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January is Mental Wellness Month

January 4th, 2023

What is mental wellness?

According to the World Health Organization, mental wellness is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

In other words, mental wellness is about practicing behaviors and habits that allow you to thrive even in stressful situations. This doesn’t mean you don’t experience mental health issues; it’s more about achieving balance and having the tools to persevere through the challenges of life. 

Enhancing mental wellness can look a lot of different ways but some characteristics of mental wellness may include resiliency, self-confidence, and the ability to maintain healthy relationships.

Tips To Improve Your Mental Wellness

Here are some tips that can help improve your mental wellness. 

1. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a popular term these days but for good reason. Research has found that mindfulness practices can help create a more positive mental state, allowing you to better navigate difficult situations. 

There are plenty of free resources dedicated to mindfulness, including this video from our 2021 Virtual Mini-Conference. You can also speak with a licensed therapist or counselor about mindfulness tools.  

2. Practice Gratitude

Our brains are wired to look for drama so that we can protect ourselves from it. This means that it can be easy to dwell on the negative or to look for things that might be going awry. By practicing gratitude, it can shift your mindset so that you start seeing more of the positive things happening around you.

If you’re new to this practice, start small by writing down three things at the beginning or end of each day that you’re grateful for. This could include good weather, a stranger opening a door for you, etc. Practicing this on a daily basis can do wonders for your mental state!

3. Stay Active

This can be difficult, especially for those living with a chronic sleep disorder like narcolepsy or idiopathic hypersomnia. But finding ways to stay active can reduce stress and lead to a more positive mindset. Going for a walk, doing housework, cooking, taking down holiday decorations, planting flowers… those are all great ways to practice being physically active throughout the day. Staying active could also include challenging your mind with things like word games, puzzles, or trivia. 

4. Make Time for Social Connections

Connecting with other people is essential for overall mental wellness. Set aside quality time for people you enjoy being around. Take an art class together, go for a walk, take a weekend road trip to a nearby town. Those are all ways to intentionally engage with your friends and family, improve your relationships, and ultimately lead to better mental well-being. Joining local or virtual support groups is another great option! Click here to register for Narcolepsy Network’s next virtual support group. 

5. Take Breaks

We’ve heard a lot of people in the narcolepsy community say that they have gotten overwhelmed by trying to do “too much.” This may be a result of trying to prove that you’re capable of living a “normal” life which can be stressful for your mind and body. Make sure to take breaks and rest when you need it (this includes taking a break from screens, social media news, etc.). The goal is to slow down your mind and let your body recharge. 

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Date Created: January 4th, 2023
Last Updated: December 21st, 2023