Mental health is important, but it can feel like a complicated topic. You may know firsthand how hard it can be to deal with the constant and ever-changing challenges that you’re experiencing.
People will sometimes seek help, but others are reluctant for so many reasons. Some of the biggest perceived barriers are costs and intimidation. There’s an idea running through our culture that therapy interventions need to be expensive or intensive if they’re going to improve a person’s mental health. But some of the biggest improvements people can make to their mental health come from the most basic-seeming tips.
The following are five simple suggestions from our therapists in St. Louis that can make an enormous difference in your mental health, and they cost mostly just self-compassion and vulnerability.
1. Learn To Rest:
Society tells us that it’s bad to take a break; you have to constantly be productive or you’re a failure. Society is wrong. Give yourself a break!
This can be tricky if you’ve been conditioned to push yourself and work too hard, but it's essential for your mental health that you rest. A good way of knowing when it’s time for a break is by frequently checking in with yourself to see how you’re feeling. Ask yourself whether you’re feeling run down. Do you have a lot of tension in your body? When was the last time you took a day for yourself? If the answers to these questions indicate that you’ve been going pretty non-stop, it’s probably a good idea to take some time off to refill your emotional tank. This takes practice; society has ensured resting doesn’t come naturally to most of us anymore.
So put in the time and effort to learn how to take a break, and decide how to use that break to feel legitimately refreshed and rested.
2. Accept Help From Others:
Learning how to ask for help is one of the most critical skills you can develop to support your mental health. In spite of what so many of us think, asking the people around you for support is a sign of true strength and courage, not weakness.
When you know your limits and ask for help from friends, family, or colleagues, it shows that you’re using all your available resources to make sure you are doing okay. So often we think we have to fight our battles alone. But why would we want to play the game of life alone and on hard mode when we don’t have to? Pick a support team and go multiplayer. It’s not just smart, it’s also incredibly brave.
3. Be Open About Your Mental Health:
Mental health struggles aren’t a shameful secret. So many people are dealing with anxiety, depression, disordered eating, or OCD. You name it, it’s very likely you know someone dealing with a mental health condition. The reason you might not be aware of others’ challenges is that for so long everyone felt like they had to hide their struggles. It felt shameful to talk about, and it was hard to find support if you did speak up.
But thankfully, times are changing. Even if certain loved ones might not support you talking about your mental health, it’s easier to find someone who will.
When you share about your mental health, you’re doing a few great things at once. First, you are adding to your support team. You have another person you can reach out to when you need a shoulder. Second, you are helping get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness. When you talk about your struggles, you’re not only finding support for yourself but you might be letting someone else know they can talk about what they’re going through. You might even find out a lot of people you know have also been fighting in silence. When we start to speak about mental health, we make room for others to share their own stories and we create networks of support.
You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your mental health, and you shouldn’t disclose in a situation that doesn’t make you feel safe. But if you know someone you can confide in, you will be giving both yourself and them a gift. Because even if they’re not dealing with mental health challenges as well, you are showing you trust them with something vulnerable. This can bring a friendship to new levels of trust and connection.
4. Understand What ‘Realistic’ Looks Like For You:
When people work on their mental health, either alone or with a therapist, many have an unfortunate tendency to pick goals that sound ideal. They want to be able to function in the ways society has told them they ‘should’. But sometimes those goals aren’t realistic. If someone’s dealing with depression severe enough that they can’t get out of bed, expecting that they will be able to get up and manage an entire household in just a few weeks isn’t reasonable. If you struggle to keep your house livable, it’s not realistic to think you’ll be able to keep it spotless after just a few months of therapy.
This doesn’t mean you can’t reach for the stars. But it does mean that you need to think about what’s achievable for you in the moment, not just what you wish was achievable. Picking things that are far out of reach is a good way to make yourself feel like a failure before you even get started. Understand that goals can be set in steps; you don’t have to conquer the world right away. And if you avoid saddling yourself with the expectation of perfection right out of the gate, you will have so much more potential success long-term.
This is literally the most important tip on this list. I know it sounds basic, but sleep is so important for your mental and physical health. Even if you’re working with a fabulous therapist, you will get so much less out of it if you’re sleep deprived. Your brain needs that time to process your day and to rest from the intense work of keeping you awake and functioning. Trying to maintain good mental health without sleep is like trying to water a whole garden with a squirt gun.
Unfortunately, mental health challenges frequently interfere with sleep. This makes it hard to get the benefits of a good night’s rest. So don’t shame yourself if you can’t get the sleep you need, but finding ways to increase the amount of quality sleep you get should be high on your list of priorities. It will do you so much good and make it easier to get to the places you want to go with your mental and physical health.
While there’s no pill or magic trick that will instantly fix your mental health, there are many helpful tips like the ones in this article that can help you find the resources and support you need to heal. These basic therapy tips are simple. They may not be easy; making big changes can be challenging and taxing at first. But the long-term payoff from developing these habits and using these tips will make up for that initial struggle.
Even when the tips are simple, many people still need support to put them in place. That’s okay. Everyone needs help sometimes. If you are in St. Louis and would like some help creating good habits and developing self-compassion, the therapists at Marble Wellness would love to be there for you. Our team is trained to help people manage stress, set boundaries, increase their vulnerability, and develop resilience. We would love to walk alongside you to help you find and use new strategies that will help you achieve the happier and healthier life that you deserve.
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Additional Counseling Services at Marble Wellness in St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL
Counseling services designed to help set you on a path of living a more fulfilled, calm, and happy life.
Our St. Louis team of therapists have a variety of training backgrounds and areas of expertise. We specialize in anxiety, depression, grief, chronic illness, therapy for men, couples, and maternal overwhelm. We can also help new moms with various postpartum concerns, moms in the thick of parenting, and moms with teens. We can also chat from wherever you are in the state with online therapy in Missouri and online therapy in Illinois. No matter where you are in your journey, we would love to support you.
Our Chicago team of therapists offer a wide range of mental health services to help our clients through the different challenges and hurdles in their life. In addition to anxiety, depression, grief, therapy for men, and maternal overwhelm, we are specialized in professional burnout, therapy for breakups, and love partnering with working moms.