How to Check-in with Your Mental Health

A couple weeks ago, I was at a mental health workshop via my college prep program, the Student Expedition Program (STEP). At the workshop, we had a couple speakers from a wonderful organization called Text Talk Act, which helps bring awareness to mental health among teens.

We went over a model that I have found to be a very good tool for assessing my mental health:

With this model, I like to look at the different symptoms and see which I connect with the most. Then, I look at the “actions to take” and choose one of those actions to focus on during the day. Let’s break down the process real quick:

Step 1: Recognize Feelings

Look at the chart above and recognize which feelings/symptoms you recognize in yourself. They don’t have to make sense together, and they don’t have to fit in just one or two categories. Then, notice which category most of your feelings fall into. Don’t judge yourself if you’re more toward the right side – that means you’re really doing the right thing by checking in.

Step 2: Allow

In order to start working on trying to improve your mental health, first you need to come to terms with the state you’re in. If you come to a mindset of needing to “fix” it, you won’t reap the benefits as much. Instead, approach yourself with compassion and understanding. I like the mantra “I am”. It’s simple and free of judgement. Repeat it to yourself a few times with deep breaths.

Step 3: Identify an Action

You can see on the chart that there’s a list of actions you can take per section. Read through them and pick one action that you can focus on that day. Break it down into something actionable. For example, with “identify and minimize stressors”, you can decide to not look at social media that day if it’s making you feel anxious or doubtful about yourself. Whatever it may be, make it actionable and make it a focus. Don’t try to do the whole list at once because you will fail and it will make your feelings worse. Tackle them a little bit at a time based on what you need in that moment.

Self-Care and Coping Strategies

Text Talk Act provided us with a lovely list of actionable strategies you can start to implement today as part of step 3. Here’s the list:

  • Read a book/magazine
  • Journal or write a letter
  • Use kind and compassionate self-talk
  • Scrapbook or make a collage
  • Paint or color
  • Rest, nap, take a break
  • Go on a hike, walk, or run
  • Drink water
  • Do something kind
  • Take a relaxing shower or bath
  • Exercise
  • Drink a warm cup of tea
  • Forgive, let go, move on
  • Practice yoga
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice meditation
  • Garden or do yard work
  • Hang out and play with your pet
  • Practice gratitude
  • Do a puzzle
  • Smile and laugh
  • Take a mental health day
  • Sing and/or dance
  • Ride a bike or skateboard
  • Create origami
  • Cook or bake
  • Ask for help
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Weave, knit or crochet
  • Work on cars or models
  • Build something
  • Get/give a hug
  • Visualize a peaceful place
  • Stretch
  • Make art
  • Use positive affirmations
  • Take slow, mindful breaths
  • Clean, declutter, or organize
  • Use aromatherapy
  • Cry
  • Try or learn something new
  • Listen to music
  • Use a stress ball or other fidget
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Kick, bounce, or throw a ball
  • Take or look at photos
  • Eat healthy

Thank you so much to STEP and our friends at Text Talk Act for these resources, and I hope you use them as we close out this school year! I can tell people are waning and losing their energy and motivation. Doing this type of check-in can really help.

❤ Alicia

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