About 1 in 5 US adults lived with a mental health concern in 2020, or about 52.9 million people.
Research shows that poor mental health causes a 35 percent decrease in productivity, and nearly 50 percent of people with severe mental health issues struggle with substance abuse.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg; only the observable effects of poor mental health.
When mental health takes a backseat, it can lead to an array of other issues, such as the ones mentioned above, and other less-obvious problems.
As we’re busy struggling to meet expectations and fulfill responsibilities, our mental well-being can slowly fall off our ladder of priorities.
However, this can be costly (both emotionally and financially) in the long run.
Taking steps to prioritize your mental health can help you enjoy a more fulfilling life both personally and professionally. Here are five ways to do that:
1. Consider a Luxury Rehab Center
First, think about your habits and whether you engage in behavior that might harm you or your loved ones. This could include impulsive behavior like substance abuse or gambling, or even parts of your personality, like being highly suspicious.
If this is something that’s a concern for you, you can put your mental health first by opting for rehab treatment.
Rehab centers cater to the individual needs of patients struggling with psychological disorders or poor mental health. Treatment programs help you to reform and manage your mental health issues and access necessary care.
To seek professional help, look up local rehab centers in your area and choose a treatment center that addresses your mental health concerns.
The best rehab center California offers, for example, boasts a complete spectrum of services designed to treat mental health issues and the person as a whole.
You can start your journey toward recovery and healing with expert guidance and assistance.
2. Build Social Connections
Being able to “talk about it” or “let it out” in front of people close to you can be therapeutic, as it alleviates stress and anxiety.
Moreover, studies show having meaningful connections with others can benefit your mental health outcomes. And most of us already have meaningful connections; we simply fail to speak up about our struggles.
Whether you rely on your parents, partner, or close friends for emotional support, engaging in enjoyable activities can improve your bond and help you feel comfortable discussing your problems.
You can strengthen these relationships by engaging in activities you both enjoy, calling loved ones on the phone, and visiting new places together.
Of course, meaningful connections aren’t always about having someone to talk to about your worries. It means enjoying someone’s company and looking forward to the time you spend with them.
You can build meaningful relationships by increasing your exposure to new environments. Try volunteering, take a neighborhood yoga class, or visit the local farmer’s market.
Ideally, you want to surround yourself with people who encourage you to put your mental health first.
3. Engage in Recreational Activities
Research indicates that boredom can be linked to mental health concerns and dysfunctional behavior. Similarly, studies show that engaging in organized recreational activities can indicate improved mental health.
These activities can promote the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, ensuring better mood and improved mental functioning.
Athletic activities such as swimming, taking walks, and dancing can also alleviate stress, which is a major predictor of poor mental health outcomes.
Similarly, creative activities like playing an instrument, making art, or even cooking can increase positive emotions.
If you don’t have the time to engage in recreational activities throughout the week, start by simply dedicating a few hours of the weekend to go hiking, take a dance class for beginners, or pull out your art supplies and easel and start painting whatever you like.
The simple act of taking time for yourself to do something you enjoy can have a big impact on your mood and overall mental health.
4. Learn to Say “No.”
When you’re faced with a task that can cause immense stress, you may wonder if turning it down to protect your mental health is a good decision. The answer is always yes.
Remember that prioritizing your mental health doesn’t mean tossing all your responsibilities aside. Rather, it refers to reframing your perceptions and having boundaries to protect you.
When you’re constantly saying yes to people, it creates an environment where others have expectations from you that are difficult to meet. As they expect more and more, you may start experiencing burnout.
To prevent this from happening, you have to learn how to say “No.” Sure, this may trigger some guilt initially, but over time you’ll be better able to set boundaries that let you thrive.
And turning down a task doesn’t have to sound rude. As long as you’re courteous and assertive, you’ll likely be surprised with how understanding others are.
5. Get Enough Sleep
In a time when people love bragging about how little they sleep and how they’re always working, you may underestimate the importance of getting enough zzzs.
However, the quality and length of sleep you get can significantly impact how you function. Each stage of your sleep cycle contributes to brain health, leading to improved memory, learning, and thinking.
When you don’t get enough sleep, it can exacerbate current mental health concerns, while increasing the risk of developing new ones.
If you want to start to prioritize your mental health, it’s important that you start getting enough hours of restful sleep each night.
Try some tips to help increase deep sleep, like having a set bedtime, reducing screen time before bed, or keeping a sleep journal.
Balanced mental health is essential for helping you be your best, whether at work, home, or school. When your mental well-being takes a backseat, it can impact numerous areas of your life.
Before that can happen, it’s best to take a step back and think about how you can best prioritize your mental health.
When you take the time to care for your mind as well as your body, you’ll likely find life becomes easier and less stressful with each passing day.