Mental health is something we can’t afford to ignore. In America alone, nearly 44 million adults experience mental illness in a given year, which is roughly one out of every five adults in the country.
And even people who don’t experience mental illness still have to manage the universal challenges of stress.
Prioritizing your state of mind as a fundamental part of your overall health can have huge benefits. These extend beyond anxiety relief and mood improvements to things like better sleep, fewer digestive issues, and reduced risk of heart disease.
Mental health is a continual process—nobody ever gets it completely “figured out.” But this year, you can take more control of your situation, and become your own mental health advocate. Discover some of the most impactful mental health habits, then start incorporating these rewarding behaviors in your normal routine.
Be intentional about tech-free time
The omnipresence of screens and other internet-linked devices is what makes our global society more connected than ever before. However, being plugged-in for too long can give you trouble with feelings of fatigue and isolation.
This year, you can be more mindful of your relationship with technology. Some best practices for screen time moderation include tracking your usage (lots of smartphones do this automatically), creating unplugged windows in your schedule, and reflecting on what kinds of unrewarding screen time you can cut out of your routine.
Try journaling and meditation
Activities that bring your presence of mind back inward, away from the daily grind, are essential for maintaining your emotional balance. If you struggle at times with feeling overwhelmed, the seemingly basic habit of writing down some thoughts or even just focusing on breathing can work wonders.
Even if you have zero experience with journaling and meditation, you can get started easily. Just start small! With meditation, for example, you don’t need any particular equipment or classes. Just close your eyes and see if you can be present with your breath for 60 seconds. Maybe tomorrow, you’ll be able to maintain that calm, clear-headed space for two minutes.
Meetup groups like Miami Energy Healing and Meditation keep members motivated with communal meditations you can join online from anywhere. Sacramento Creative Writing Workshops hosts special journaling events where guests write together in silence, from a place of open awareness, with nothing being read aloud and no feedback given.
Help yourself by supporting others, too
As fundamentally social creatures, all human beings thrive when we experience a sense of togetherness. In fact, helping other people can actually play a major role in your own journey of healing and happiness.
You don’t have to be an expert to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Chances are high that your experience of tough periods has parallels to people in similar circumstances. Bonding over these shared challenges and working together on solutions is what communities like New York New Parents Meetup Group and Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center Meetup are all about.
Get active physically and socially
It’s hard to feel too down in the dumps when you’re doing something that fills you with endorphins and helps you form new social connections, all at the same time. Now, if you combine those two elements with some outdoor time charging you up with Vitamin D, you’re sure to be much more healthy and resilient in 2024!
Luckily, there are tons of Meetup groups whose regular events check all of these boxes. Consider joining a community such as Dallas Cycling Trail Riders and Weekend Pub Crawler or Miami Dragon Slayers Dragon Boat Team Practices.
Make time for what you love
2024 has the potential to be a transformative year for anyone willing to be intentional about shaping their mental health journey. Embrace the principles of achievable goals, positive habits, and mutual accountability. Above all, do you!
One of the most proactive steps you can take is to create your own Meetup group! It’s quick and easy to start a community of people prioritizing mutual passions and hobbies alongside other self-care routines.
James Quigley is a writer, editor, and educator whose work has received Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominations. James was born and raised in New York, where he lives and works as a freelance writer. See more of his writing here.
Last modified on January 23, 2024