Earlier this week, I wrote about some of the new symptoms of anxiety that I’ve been experiencing in the past few months. While it hasn’t been fun to learn how to manage and live with these new symptoms, it’s been another opportunity to work on what I like to call my mental health toolkit. Over the years, I’ve been able to create different coping strategies and methods to manage my mental health, and it’s played a big role in changing the way I view my health.
There are endless ways to build your mental health toolkit – the important thing to remember is your goal and how each of these things feeds into that. Here are five reminders when it comes to building your own mental health toolkit!
Mental Health is a journey. If I’ve written this once I’ve written it a thousand times, but that doesn’t make this any less true. Mental health is a journey for every single person, and while that can sound frightening at first, over time it’s brought more comfort than fear. It’s important to understand that we’re on a journey – one that isn’t linear and can go back and forth over time, one we’re allowed to mess up on. The quicker we understand that, the easier things are when they don’t go our way.
You can pick and choose what helps you. The reason I go out of my way to say something is my experience is for this very reason. When it comes to mental wellness, what might work for me might not work as well for you, and vice versa. We’re all different people who need different things. The best way to add something to your mental health toolkit is to see what works for YOU and no one else. You enjoy meditation? Go for it! Is deep breathing not your thing? That’s fine! The important thing is that you’re putting yourself first.
Just because it works doesn’t mean it has to be permanent. This was a tough thing to learn, but once I did I felt so much more freedom in my wellness. Just because you find something that helps you manage your mental health doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. I journaled for years and got a lot out of it, but in the past few years I didn’t enjoy doing it as much, so I stopped for now. I could very well pick it up again, but I knew that just because something worked well for my mental health now didn’t mean it always would.
You’ll still fail sometimes. Trust me, I don’t enjoy saying this, but it’s important to hear it. Not everything will be effective, and not everything you try will improve your mental wellness. I have a dozen self-help books in my storage bins that back up this fact 100 percent! But the main takeaway from those failures wasn’t disappointment (okay, it was at first, but that changed). The main takeaway was that I discovered another way that wasn’t helping me toward wellness, and which helped me avoid it in the future.
The bigger the toolkit the better. This is my favorite part about building a mental health toolkit – there’s no limit on how many tools you can use to manage your mental wellness. In fact, I encourage you to find as many things as possible to help you cope/manage your mental health! They important part of building this toolkit is to find ways that help your mental wellness and help you live a healthy lifestyle. If that’s the most important goal, there’s no limit on what you can add.