Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!
Being the last Saturday of May, I wanted to use this time to speak about the importance of this particular subject; it being because May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Let’s ask this simple question: have you done a mental health check-in this month?
I ask because it’s something that I believe a lot of us glance over, and we seem to only “check-in” when things are already bad. I know in the past, I didn’t check in until things got really bad, and I honestly believe that a lot of my “dark places” could’ve been avoided if I checked in with myself a lot more frequently.
Mental health check-ins are important because they make you more self-aware of the behaviors you’re distributing and how you are handling the situations currently going on in your life. To even take a couple of minutes out of your day to reflect on the things that you felt or went through that particular day can be so helpful to keep yourself balanced and keep your mental health in a healthier place.
Some of the things we should ask ourselves when we do some mental health check-ins could be:
- Did I do anything to relax my mind today? I know for those who are in school and those who work full-time jobs, it’s very easy to not give your mind a break, and in more serious cases, many of us could become burnt out, which could cause your mental health to become worse. During my grad school days, my mental health quickly worsened because I was allowing myself not to have those breaks in between assignments and final papers. Moving forward in life, whether that be doing job hunting our research for my next project, I am more aware of the signs that my mind and body are telling me that I need a break from what I’m working on. Also, I now know that it’s okay to take those breaks: work smarter, not harder.
- Why did that one thing ruin my day? Sometimes, I allow bad moments to ruin my day, and I’ve realized I never asked myself why did that one thing ruin my day? Was it a mood-related thing? Was it something that I let get to me? Was it something I could’ve handled when it happened? Reflecting back on the event that could’ve turned my day sour allows you to become more aware of your behaviors and reactions to that specific event. For example: A couple of weeks ago, I started one of my days on a good note, but as soon as I went to my therapy session and something that was discussed made me feel judged, I’ve allowed it to ruin my entire day. Coming out of that funk took longer than I would’ve liked, but I know that in the long run, I know to not allow my anxieties about people judging me to ruin my day. Of course, there are going to be other times where I may feel that way and tense up because of it, but I know to check-in and tell myself that it’s not to be taken personally and that I shouldn’t allow it to ruin my day.
- How am I *really* feeling in this exact moment? Again, it’s so easy to allow the days just take you without being honest with yourself about how you may really be feeling. It’s easy to say “I’m fine, tomorrow’s another day” or “It’s just a bad day, tomorrow’s another day”. From experience, minimizing your feelings is never a good thing, and in some cases, you’ll minimize your feelings to point where the clear signs your mind and body are giving you to take care of yourself are going unnoticed. Sometimes, you have to be your own “is everything okay?”. Check-in and be honest with yourself; if you felt sadder than usual, take note of that. Say out loud that you aren’t okay because the more you speak these feelings out into the world (even if you are by yourself), the easier it gets to ask for help and admit that you aren’t doing okay.
Of course, there are so many other questions that you should be asking yourself, and they come from your own experiences and ways you are able to care for yourself. Maybe asking yourself if you read a chapter of your book (for fun) as your “self-care time”, or if you did something that was on your list of things you wanted to do in the last week or so. Still, it’s important that every once in a while you give yourself a mental health check-in, and yes, even do them on your friends and family!
Make sure to check in every once in a while!