Putting Yourself First

Seeking treatment and asking for help has become increasingly more common as mental health has stepped into the spotlight in recent years.

Research has attributed this to a conscious shift in focusing on your health, both physical and mental, which has been proven to be effective stress management tools. Self-love and positive thinking comes in many diverse forms, yet greatly influences your thoughts, beliefs, physicality, and overall well being in meaningful ways.

If you sense a concerning uptick in negative self-talk or feel like you have just been going through the motions of daily life lately, here are some proven (and totally doable) steps you can take to regain control of your mental health through self-care. Sometimes we just need a little push to see things in a different perspective to make small but significant changes.

Understanding Your Health

How you feel inside is as important as how you feel outside. The age-old saying rings true: mental health greatly affects what you think and how you behave, impacting your ability to work, play, and interact with others, and vice versa. When you have a negative perception of yourself, this affects your ability to cope with challenges when you’re too busy focusing on taking care of everything else but your own wellbeing. For example, it has been shown that even top-performing athletes are affected by their quality of self-talk. Positive thinking significantly helps them with endurance and performance, while the inverse minimises their stamina.

Taking care of your physical health can be a great way to subconsciously push yourself to feel better inside. “A person’s mind, heart, and body areall interconnected and interdependent in what can be termed ‘the mind-heart-body connection,’” says Dr. Glenn N. Levine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas.

Take some time out of your daily schedule for regular physical activity – be it setting aside 30 minutes a day for some yoga or making use of 10-15 minutes blocks of free time to go for a walk or quick run. Such self-care investments can energise your spirit and even alleviate any stresses.

If exercising regularly may seem too big of a leap, consider meditation. You just might be surprised by what only a few minutes of clearing your head can do for your mind. Just focusing on your breathing in a quiet place helps to get rid of any distracting thoughts, leaving you refreshed and recharged for what the day brings.

Keeping yourself well-nourished with a balanced diet is also essential in tending to your mental health. Good nutrition is proven to be a mood booster, providing important nutrition and sustenance to make your body, and consequently, your mind feel good.

Our Stress Could Hurt People Around Us

For many of us, we might have the wrong impression that prioritising everyone else’s needs above ours means that this will constantly keep others happy and satisfied. This is quite the opposite. Making time to pause and do the things that we hold meaningful to us, or forgetting to check in with ourselves actually affects how we relate to others.

Filling your day with responsibilities might seem like your life is put together, yet does not actually mean your needs are adequately met. This cycle makes stress feel like the norm, eventually having it catch up with you and eventually negatively impacting the people who care about us.

With mounting stress, its effects creep up and quickly prevent you from enjoying and living life to its fullest, affecting how we relate to others, causing more conflict, tension, irrational thoughts, and bouts of acting out. By prioritising our needs as complicated individuals, we will find value in chasing the things we deserve. By exuding self-love and confidence, we could then give more and dedicate more care to people around us.

Be Kind to Yourself

Staying anchored in the present and letting yourself feel and react to the full spectrum of emotions, both positive and negative, can also help you begin to confront these feelings and take proper action. Being in tune with your awareness of whatever is troubling you in turn makes identifying helpful solutions and practising self-love easier.

This might appear counter-productive to being kinder to yourself, but allowing yourself to experience all of your emotions allows you to react appropriately to your circumstances, paying more attention to the good things in your life instead of fixating on the bad.

What really matters to you? Show compassion to yourself by focusing on the qualities and values you strive to achieve. Instead of focusing on what you can’t change in the past, start thinking about what is the kind of person you aim to be, or what qualities you aim to embody.

Address challenges one step at a time and recognise the small ways you can achieve these goals and create concrete change. This mindfulness rewards you in gaining some measure of control of your life, and even the realisation that it’s better to let some things go.

Taking the First Step Towards Happiness

Always remember that you’re doing the best you can at this very moment, and that pursuing our passions and interests are what makes us come alive. When we start taking small steps to make time for our wants and needs, we become more giving of our fullest selves. Take control of your happiness by appreciating who you are and providing opportunities for fulfilment.

By paying attention to your core needs and showing compassion to yourself, it becomes easier to rekindle feelings of hope. Every action counts, however small. You’re on the right track!