Mind and body are often put into two separate categories and treated as two entirely different entities. If you do find a therapist or treatment plan that actually treats your mind and body as two parts of the same whole, you can expect it to go a little something like this: address the issues with your physical health and the mental health side will fall into place.
However, while the benefits of good physical health and exercise on your mental well-being cannot be argued, it’s hard to take the steps you need to optimize your physical health when your mental health is keeping you from even getting out of bed.
Instead of focusing on your physical health, try looking at things from a different perspective and put your mental health first. In a busy, non-stop world like the one most of us live in, that can be nearly impossible, but taking the first step and putting yourself first can make a world of difference. So – how can putting your mental health first change your outlook and benefit your physical health at the same time?
Why Is This So Important?
Why is this focus on mental health so important? It’s all in the numbers. Millions of adults struggle with some form of mental illness. And if our minds aren’t well, it makes it extremely difficult for our bodies to perform physically. Stress may seem like a mental thing, but it manifests itself physically in our bodies. It’s important to address our mental wellness, because our physical health is essentially dependent on it.
Where to Start
The first thing you need to do is get rid of the idea that physical health has to always come first. While it’s not a good idea to neglect any part of your health and well-being, it’s important to keep in mind that you probably can’t perform at your best physically, if you’re struggling mentally.
Step 1 – Disconnect
This is often one of the hardest steps, especially for those of us who throw ourselves into our jobs or other activities. The first step to putting your mental health first is disconnecting from everything that places demands on you — that includes your job, your spouse or significant other, your kids (if possible) and, especially, your smart phone.
It may sound selfish — however, it’s anything but. In fact, disconnecting yourself from everything that might be tugging at your shirt tails or skirts is a great way to help improve your mental health.
Step 2 – Ask for Help
For many people, asking for help is nearly impossible. This is doubly true whenever you’re dealing with mental illness and the inevitable stigma that accompanies it. The trick is to figure out what you need, and then seek out that specific thing.
Do you need a doctor who will work with you to find the right cocktail of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and other medications? Or do you need a therapist who can walk you step-by-step through the things you need to do to help improve your mental health?
Once you figure out what you need, there are plenty of resources to help you find what you’re looking for in your area.
Step 3 – Enjoy
You may not profit in the sense of padding your bank account, but the profit you’ll receive in regards to your mental health is impossible to count.
You spend the majority of your time wrapped up in doing things that other people need or want, whether it’s because of a job or a friend that needs a ride to the grocery store, or any of the hundreds of other things that may come up during the course of the day. Step three is less about profit and more about learning to say no. The most important part of step three is figuring out how to put yourself first and practice self-care.
It’s not selfish to need some time to yourself. It’s not selfish to tell someone no, I don’t want to go out tonight. It’s not a bad thing to step back and focus on yourself instead of on everyone else around you. You might even find that after doing so, you end up treating the people around you even better than before.
Learning to put yourself first might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but once you figure it out, the benefits are exponential. Take the time to address your mental health, and you’ll find that everything else will begin to fall into place. You’ll be working on the things that are keeping you from enjoying your physical health. Take the first step, and you might be amazed at how you feel.