Approximately 1 in 5 adults will experience some sort of mental illness yearly. Common issues are (but not limited to) anxiety, stress and depression. When it comes to mental health, it’s vital to be proactive. Taking charge of your mental health and well-being is integral to living a healthy and balanced life.
I reached out to Maryam Atoyebi who’s been quite vocal about how she overcame her struggles with #mentalhealth, and she was happy to share some tips on how to take charge of yours this new year.
Although we’re a few weeks into the new year, we can all agree that everyone is still in the mood to set resolutions, plans and vision boards. While this is a good thing, for many of us who battle with mental illnesses, this can be a considerable challenge.
Mental illness, like physical illnesses, inhibit physical abilities in many cases through the many symptoms in which they manifest, so patients like myself would often struggle to carry out activities to the best of our abilities, just like when people have malaria.
So how does this tie into resolutions and the new year? Well, making and executing big plans poses a big challenge for many people, even those who do not suffer from mental illnesses.
As young women living in our very capitalist system coupled with the social media age, society sets ridiculously high standards for us – from financial independence to career and familial success. As such, we are expected to set lofty goals for ourselves based on these standards, which can be daunting, to say the least. It also doesn’t help that social media enforces these standards with the highly visual platforms where influencers subtly set the markers for success through their publicised lives.
While there is absolutely nothing wrong in aiming for excellence, it is crucial to be intentional while setting goals and making plans for 2020.
Here are a few suggestions I came up with as ways I intend to take charge of my mental health this year:
- It is okay to create your vision board at the end of January
There are literally 366 days this year. The rush to create resolutions and vision boards could make you anxious and confused. Take it one day at a time and work at a progressive, productive pace.
- Create your own definition of success
Like I mentioned above, the mainstream definition of success is heavily flawed. And so, you should tackle what success means to you, and ensure it comes from a place of fulfilment and peace.
- Set your goals as intentions
After defining what success means to you, you should set your goals as intentions, as in “I intend to contribute my writing skills towards feminist discussions and empowerment of women like me this year”. This is more intentional as opposed to a resolution like “I will write 50 articles this year”. In doing this, you define the motivation behind each goal and then actively work to bring them into fruition.
- Be kind to yourself and your heart
Take care of your mind, spirit and body by feeding your soul with positive content. Try to identify and possibly eliminate your triggers, even if it is something you care deeply about.
- Forgive yourself every single day
No matter how hard we work as human beings, we are destined to falter every now and then. More often than not, experiences from our past are the obstacles that prevent us from being our best selves. As you learn to forgive others, you should extend this to yourself, and push forward.
- Breathe, Breathe, Breathe
Everyone needs a breather every now and then. You should embrace breathing, both literally and figuratively, to keep your mind at rest during tense situations and environments.
- Take breaks from social media when you can
While this is ironic, given that you probably accessed this piece via social media, it’s still important to take breaks from all platforms. In addition to being toxic at times, social media could also affect productivity and focus. Switching out social media for other hobbies will also contribute to your self-discovery and growth.
Being healthy mentally can promote productivity and effectiveness in all aspects of your life.
*Photo credit – Diana Simumpande