Is mental health a pillar on your 2022 vision board?
I hope your answer is yes because there is no health and happiness without mental health. It shouldn’t be something you push to the side or ignore this year. If there is one thing the pandemic taught us is to prioritize our mental health because life comes at us so fast sometimes and the next thing we know is that we’re sad, lonely, and depressed wondering how to get ourselves out of that rut. Your mental health should always come first because if your mind and spirit are not okay, your quality of life will significantly go down.
2022 is really not that year we leave our mental health on the shelf because we’re too caught up in our own lives to intentionally invest in it. This year we must thrive regardless of what we may face. We’ve learned quite a bit about taking care of ourselves in a pandemic and we’re still adapting; now is the time to work towards wholeness. We learned some lessons the hard way through survival and loss. We gathered strength we hoped we’d never need to get through the worst. We witnessed the world shifting and readjusting itself to accommodate change. We learned to be resilient and get through those tough emotions. And even if you didn’t learn any of these things, you’re still here and that’s all that matters.
We still have so much to learn and this post is meant to help you do just that! This is an easy-to-understand format for mental healthcare that should guide you every day and in all seasons. Let’s get into the 4M’s of mental health:
“Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh
This is the art of being intentional with your attention. There are so many distractions in today’s technological world that have made us addicted to our devices and decreased our attention spans. The average American checks their phone up to 63 times a day and spends about 5.4 hours scrolling through social media. These statistics are alarming and they can only get worse as time goes by and more inventions come.
Mindfulness is quite literally taking your power back from everything that is meant to stray you away by deliberately and actively being present with yourself. It’s about taking notice of every activity you do and showing up fully while doing it instead of operating on autopilot. Notice with your five senses; hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, and smelling. Notice how you wake up, brush your teeth, walk, interact with others, eat, do your work, and think. Accept every emotion that comes and release yourself from judgment if it’s unpleasant.
“Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV, and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.” - Dr. James Levine, Director of Mayo Clinic.
Most of our jobs continue to tie us to working behind a desk and glued to our computers. The most movement we do is while commuting or going to grab some lunch. Our lifestyles don’t support the movement we need to properly function. We’ve become so sedentary which increases the risk of death by 71%, cardiovascular disease by 147%, cancer by 66%, and diabetes by 112%.
Movement doesn’t have to be aggressive. Start small with a dance, walk, swim, cycle, skate. Then graduate to running and long-distance walking. Go to the gym and make use of the treadmill. Just ensure that your muscles are stretched. Movement triggers the release of our body’s happy hormones which improve our wellbeing.
“Mastery is not a function of genius or talent. It is a function of time and intense focus applied to a particular field of knowledge.” – Robert Greene
Is there something you do really well or want to learn? Fully immerse yourself into developing it until you become a pro. Aim to be the best you can possibly be at that thing. I recommend something that grows you and makes you happy or something you’ve always been curious about like cooking, drawing, painting, dancing, photography, new language, pottery, knitting, etc.
Invest in learning those skills you may have missed out on as a kid like swimming, bike riding, martial arts, skating. It could also be job-related like learning how to use software and systems. Stay curious about yourself and what your interests are or evolve to become. It’s never too late to start. At the end of the year, you can look back and be proud of yourself for trying something and getting good at it.
“One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.” – Jean Vanier
We need other people because we are wired for connection. Look for people you can do life with and I know that’s becoming increasingly hard these days. Make friends with your neighbors. Strike conversations with strangers. Perform random acts of kindness. Volunteer in your neighborhood. Intentionally schedule activities with friends. Call your family. Join societies that share the same values as you. Find like-minded people and groups online that you can engage with.
It’s the small things that matter. Be genuinely interested in people, what they have to say, who they are, and how you can help them. Don’t forget to maintain the current relationships you have. Maybe it’s time to reconcile or touch base with that friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Maybe it’s time to take your family on a vacation. Think of community as a system of support where you build bridges you can walk on when things get tough or simply sources of laughter and connection.
Remember your mental health is your wealth. So many things fall apart without it.