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Your 2024 Mental Health BackPack

Updated: Jan 23

Embarking upon a new phase, journey, or confronting fresh challenges prompts the meticulous preparation of various materials. While physical articles such as sports gear, luggage, or a medical kit are commonly considered, how often do we devote equal attention to assembling resources for our mental well-being?

It is intriguing, and somewhat paradoxical, to observe the centrality of mental health topics in our conversations, media, and simultaneously acknowledge the relatively low priority afforded to them in the pragmatic facets of our daily lives.

I urge you to contemplate:

  • Do you employ a method for gauging your emotional well-being akin to the scrutiny given to physical health through blood analyses or periodic assessments?

  • Have you scheduled dedicated time for mental well-being, mirroring the diligence applied to annual medical check-ups or weekly physical exercise routines?

  • Do you consistently keep resources readily available for nurturing your mental health, mirroring the preparedness we exhibit for physical health, such as having pain relievers or hygiene products at home?

Ideally, your response aligns with an affirmative acknowledgment to at least two out of these three inquiries. Yet, in our experience, a significant number of individuals tend to respond negatively to all three.

While absorbing literature, engaging in lectures, podcasts, or dialogues about mental health is intellectually stimulating, it proves insufficient for effecting tangible changes in our daily lives. Achieving a genuine transformation necessitates both practice and consistency, coupled with the accessibility of readily available resources.

In the course of our collaborations with various international enterprises and educational institutions, we conduct multiple workshops biannually addressing the nuances of maintaining mental health while residing abroad. Invariably, we introduce the concept of "The Mental Health Backpack" – an inventory of resources designed not only to address challenges but, crucially, to prevent potential major issues.

These materials prove instrumental in assisting individuals in safeguarding their mental health amidst the challenges of studying or working in foreign environments. However, such resources are equally pertinent to those navigating challenges within their own familiar surroundings, be it a change of residence, occupation, interests, familial issues, or the ushering in of a new year—a span of 12 months pregnant with opportunities to cultivate heightened awareness of one's mental health and its proactive care.

As we raise a toast on December 31st, celebrating physical health and vowing to nurture it, let us extend the same commitment to our mental well-being.

I propose the creation of your own Mental Health Kit, a bespoke compilation that resonates with your individual needs and aspirations for the upcoming year. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Incorporate mechanisms to assess your mental health at the conclusion of each day or week. Pose specific questions regarding your emotions: "What has been my level of energy/motivation/love/enthusiasm/enjoyment?"; "What contributed to it?"; "What could have enhanced my well-being?"

  2. Cultivate your emotional intelligence by identifying specific emotions and discerning their meanings. Tools such as the emotions wheel can be invaluable.

  3. Confront challenging thoughts by pinpointing cognitive biases. Assess whether your current interpretation aligns with reality or if you are prone to personalizing, dramatizing, or engaging in all-or-nothing thinking. Resources like the list of cognitive biases can aid in identification.

  4. Translate insights into action. Returning to the first question, consider what steps you can take in the coming week or day to enhance your well-being. Develop a catalog of meditations or practical exercises to fortify your mental health.

While these suggestions provide a foundation for constructing your Mental Health Kit, the essence lies in personalization. Craft a compact physical or digital toolkit that will accompany you throughout the new year, simplifying the practical and applied care of your emotional well-being.

Should you require any assistance, please feel free to reach out. Here's to a 2024 marked by a steadfast commitment to nurturing our mental health.

Warm regards,

MindPlace Team

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