Most people make a point to periodically check in with their physician about their physical health, schedule regular cleanings with their dentist, and meet regularly with colleagues to talk about their work progress. When did you last check in on your mental health and well-being?
Incorporating a regular practice of checking in on your mental health and emotional well-being can help to ensure that you remain happy and healthy throughout the years. Here are five emotional checkups that you can use to gauge your needs and maintain recovery.
1. Speak with a Professional
The best way to perform an emotional checkup is to speak with a professional clinician. Meeting regularly with a therapist or counselor can help you assess your emotional state, understand your current challenges, and make an action plan to get some relief.
Therapists can help you find short-term interventions while working toward long-term progress. When you meet regularly with a mental health professional, they can gain deep insight into your personality, strengths, and challenges. They may even be able to recognize the warning signs of an impending crisis before you do.
You don’t need to be in the midst of a crisis before you start working with a mental health professional. Therapists are trained and experienced in helping people with various issues that extend far beyond mental illness alone.
A therapist can help you set personal goals, track your emotional well-being, and even help you navigate work and social relationships.
2. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is a great way to maintain your emotional well-being. There are countless ways to practice self-care: the trick is to find a few practices that work for you. Examples of self-care practices include:
- Spa days
- Spending time in nature
- Yoga and meditation
- Spending time with friends or family
Self-care practices are simply activities that make you feel good, reduce your stress levels, and can help prepare you for future hardships. Self-care can provide tremendous relief, especially when life’s responsibilities and obligations cause an imbalance.
If you’re new to self-care, try picking one activity you enjoy and setting time aside once or twice a week dedicated solely to that practice. Then, feel free to increase the amount of time you need to feel refreshed or incorporate new activities into your routine.
Self-care is distinct from mindless activities. It might initially feel good to scroll through your phone, plop in front of the TV, or zone out with your favorite snack, but most people don’t feel restored or nourished (in body and mind) after these activities. Self-care practices should create a lasting positive effect on your emotional well-being.
3. Prioritize Quality Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important contributors to good mental health and overall well-being. Still, many people are chronically overtired and pressure themselves to wake up earlier, accomplish more throughout the day, and keep pushing well after the sun goes down.
Resisting rest is counterproductive. Even if you are awake for more hours, people tend to be less productive when they haven’t experienced quality sleep.
Sleep deprivation can have severe consequences on your mental health. Not getting enough sleep can amplify symptoms associated with:
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
So, how much sleep is “enough”? According to the CDC, adults ages 18-60 need at least seven hours of quality sleep each night. Older adults require seven to nine hours, and teenagers need between eight and ten hours of sleep.
Habits that improve sleep quality and quantity are known as sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene can help you fall asleep quickly and get the proper amount of sleep for your brain and body. Sleep hygiene practices include:
- Setting a regular bedtime
- Minimizing screen time before bed
- Ensuring your bedroom is dark and comfortable
- Avoiding caffeine for several hours before bed
Self-care practices can become a part of your sleep hygiene routine as well. Exercising during the day can help you fall asleep faster, while relaxation techniques can help you wind down before bed.
It’s much easier to get the recommended amount of sleep when you have a routine that makes you feel balanced and relaxed. With time, consistent quality sleep does wonders for your emotional well-being.
4. Focus on Nutrition
Food is another underappreciated factor in maintaining your mental health. Improper nutrition can lead to other physical health issues and compound existing mental health complications.
Mineral deficiencies can cause stress on the body. To make sure you’re getting the vitamins and nutrients you need, try to prioritize nutrient-dense foods like:
- Whole grains
- High-quality dairy
- Protein, including fish, eggs, poultry, etc.
- Nuts and seeds
- Quality fats from avocados and olives
If you feel like you’re struggling to get your nutritional needs met or establish routine eating habits, it can be helpful to work with a dietitian or nutritionist. There is quite a lot of misinformation about nutrition, so be sure to work with a trusted professional who will consider your personal needs.
5. Meet with Support Groups
Support groups are a fantastic way to get into the routine of prioritizing your mental health. For people in recovery from addiction, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery provide a safe environment to meet other people, share your experience, and ensure that you’re on a path of personal growth.
Decades of research have shown that support groups are a key component in helping people maintain their recovery. In addition, recovery groups build a sense of social support and community, keeping your emotional well-being in check.
Support groups can also help people struggling with various mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety, codependency, and much more. These groups provide a sense of meaning, purpose, and connection, all contributing to the overall quality of life.
Support groups provide structure and routine so that you can work on your personal growth and maintain your mental well-being.
Find the Tools That Work for You
When it comes to taking care of your mental health, no two people are the same. Many people will need to try several tools before finding what works for them, but the outcome is absolutely worth the effort.
All Points North Lodge incorporates emotional well-being practices into all treatment options. If you need more mental health support and aren’t sure where to start, we can help. Contact our team at 855.232.8217 or fill out the form on our Contact Page to get started today.