Spring is here. As we watch the crocus poke through the ground and enjoy more and more daylight, it's a good time to recommit ourselves to our mental health care. Do some mental health spring cleaning. Identify a habit that prevents you from being your best. It could be the habit of criticizing others or negative self-talk. Whatever it is, commit yourself to being self-aware and to quickly replacing the behavior with a healthy alternative. Plan ahead and be ready. Speak a word of praise instead of criticism or replace negativity with encouragement. With a steady effort, you can change that habit that is holding you back.
One way to improve your mental health is to set healthy boundaries. Practice saying no to people who are requiring too much of you. Set limits on your schedule so that you leave time for rest and recovery. By setting boundaries both in relationships and with your time you can gain management of your schedule and restore energy. Then you'll be more available to do the things that are important to you and have a greater sense of control
I often share with others my favorite quote from Walt Disney, “Keep Moving Forward.” I tell myself these three words when I make a mistake or something goes wrong. It reminds me to focus on the present rather than on things in the past that I cannot change. As you move into spring, let go of regrets and things you cannot undo. Instead focus on the present and keep moving forward.
Discouragement or lack of self-care can often lead us to focus on how bad things are and what we haven't accomplished. Set small achievable goals to help yourself to overcome discouragement. For instance if your home is not as clean as you’d like, tackle one room or one section of a room every day for several days until it's where you want it. All big achievements are accomplished by breaking things into smaller parts. You can do this one small step at a time.
One important aspect of mental health is how we talk to ourselves. Too often we latch on to old messages from our past that drag us down. They are based on an inaccurate and incomplete picture of who we are. You are capable of great things. You have the ability to positively impact this world. Lean into your strengths-gifts- and abilities and let go of defining yourself by old inaccurate messages that don't tell the true story of who you are.
-Jerry Strausbaugh, EdD, LPCC-S, Executive Director, Appleseed Community Mental Health Center