Depending upon your feed, scrolling through IG, TikTok or Facebook can feel like discovering a treasure trove of quick tips on all things self-growth and mental health. Yet, while social media has seemingly become a mecca for mental health resources, tips and maxims which certainly helps to broaden awareness of mental health matters and reduce the stigma around mental health, please remember, social media is NOT a replacement for taking care of your mental health. In fact, research has shown that too much time spent on social media has adverse effects on mental health.
So, in honor of Mental Health Month, here is a field guide for what it means to take care of your mental health and to actually “work on oneself.” Taking care of your mental health and working on yourself means setting aside time to patiently meet and get to know yourself, deeply, usually with the guidance of another perfectly imperfect but professionally trained human being who will help support and guide you to…
- Learn how to listen to your inner guide and innermost self
- Explore how your body, not just your thoughts, reacts to events and experiences and understand the nuances of your own unique personal, physical, felt sense of being alive
- Gently, curiously explore and question why you believe what you believe and challenge in supportive (not judgmental) ways certain core beliefs regarding their truth and utility as you grow, develop and mature
- Cultivate compassionate understanding of the different parts of your personality, and understand where or who they came from
- Tease apart which inner voices and parts are aligned with your truest self, and which are not
- Take accountability for what you bring into this world, into your relationships and life, not in a shaming and self-derisive way, but in a clear, firm, and humble way that supports maturation
- Cultivate appreciation for all the different ways in which you feel called to express your most authentic self and expand upon those ways
- Learn how to recognize signs of budding discomfort and learn healthy ways to self-regulate and manage and cope with discomfort and stress
- Learn the difference between sitting with pain and discomfort in growth promoting ways vs. dwelling upon pains or wrongs or excessive rumination that can lead one to feeling stuck and stagnant
- Recognize unhealthy or counterproductive habits or patterns and learn new ways of relating to yourself and others
- Build understanding of personal traumas and how they live in your body, infiltrate your thinking and manifest in your day-to-day living
- Process your traumas, gently and compassionately and in a way that deepens your connection with yourself and others
- Learn how to communicate effectively about your needs and respond to the needs of others empathically and honestly
- Hone your ability listen to your inner voice, your inner guide, your gut, your intuition as it speaks to you
- Learn what it means if someone, some experience or if an idea is truly aligned with your truth and when it is not
- Explore and understand your boundaries and how to navigate a world with others who are quite different than you
- Clarify what you value and ensure that the choices you make align with your values
- Learn new skills and deepen insight and awareness for how to navigate the natural and unnatural vicissitudes of life in an affirmative, fulfilling, satisfying way that ultimately adds to your life and the lives of others.
While a broad summation, each of these new endeavors will be deeper and more specific for each unique individual. Such work, depending upon your jumping off point and personal conditions and unique experiences varies in length and timing. Remember, there is no one-size-fits all approach for everyone, nor a quick fix for the trials, traumas, and tribulations we encounter as humans – and we will encounter them. While reading different split-second tips and maxims might be inspiring and thought-provoking, the real work takes time, patience practice and commitment and it can be truly life altering.