortality.
- It supports interpersonal relationships. When you aren’t taking care of your mental health, you may become stressed out or irritable, which can impact your relationships. This may be true for friendships, romantic relationships, or any other important connections in your life.
- It improves your quality of life. When you work through mental health concerns you’re facing and manage your stress levels, your quality of life is better overall. Working through past experiences or negative feelings, developing new healthy coping skills and other life skills in therapy, and having a safe place to talk about what’s on your mind can help you grow as a person, achieve your goals, gain a greater sense of satisfaction in life, and feel more content.
How To Start Making Mental Health A Priority
Here are some ways to start making mental health a priority in your life:
- Acknowledge your emotions. If your mental health has been on the back burner, you may have pent up feelings of sadness, anger, loneliness, or something else. These can impact you negatively whether you’re conscious of it or not. Research shows that this presents a risk not only for your mental health, but your physical health.
- Look at what is and isn’t sustainable. Long work hours? Constant conflict in your romantic relationship? Extreme stress levels? Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness that don’t seem to dissipate? All of these things are examples of things that are unsustainable on an ongoing basis, and you deserve to acknowledge and work through them.
- Work on your inner dialogue. Having a positive internal dialogue is wildly advantageous. It doesn’t mean that you’ll be happy all the time, but it does mean that you’ll speak to yourself in a way that is advantageous and kind rather than harmful or maladaptive. Speak to yourself the way you would speak to a friend or loved one and challenge negative thoughts or beliefs about yourself when they arise. If you struggle with this, a mental health provider can help.
- Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep has physical, emotional, psychological, and social consequences. Even one or two hours of lost sleep can increase your risk of getting into a car accident. Practice sleep hygiene for your overall mental and physical well-being.
- Use self-care. Self-care is about checking in with yourself and seeing what you need. Perhaps you need to eat more regularly throughout the day, change something about your schedule to better manage your stress levels, spend more time outdoors, modify your routine at night so that you can get the sleep that you need, or something else.
- Recognize anything that’s affecting your mental health negatively. For example, suppose you noticed that you have symptoms of anxiety that are impacting your life. In that case, it’s important to reach out to a medical or mental health professional who can help you get started in working through it.
Above all else, remember that no matter what you’re going through, you don’t have to do it alone. Having a support system is imperative. Whether you do so on a short or long-term basis, seeing a counselor or therapist is a great way to get the support you need in a dedicated, confidential, non-judgmental setting.
Find A Therapist
People see mental health providers such as therapists for a myriad of reasons. Whether you’re facing life stressors, grief, symptoms of a mental health condition, trouble sleeping, concerns related to interpersonal relationships, or something else that’s on your mind, finding a therapist can help you make your mental health a priority. There are various ways to find a therapist. You can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance provider to see who they cover, utilize an employee assistance program, use on-campus services at your university, search the web, or use a website like Mind Diagnostics to help you find a provider in your area. All you have to do is type in your zip code and you’ll see a range of providers in your area with different qualities and specialties. If you struggle with finding the time for therapy or have a preference for remote sessions, you may consider seeing someone who works online. Regardless of how to reach out for support, it’s something to be proud of, so don’t hesitate to take the first step.