When someone has persistent physical pain, they usually see their primary care physician, and if that person has other specific health concerns, they may see a medical professional.
Imagine what would happen if we treated our mental health with the same urgency. Many people tend to put aside their mental health because it is intangible and can feel differently from the symptoms of physical health. Why don’t we treat our mental health the same way we treat our physical health?
Throughout history, physical health has been maintained at a much higher level than mental health, and while it is improving, there is still a lot of work to be done.
However, no matter how much we focus on physical health, it is important for us to remember that both are interdependent. The relationship between physical and mental health is a correlation, meaning that physical health may influence mental health and vice versa.
For example, physical illnesses may create mental health concerns or symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, while mental illnesses have been shown to significantly increase the risk of developing chronic physical illnesses. These examples illustrate why individuals may benefit from prioritizing their mental health.
If we work to prioritize our mental health, this allows for building positive life experiences and promoting resilience. Life often presents challenging circumstances, and having this resilience allows us to step back and live in a way that creates more joy and helps us achieve our goals.
A person who prioritizes mental health may find it easier to balance work, school, and personal life, and it becomes easier to set boundaries and make time for rest, hobbies, and social interaction.
You can try using these tips to help better prioritize your mental health and well-being:
– Sets goals. Take the time to identify your unique areas of mental health focus. Set goals and take the time to create healthy boundaries in order to address these concerns. This will help you in the process of working towards finding a peaceful balance in your life.
Research treatment. If therapy or treatment is something you’re considering, try doing some research about treatment options or mental health providers. Find stories people have shared about their journey with mental health and how it has affected them and their way of life.
Naturalizing experiences. Talk about your experiences with mental health challenges and encourage others to seek treatment, even if it’s just talking to someone. Remind others that therapy and treatment are not just about crisis care, but aim to positively influence individuals and provide them with healthy coping strategies.
– Be a defender. Listen to others and their experiences. Use this as a way to educate yourself and reduce stigmas associated with mental health treatment. Share resources with your loved ones and within communities to help break down barriers people may face when asking for help or sharing their stories.
Once you start prioritizing your mental health, you will begin to realize how capable you are and how strong you are. Taking the time to identify personal goals and concerns you may have about your mental health is one of the first steps towards having a more balanced life.
If you find that you are struggling to move forward after dealing with stressful situations or need help finding balance, it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional. They can provide you with tools for your mental health and healthy tips for coping.
Brittany Hammerlin is a psychiatric nurse practitioner and Director of Nursing at Centerstone, a nonprofit health system that specializes in mental health and substance use disorder services. Send comments to [email protected]