October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a day designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to focus on a specific aspect of mental health. Past years have focused on suicide prevention, mental health in youth and mental health in the workplace. This year’s goal for the WHO’S Mental Health Day campaign is “increased investment in mental health“. I know that the WHO’s specific goal is to raise monetary donations for the very underfunded area of mental health support, but I want to look at this goal from an individual and non-monetary standpoint. It is so important for us to consciously invest in our mental health and in the mental health of those we love. How can we do this?
Invest time in yourself.
Invest time in yourself, not only because you deserve it (you do!) but also because you absolutely must if you’re to remain the best version of yourself for any period of time. If you feel too selfish when you’re investing time in yourself, then tell yourself that you’re doing it for others, so you can be your best for them. The best “shortcut” I’ve found is to wholeheartedly invest in quality time. No skimping, no multitasking, no cutting it short to tackle your todo list, or it doesn’t count!
Actionable idea : Block out time on your calendar. Write it in pen. Add it in red. Tell people it’s a mandatory meeting that can’t be skipped. Whatever you have to do so you remember the massive importance of investing time in yourself.
Invest time in your friends and family.
Close relationships are a real investment! Although it’s important to be kind to everyone and inevitably we all end up with a varied “tier” of friendships, I think that it is important to recognize which relationships you truly want to make an investment in and actively choose to do so. Life gets busy, the day rushes by, and it’s important that we continue to invest time into building those close relationships, showing those people that they matter and helping them know that they are supported.
Actionable idea : Create a list of the relationships that are most important to you and that you’d like to ensure that you are investing time into. Add these names into your planner, in a list on a sticky note or as a reminder in your e-calendar so you don’t forget to check in with them. Maybe you write each person a letter, telling them why they are important to you and what your friendship means, or maybe you send a quick text letting them know you’re thinking of them during what you know is a difficult week.
Invest energy and effort into your self care
Sometimes self care takes energy and real effort, especially if you’re having a difficult mental health week. And often, self care gets pushed to the end of the day or the end of the week when we’re already tired and all we want to do is sleep. Although there’s nothing wrong with sleep as self care, if we are in need of a form of self care the requires some energy or effort (like journaling, eating something healthy, speaking with our therapist or exercising), sleep might be delaying what we need.
Actionable idea : Tell yourself that you only need to expend energy or put in effort for a short period of time, like five or ten minutes. If you feel like continuing after this time, you can, but you only have to do it for this short period of time. I often tidy the kitchen at night while I’m boiling water and steeping my tea because I know that this is only ten minutes and I can expend that energy for ten minutes and will feel so much better when the kitchen is tidied.
Bonus actionable idea : Reward yourself after you’ve put in the effort. Tell yourself that “after I do [fill in the blank], I can enjoy [fill in the blank]”. After I have a meeting with my psychologist, I can enjoy a movie with my husband (real life example that I’m using on myself today). After I clean the kitchen, I can enjoy a cup of tea and my book.
Invest energy and effort into your friends and family.
Relationships are full of give and take and it is important to be there for friends and family who have helped us during our rough times. Be honest with yourself about how much energy and effort you have available for friends and family and in whom you are going to invest.
Some weeks you may have less energy and effort available than others, and that’s okay. I’d even encourage you to reach out to those close to you and let them know that you may be less available for a period of time, that you still care about them and that you’re looking forward to connecting the next week when things slow down and you have more energy available and more effort to put into the relationship. True friends and caring family members will understand and will appreciate the heads up (rather than feeling ghosted and wondering what happened to you).
Actionable idea : When you have a couple of moments to yourself, ask yourself whether you are truly investing energy and effort into your friends and family and their wellbeing and mental wellness. Are there ways you’d like to improve?
As World Mental Health Day comes and goes, I hope that you and I can both remember the importance of choosing to invest in the mental health of ourselves and of those we love. It isn’t always easy and we may not always doing it perfectly, but it will sure be worth it in the long run.
How do you invest in your own mental health? How do you invest in the mental health of those you love? Let me know in the comments!