Before you commit to something or engage in a certain activity, how often do you consider your mental health?
That is, do you ask yourself if that situation, action, habit, or person supports your emotional well-being?
Recently, clinical psychologist Christina Iglesia, Psy.D, creator of a powerful mental health campaign called #therapyiscool, suggested we get into the habit of asking ourselves: “Is this good for my mental health?”
I love this question, particularly because it can help us to simplify decision making while honoring our needs. So often we say yes to things because we feel guilty, because we believe we should say yes. We say yes because physically we can do it, even though emotionally it might not be a good fit, even though it might trigger needless stress, even though it might be incompatible with our needs.
We say yes because we supposedly don’t have a strong enough reason not to. We say yes to power through, to keep producing, to earn our worth.
And so our needs go neglected, and our stress spikes.
We can use the mental health question to guide virtually any decision. It’s an excellent and quick way to check in with ourselves. It’s an invaluable barometer.
Is this potential project good for my mental health?
Is working another shift good for my mental health?
Is spending time with this person good for my mental health?
Is learning this skill good for my mental health?
Is seeing a therapist right now good for my mental health?
Is staying up later good for my mental health?
Is this movie, book, ________ good for my mental health?
Is scrolling through social media right now good for my mental health?
You might take some time to further explore (and jot down) the activities, habits, behaviors, and people that are and aren’t good for your mental health.
You might explore these questions: What supports your mental health? What helps you to feel nourished, energized, excited? What helps you to feel calm and genuinely relaxed? What helps when you’re feeling anxious, angry, or depressed? What habits make you happy? What tends to make you feel overwhelmed and stressed out? What tends to disconnect you from yourself? What are the early signs that your mental health is sinking?
You also can use your answers to determine what your days can look like and what goes on your calendar. Which is what builds a fulfilling life, and helps us to prevent burnout.
Ultimately, when we ask ourselves about our own mental health, we prioritize it. We give it the importance it deserves. We communicate that our emotional well-being matters. We honor ourselves.
So if something isn’t good for your mental health, it’s OK to say no. It’s OK to decline. It’s OK to stop engaging in that habit. It’s OK to use your mental health as a deciding factor.
You don’t have to wait until you’re emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted. You deserve to consider your mental health at the outset, from the beginning, before you say yes, before you take on another project or task.
You deserve to protect yourself. No, you aren’t fragile. Yes, you are resilient. And yes, you deserve to consider how something will affect you. And yes, you deserve to be tender with your heart.