December 30, 2015

By Luna Greenstein

Every New Year, we think about what we can do to better our lives and ourselves as we start our new calendar. This year, think about what you can do on a regular basis to better your mental health. Here are a few options to get started:

1. Stand Up to Stigma

Feeling ashamed and at fault for something that is out of your control is a weight that no one should have to carry.

Stigma can be incredibly challenging to bear. A few people who responded to a Facebook survey feel that living with mental health stigma is worse than living with a mental health condition. It shouldn’t be this way, and you can help to change society’s way of thinking about mental health.

If someone is using language that you find offensive and improper, let him or her know. Inspire them to join our stigmafree movement, and make a commitment to learn more about mental health. We all need to see the person, not the illness.

2. Take Care of Your Physical Health Too

We’ve all heard this time and time again and there are plenty of studies that prove how beneficial exercise, getting enough sleep, eating well, etc. reduce symptoms and improve over all well-being.

The challenging part is finding the motivation, time and effort to do these things. Start by creating a simple routine and stick with it. For example, do grocery shopping and healthy meal preparations for the week over the weekend or on your day off. Have set times during the week for working out or any type of physical activity. Having this kind of structure is hard to start, but makes staying healthy so much easier once you get used to the routine.

3. Share Your Story

Expressing yourself and opening up about your experiences is not only personally uplifting, but it also helps other people who can relate to you. In order to share your story, you can use one of NAMI’s platforms such as, Ok2Talk, YANA or the mobile AIR app.

“The best way to encourage others, and to fight stigma, is to speak the truth about what we face every day,” said Anna, a member of our YANA Community. The great thing about these spaces is that you can remain anonymous if that is your preference and feel safe sharing your experiences.

If you are feeling really motivated to share your experiences with others, you can also start your own blog. This will give you the motivation to consistently write and express yourself on a regular basis. Skutler a member of our Ok2Talk Community, wrote, “I've always loved writing but this is the first time I've shared my work with a larger audience and I can't believe how many people have read and appreciated my personal journey.”

You can also become a presenter for NAMI In Our Own Voice, a presentation series that changes attitudes, assumptions and stereotypes by describing the reality of living with mental illness.

4. Make a Commitment to Stay Informed

Knowing what’s going on in the world of research can help you find out whether there are new ideas out there that might help improve your quality of life. For example, research shows that getting outside during the winter—even though it can be very cold—is important; getting enough vitamin D is essential to your mood and overall well-being.

Here is a list of credible websites compiled by Karen Moeller, Pharm D, DCPP, and Brantley Underwood, Pharm D, MBA, that can help people find information online:

5. Do Something That You Love Every Day

Even if it’s just 30 minutes each day, read, color, go for a walk or have a conversation with someone that you care about. These are the activities that can bring you a sense of peace. It is so important to feel relaxed for at least part of every day. Our busy schedules frequently take over and stop us from making time for ourselves. But leaving a little bit of time to do something that you love is something that is essential to fit into our hectic lives.

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NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).