How to Make Yourself and Your Mental Well-Being a Priority
by Veronica Joce — 5 min read
Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about creating a positive change—in our lives, in the way we exist as a humanity, in the world. We acknowledge that in order to make these changes, we need to be aligned with our core values, be motivated and ready to overcome challenges, stay emotionally and physically resilient, and be happy. But, sometimes, while focusing on making the difference and delivering value to those around us, we tend to forget the key element to success—ourselves, our health and our mental well-being.
When you are working hard to achieve your goals, you can easily put your self-care needs aside. Deadlines dictate your to-do list; stress and fatigue start to accumulate because of long working hours; and you get lost in the vortex of screens and information overload. Putting your needs aside leads to a burnout, disconnection from yourself and your values, stress, anxiety and other mental illnesses that you may not notice until the wake-up calls start to appear.
In this article, we want to remind you that you are your number one priority. To show up for your career and community, you have to show up for yourself first. Maybe you cannot fully control the demands of everyday life, but you can prioritize self-care and put your well-being on your to-do list. The following steps will explain how you can do that and will help you become more self-aware in order to manage your emotional resilience and physical health.
Talk about it
Give yourself permission to express your feelings and emotions. Talking about how you feel and sharing that something is not right does not make you weak, different or incapable of something—it is an essential part of creating a safe and supportive environment to live and work in. It is also a first step toward making self-care your priority. Reach out to loved ones, talk to your team, find a community, try therapy or seek medical professional help—do whatever feels right to you.
Realize self-care is a necessity, not a luxury
As Audre Lorde said, your self-care is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation. Taking care of yourself is an indispensable part of unleashing your full potential, achieving peace of mind, living a joyful happy life, and creating a positive change within yourself and the world around you. Self-care is not something you step away from work for and then feel guilty for “wasting” the time to do so, it is how you are investing in yourself to become your most valuable asset. Make it part of your life and part of your job.
Block time for yourself and put it on the calendar
As Tim Ferriss, guru of productivity, advises, if you want to remember to do something, block time for it and put it on your calendar. Block time for your therapy sessions, exercise, or engage in your favorite unwinding rituals. Schedule regular check-ins and reflect on where your mind is focused on, what you need to adjust, and how you can help yourself become better and happier.
And remember, something as simple as taking regular breaks (even for 5 minutes), can be extremely beneficial for your overall well-being. Make sure that during that short period of time you do something that soothes your mind, soul and body.
Make self-care part of your daily routine
During times of uncertainty and stress, it is crucial to review your daily habits and create rituals and new systems for yourself that provide you with a grounding sense of peace and calmness. For some, it is reading, self-reflection through journaling, being close to nature, going for insightful walks and letting your mind wander. For others, it is having tea, cooking or just doing some breathing exercises.
Value your physical health
Start with basics:
Get enough sleep and normalize your sleep patterns;
Eat healthy, learn more about nutrition and figure out what your body needs;
These three key elements help you regenerate your energy, feel good physically and keep your spirits high.
Now is the time to decide what is truly important and re-center your priorities. It is hard to say “yes” to everything and everyone and still find time for yourself and your inner peace/therapy sessions. Sometimes work-family-me balance is hard to achieve (for some, it might be a myth), but you can learn how to say "no", delegate some of your responsibilities, change them, and set clear expectations with your team, family and friends.
Explore mindful living
Engage in mindful living and explore how being present and living in a moment can help you thrive and become more appreciative and empowered. Mindfulness activities––yoga, meditation, breathing exercises––help you become more self-aware, avoid getting carried away by distractions and getting lost in overwork and technology overload. By engaging in mindful living, you learn to stop reminiscing over the past and constantly thinking about the future, and you live in a present moment, giving full attention to your life and yourself, and engaging with those around you.
Be honest with yourself and tell how often you have been striving for perfection, exhausting yourself and sustaining an inhuman schedule. Perfectionism can quickly become an unhealthy habit that leads to anxiety, burnout and low self-esteem. Instead, be kind to yourself and focus on progress while pursuing your goals, and remember that “done” is better than “perfect”.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Remember that everyone has their own pace of progress and their own life story (and the struggles behind it), and that is why you can never fully compare yourself to another person, especially if you judge by what you see on traditional and social media. Instead, you can adapt a growth mindset that will turn comparisons into inspiration, and focus on yourself. The only person you have to compare yourself with is you. Are you a better person today than you were yesterday? Are you getting closer to your dreams? Are you living your life’s mission? Do you feel aligned with your values? Are you happy?.. All these questions help you focus your time, energy and money on understanding yourself, living to your full potential and becoming a better human being.
Keep calm and be grateful
Gratitude awakens appreciation for the life you have. It makes you feel grounded; it turns what you have into enough; it helps you build nurturing relationships; acknowledge the value and meaning of every experience you have; and it helps you create a positive mindset and attitude in life. Gratitude helps you love yourself, accept yourself, and build a sense of calm and quiet joy within.
You can start practicing gratitude with The Five Minute Journal. Its structured layout will help you focus on the positives in your life and become more mindful.
Regardless of what you do, the point is to have fun. Having fun is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself. Take some time to be playful, laugh, dance, engage in creative activities and light-hearted pleasures, do something bold, and enjoy the process—this helps you break tensions which positively affects your well-being.
Find a way to prioritize emotional health, and take time to discover what helps you relieve stress, soothe your mind and recharge your energy. Put self-care in your to-do list, always, because it is more important than your job, status or any material good. Your mental well-being is the priority, it is the new metrics of success, it is the new cool.
There are certain things we can do as individuals to overcome impostor syndrom stigma and live a rather fulfilling life. But first, let’s get acquainted with the phenomenon, as it’s the first step towards overcoming it.