As we begin this New Year, I want to wish you a happy new year and a mentally healthy decade ahead.
The greatest decision you can make for yourself and your loved ones is to decide to actively pursue optimal mental health and wellbeing. This will go a long way to guarantee your progress in all aspects of your life. “There is no health without mental health”!
I wish to give you five tips that will enhance your mental health this year.
1. Know more about yourself and your mental health.
- Learning about oneself is the first step towards optimal mental health. A lot of people fail to acknowledge who they are and what their strengths and weaknesses are. If you know that you can’t work under immense pressure, then you have to ensure that you carefully plan to save yourself the stress of working under intense pressure towards meeting deadlines. Make out time to read about the causes, prevention and treatment options for mental illness. Broadening your knowledge on this topical issue will go a long way to help you in keeping yourself away from mental ill-health.
2. Cut down your use of alcohol and other psychoactive substances.
- Alcohol is the most readily available psychoactive substance. The use of alcohol cannot be abolished in any society. Even in populations where the use of alcohol is outlawed for religious or other reasons, it is common knowledge that people in such societies still find ways of getting supplies of alcohol. The truth is that there are a lot of health benefits to stopping the use of alcohol. For persons who find it difficult to stop abruptly or completely, a gradual reduction in alcohol consumption has immense physical and mental health benefits. Cutting down the use of alcohol for some people might imply stopping the use of alcohol completely.
3. Manage your memories.
- What we think about most times are materials (objects, images, words, and emotions) that are stored in our memory. What we ruminate upon can either provoke a feeling of wellbeing, anger or anxiety; depending on what the content is. You have to learn how to manage your memories to secure your stable mental state devoid of negative emotions. If you have experienced failures or shortcomings in 2019, this is not the time to brood over your negative experiences. It is the time to plan your strategy for successes while focusing on examples from people who have succeeded in such endeavors. Avoid the temptation of getting frustrated by the memories of other people’s successes. The same success story can be interpreted as a valid roadmap for your progress at your own pace and time! While amnesia isn’t so good, selective amnesia for memories (people, places, events, experiences) that provoke negative emotions or distressful feelings is very healthy and essential for us to cope at times. Making out time for meditation on mentally healthy memories have immense benefits.
4. Get enough sleep and rest.
- Normal sleep is the body’s most important physiological activity designed by God for optimal growth, repair, restoration and perfection of the body’s mental and physical functioning. Imagine a man who buys a brand new generator and continues to run it without stopping it. He even designed a means of refueling the generator while still in action. The generator will eventually breakdown. This is what it’s like for us to be working without getting enough sleep or rest. I always try to distinguish between sleep and rest. You can have a rest without sleeping. You can also have a sleep that is not restful. It is quite common for mental health professionals to explore the quantity of sleep. We always want to know how “restful” or fulfilling the sleep episode had been. Not getting enough sleep or rest is a prelude to a lot of physical and mental health challenges. Make it a resolution to strive to improve your sleep and your rest this year. Individuals who sleep better and rest adequately have a lower risk of mental illness. Sleep difficulties are also the most common complaint in persons who have a mental illness.
5. Be ready to share.
- Be ready to share your thoughts, worries, concerns, troubles, problems, etc. with someone. When you encounter challenging situations that threaten your inner peace, it pays to share your concerns with others. You need to have a conversation about it with the “RIGHT” person. Knowing who and when to share might be a challenge. The first step is to make up your mind that you need someone to talk to. It might be your spouse, partner, friend, associate, mentor, pastor, Imam, life-coach, therapist, psychiatrist, teacher, etc. The list is endless! Knowing the right person depends on what the issues are. Sharing your worries can bring about direction, solution or guidance. The guidance or solution always brings about relief and eventual problem-solving inspirations. These inspirations will reduce the emotional distress associated with the source of worry. Problem-solving activities will then commence.
Prevention of mental illness across all ages is quite essential for optimal functioning. If we cannot prevent it, then we need to diagnose early and provide evidence-based interventions.
You will be surprised how cheap these interventions are and how costly it is not to prevent or treat early when the needs arise.
Have a “mentally healthy” 2020!!!