A good friend once reminded me that taking care of my mental health is more than meditating, exercising regularly, or spending time pampering myself.
Sometimes, she said, the best tool you have to support yourself is being ready to say ‘no,’ gracefully and firmly, when you need to.
She was right.
The day I used my carefully prepared phrase, basically saying ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ was a memorable milestone for me, a sometime people-pleaser.
It’s not that I hadn’t set boundaries before, but it didn’t come easily, and too often I had convinced myself that whatever was being asked would be a minor imposition to me, while being helpful to another person, so I should say yes.
Just say yes and do it, I’d think, without ever acknowledging the mental or physical toll that decision had on me.
We’ve all had similar milestone moments when we tackle a challenge successfully for the first time. And, this month, going back and remembering the ones that have led to better mental health is an effective way of celebrating May’s Mental Health Month.
The International Bipolar Foundation encouraged this in a tweet it sent earlier this week. The graphic it included offers an excellent list of milestone ideas to get everyone started, especially if you’ve been treated for bipolar disorder or another mental health issue.
However, these suggestions also work for those looking to celebrate the many ways they’ve supported better mental health for themselves or others. ‘First time finding something that helps,’ for example, or ‘First time you forgave yourself,’ apply to all of us.
Just like being prepared to say ‘no’ can be helpful when the need arises, so too can recognizing past successes remind us that we can support ourselves and set us up for future achievements.
So, what are your mental health milestones?
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