Mental health is something you’ve probably heard you should make a priority a million times. But with a busy schedule, and all the noise of everyday life, it’s easy to put self-care on the back burner time and time again.
I know how easy it is to set mental health as your last priority, but I’m also all too familiar with how tiring it is to constantly feel an inch away from your breaking point.
If that last sentence hit a little too close for comfort, then week four of the New Year New You 2022 Fitness Challenge is just what you need. This week is all about mental health.
If you’re ready to take control of your mental health, start here. Below, you’ll learn more about the benefits of prioritizing mental health, how to make it a priority, and advice straight from our trainers who experience the stresses and real-world pressures just like you.
New Year New You 2022, Week Four: Prioritize Your Mental Health
So, how is your mental health? It’s time to get in touch with you and be intentional. We all come to the mental health space from different levels of experience, and different things will resonate with where we are in life.
Like any journey, I recommend approaching the topic of mental health with an open mind. Be willing to hear others out and try new things. And above all, listen to your body and mind throughout the process.
Together let’s dive into the topic of mental health and learn some strategies so you can have a stronger mind in 2022.
Why is Taking Care of Your Mental Health Important?
Just like being physically healthy is important to help our bodies stay strong, being mentally healthy is important to keep our minds strong.
When we’re mentally healthy, we’re able to enjoy life, and find peace in our environment and those around us, despite hardship. We’re able to be creative, learn, try new things, and step out of our comfort zones. We’re also better able to cope with stress or difficult times.
Below, your Sunny trainers have listed just a few of the reasons why mental health is so important to them:
“In my opinion, mental health is priority number one, even above physical health. Because our mental health impacts our physical health, and it also impacts every moment of every day.” - SAM CANDLER
“Mental health is extremely important to me because I have ADHD and I struggle with it daily. A lot of people don’t know this but people with ADHD produce lower levels of dopamine than the average person. So that means, exercise can be very important for reducing anxiety, depression, and improving your overall focus and mental health.” - ANNELISA MOODY
“For me, mental health really became an important part of my life when I was injured and couldn’t exercise and I realized that your mental health, what you're thinking, is just as important as how you’re moving.” - ASHTON ROARK
How to Make Your Mental Health a Priority
Mental health is extremely personal. It’s important to remember, just because you have a different life experience than those surrounding you, doesn’t mean that caring for your mental health should be any less of a priority.
Mental health should take precedence regardless of who you are, and what walk of life you come from. Because we each bring a unique set of experiences to this world, the way we care for our mental health can also take a variety of different forms.
Below, our Sunny trainers have shared just a few of the different ways they like to care for their mental health.
“I like to get outside and enjoy time in nature. Spending time with my dog has also been very therapeutic to my soul. As well as spending time with horses when I’m lucky enough to do it.” - SAM CANDLER
“First, I start with the body. So, this includes making sure I’m getting enough movement and exercise throughout the week, that I’m fueling my body with nutritious foods, and that I’m also sleeping enough.” - WENDIE WELDON
“Journaling is something that I do each night to kind of give myself credit for all of the positive things I did that day, express my gratitude, and then troubleshoot any obstacles I have in my life.” - JAMES KING
“I make mental health a priority by going to therapy regularly. A lot of people have a stigma that you go to a therapist because there’s something wrong, but sometimes you need to keep up with your mental health in the same way you go to the gym to keep up with your physical health.” - ANNELISA MOODY
“Breathwork has changed my life a lot, and I think when it comes to fitness it is a time where we think we’re doing something healthy, but because we’re so used to holding our breath in and not letting ourselves breathe properly that it can actually shut yourself off, and trap emotions even more. So, if you take the time to practice breathing then it also helps your mind perform as well, and it helps you just find clarity and permission to actually feel and experience your emotions in a safe way.” - ASHTON ROARK
What resonates with you? Maybe some of the ideas above sounded either enjoyable or like they would benefit your current routine. Save these ideas as you start building your game plan for taking better care of your mental health in 2022.
Week Four: Mental Health Challenge
Challenge: Practice meditation, deep breathing, or journaling for 5 minutes a day.
Taking care of our mental health is not always easy, but it makes all the difference between surviving and thriving. If you’re ready to step back and take enjoyment in the life surrounding you, it’s time to make space for mental health.
This week, we start small: just 5 minutes for you. Whether meditation, deep breathing, or journaling resonates with you; or you’ve found another idea in this article you’d rather try, your only assignment this week is to make time for you!
Beyond New Year New You: Tips for Prioritizing Your Mental Health
This challenge is a great place to start. But beyond this week, I hope you feel more open to taking better care of your mental health and to be more intentional about it.
Whether you’re new to practicing self-care, or you’ve been working at it for some time, I think we always have something to learn! Below, I’ve listed a few top tips for prioritizing your mental health.
1. Start Small
Like anything, it’s much easier to get started and stick with it if you choose to do it in manageable, bite-sized pieces. Sunny trainer James says it best:
“I would recommend for you once again picking something that you enjoy or something you believe will be the easiest for you to implement. Whether it’s 5 minutes of journaling, 5 minutes of mental meditating, 3 minutes of stretching, minimize it so it’s easier for you to act, and then make it a daily practice over time.
2. Write It Down
Writing down your daily and weekly goals is a great way to focus on what’s important. It can help to remind you of your priorities and get your thoughts out of your head so you can stop worrying about forgetting something or stressing about how it will go. As a wise person once said, ‘worrying is suffering twice.’
Sunny trainer Annelisa shared a fresh take on journaling to help you focus on what’s most important to you each day:
“I like to keep a daily planner, and in this planner instead of writing every single task I need to complete every day, I write down 4 things: 2 work things, 1 self-care task, and 1 fun task. So, when it comes to that self-care task, it could be anything ranging from meditating for 1 minute to 10 minutes of cleaning up around the house. And for the fun thing, it’s anything that brings me joy, so that way I’m making my mental health a priority by adding it into my routine.”
3. Keep Promises
According to Sunny trainer Wendie, keeping promises to yourself is important long-term:
“Keeping promises to yourself. I know it seems like such a small thing. But if you told yourself you were going to work out today, go workout today. Keep that promise to yourself. It actually builds a lot of self-confidence and resilience. It’s important to keep doing those little things because it will yield very great results.”
On the flip side, when you don’t keep promises to yourself, you’re continually reinforcing that you’re not worth your time and that you can’t accomplish what you set out to do. Don’t fall victim to that! It’s a slippery slope. It’s time to step up and start moving in the direction you want to go, and that starts with building your willpower.
4. Focus on Joy
Remember, this journey is all about you. If you’re on the search for ways to find joy and meaning in everyday life, then do just that: focus on joy. Sunny trainer Sam recommends getting a pet for that very reason:
“If possible, I cannot recommend enough: getting a pet. Having my dog Stella has been huge to my mental health. In fact, on a down day, she could be the actual reason why I get out of bed. She gets me outside, she gives me unconditional love, and she shows me how to live life in the present.”
The above is a beautiful example of the many different creative ways we can approach mental health. Mental health is all about you, so don’t be afraid to get to know yourself better and get personal with your self-care.
Sunny team, I hope this week is the starting place of an incredible relationship between you and your mental health. When you’re mentally healthy, you’re able to show up for life as your best, and I want that for every one of you.
Let me know how this week goes in the comments, and don’t forget to share your progress towards your goals by hashtagging #NewYearNewYouNewSunny and tagging us on social media. Let’s go Sunny family!