First things first let's hash the myth that the terms mental and emotional are interchangeable when it comes to health. Mental health refers to the ability to process information and emotional health refers to the ability to express feelings. Instead of being 'interchangeable,' think of them as 'tag teamers.' Both are EXTREMELY important to manage when wanting to improve your life.
Along with emotional and mental health, comes physical health. This includes the ability to live free of injury or illness. Although physical health is extremely important, it tends to be over-emphasized when people are wanting to take steps toward a healthier life. Unless you are comfortable and confident in your mental and emotional state, you will fail to reach your goals in your physical health. Either that, or you will put too much effort on being physically healthy that you will lose sight of your mental and emotional. Sorry to be rash, but it is true. The key here is #BALANCE.
I posted a question on my story saying "What makes you happy?" This tapping into the emotional state of mind. Although this is a simple question, it is often hard to answer. Quite frankly, many people responded with answers relating to people or specific things. For example, "making other people happy," "family," "my kids," "my girlfriend," "the ocean," etc. (MORE POSTED BELOW, YUH) These are all good answers, but a great answer takes it a step further and questions what part of these things make me happy. For example, if you answered the ocean, what about it? Does it make you feel calm, relaxed, radiant? What about a family member or your kids? Do they make you feel comfort, security, a sense of belonging?
It is great that we can feel happiness from others, but ultimately we need to feel that happiness from within. If we are the source of happiness for others, how are we to help them if we cannot even help ourselves. Before going out of our way to fill other's jars, we need to make sure we have enough in our own personal jar to share.
HOW DO YOU FILL YOUR MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL JARS?
I am sure you have heard these things a million times (or some variation), and it seems to be easier said than done. Like I have noted in my post Starting a New Lifestyle Regime, when starting out with any new lifestyle change, baby steps are crucial. First off, many people complain about not having enough time to themselves. I respond by asking, "What time do you wake up? Go to bed?" Many people my age (22) go to bed at extremely late hours, falling asleep drunk, on their phones scrolling though social media, or wondering why they cannot sleep. Subsequently, these people wake up late, immediately checking their phone for notifications for anything they missed, and spend their days catching up with the world, reacting to what's being thrown at them. The problem with this is you are NOT IN CONTROL of your OWN LIFE.
Something that has helped me come out of an extremely deep hole is just starting to wake up earlier, start my day by getting in some light exercise (I walk my dog for a mile), and planning my day/week/etc. ALL BEFORE CHECKING MY PHONE. This switch allowed me to actively be in control of how my day is going to pan out. It allows me to accomplish more in a day, it allows me to have the most productive "me time" DAILY.
After doing this for a few weeks, I realized that a lot of my stress and anxiety was coming from not being in control of my life. I was reacting to my environment rather than creating my own environment. I started to become addicted to the idea of constantly improving myself.
Another thing many people suggest for mental health is reading books. Today there are seemingly millions of self-help and motivational books. There also seems like there is not enough time to read them. A small switch I made in my day was putting down my phone when I was preparing for bed, and lifting up a book. There are so many studies that state that falling asleep to the 'blue light' has negative effects, and I am here to say that falling asleep reacting to social media will have a negative effect on taking control of your life. Grab that bitch by the ass and LOVE IT, TAKE CARE OF IT.
My Challenge to You:
First figure out what makes you truly happy. Dig into the deeper meanings and follow that shit. If your initial response is a person or a thing, think about WHAT about that person or thing makes you happy. Seek those feelings out in other areas of your life, constantly be filling your life with new, fresh, happy items. If the ocean makes you happy because you like the feeling of calmness, relaxation, and stress free, find other activities that provoke those feel-good feelings within you. Such as hiking, driving with the windows down, or going for a walk. Notice how these activities provoke similar emotions.
Do not become over dependent on one thing that makes you happy. The key here is #BALANCE, amiright? 1. If you rely on one or two things to make you happy, what happens if that is unaccessible at the moment? If music makes you happy, yet you are at work and cannot listen to music, what can you find AT WORK that provokes the same emotional response? 2. Becoming too involved in one thing makes you lose sight of all the amazing things that are happening RIGHT NOW around you. Find happiness in the moment.
Secondly, I challenge you to make one small switch to your life for the better. Whether that is waking up earlier to give you "me time," putting down your phone at night and picking up a book, or taking time in the middle of the day to pause and have an hour to you. WHATEVERRRR floats your boat, make that shit SAIL. Let me know how you have made a positive switch.
Wake up everyday challenging yourself. Instead of trying to chase a "better you," turn that energy into "finding within." You already are great. You already have all these great qualities about you. We are just so quick to hyper-focus on the negative aspects about ourselves rather than the positive. Hell, it's seen to be "selfish" to talk about the positives in your life so people turn to only talking negative about themselves because its "cool" to be sad.
You speak your future into existence. Why not manifest a more positive future? You have the power to shape your future, WHY NOT fill it with great experience. I challenge you to wake up everyday with a mission to do at least one thing that makes you smile. Take those baby steps toward a great future.
Although I am not a mental health expert, I am human and I have lived through it. I have experienced days where I do not feel like getting out of bed, or feeling like I cannot make any social interaction. I dug deep and realized I have not always been this way. But I have let myself only focus on the negative, letting myself falling into a downward spiral that seemed impossible to reach out of. I am finding myself, embracing my great qualities, and constantly working toward the Hayley I want to be. Now, it's your turn. Even if you do not follow my steps, I hope you take something from this article and can apply it toward your life. We all have room to grow and improve.