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As we head into 2022, many of us are making our lists and setting our sights on self-improvement — striving to become the best version of ourselves. We often set resolutions on physical changes that we wish to see and are committed to making our efforts count. Physical transformation is what many strive for, but I’m here to remind you that mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Why not make it a priority in your life and commit to putting your mental health first in the new year? 

Prioritizing mental health can be hard. And for many, factors like stress, depression, anxiety and burnout can make it even harder to take the necessary steps to maintain or improve mental health. If this describes you, commit to the following:

 

Practice self-care

Self-care isn’t selfish. Establishing time to focus on yourself and what makes you feel the best can in turn, improve your mental health. Incorporating healthy self-care habits like getting a proper amount of sleep, exercise and spending time in nature can provide a gateway to positive mental health. In 2022, try exploring new stress-free hobbies that keep you feeling relaxed, these could include painting, photography, gardening, cooking and more. Whatever form your self-care may take, take it seriously.

 

Learn how to say no

With life moving so fast, you can begin to stretch yourself too thin and take on tasks that may cause unnecessary stress and burnout. Your time is a valuable resource, and not giving yourself the ability to focus on yourself can have a negative impact on your life. Though it may be difficult to say no to some requests, it’s important to learn how to say no for the sake of your own well-being and mental health. Rather than falling into the habit of saying yes, learn how to consider your actions and what you’re facing.

Ask for help

When faced with hard times, retreating and isolating yourself can become a common response, but not everything should be faced alone. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness but instead a sign of bravery and self-awareness that you should embrace in 2022. If you are struggling with your mental health, consider reaching out for advice, guidance or just someone to listen. This will allow you to feel heard and understood.

 

Unplug

While this may not be an easy task, limiting your screen time and distancing yourself from constant technology can help you achieve a better work-life balance and have a positive impact on your mental health. With most of us actively using our devices or always carrying them, they can be hard to let go of. For many of us, our bright phone screens are the first thing we see when we wake up and the last thing we glance at before bed. In 2022, putting your mental health first could mean putting your phone down. 

 

See a mental health professional

Whether it be a therapist, life coach or other, seeking professional help may seem intimidating at first, but once you are able to discuss your difficulties you can then begin to grow and learn how to better manage your emotions and understand why you feel the way you do. Though you may be reluctant seeing a mental health professional or returning back to one, it is one of the crucial steps for some that puts them on the track to putting their mental health first. PT

Rochelle Ryan is director of West Valley Behavioral Health for Jewish Family & Children’s Service. For more information about JFCS programs and services, visit jfcsaz.org.