January Mental Wellness Month (Let’s Celebrate!)

It’s that time of year when everyone is thinking about New Year’s resolutions. The most common is to lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, get organized, and learn a new skill or hobby. Other common resolutions focus on family, travel, and having more fun. But what about resolutions for mental health conditions? To kick off the year, celebrate January Mental Wellness Month for better mental health and well-being for all of 2023.

Focusing on Mental Wellness This Year

All resolutions are worthy and can be accomplished. So, why do up to 80% fail within the first few months of the year? One reason may be that no one resolved to focus on mental wellness, which is needed to accomplish any goal.

To make lasting changes, you need to prepare for them mentally. Plus, when you abandon your goals, it can be mentally exhausting. Too often, guilt and negative self-talk about not seeing resolutions through make you feel even worse.

Rather than give up on the exciting changes you want to make, prioritize them. For success, the first resolution must be to improve your mental wellness. And with January Mental Wellness Month, there is no better time than now to begin.

What is Mental Wellness?

Mental wellness differs from mental health, defined by how you think, feel, and act in daily activities. Mental health refers to how well you function at school, at home, at work, and socially. Good mental health is characterized by having coping skills, regulating emotions, seeking support, and engaging in healthy activities.

Mental wellness refers to how you invest in your mental health. It is all the actions you take to ensure your mental health needs are being met and maintained. It does not mean you eliminate a mental health disorder; you do what it takes to control it. Mental wellness can include the following:

  • Setting mental health goals and the steps to help you achieve them
  • Volunteer or give back to the community
  • Meet with a mental health therapist to learn more about yourself
  • Attend a peer support group
  • Practice self-care, such as mindfulness, stress management, quality sleep
  • Engage in healthy relationships at work, home, school, and socially
  • Avoid mental exhaustion

What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness is not simply the opposite of mental wellness. Also, you can have poor mental health and not a diagnosable mental illness.

The American Psychiatric Association defines mental illness as a diagnosable medical condition or disorder that cause changes in how a person thinks, feels, and acts. When left untreated, mental illness negatively impacts mental health and your ability to complete daily tasks.

Common mental illnesses are major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and hundreds of others categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM5).

Mental illness is a medical problem comparable to diabetes and heart disease. Whether or not you acquire a condition is based on biological and risk factors. Mental illness is prevalent, with one in five Americans diagnosed with one in a year. Having one should never make you feel shame or guilt. Instead, seek treatment from qualified professionals like you would for any diagnosable illness.

How to Celebrate January Mental Wellness Month

Celebrating mental wellness means honoring your mental health by bringing awareness to the topic and participating in activities that promote overall well-being. Below are some ideas to get you started for January Mental Wellness Month, but you can customize your list to fit your needs and interests.

1. Create a Mental Wellness Gift

Gift-giving is a rewarding experience in the brain. It triggers a release of pleasure chemicals. Giving gifts that help others invest in their mental wellness can be even more rewarding. Personalize each wellness gift based on likes and preferences. For example, don’t schedule a massage for a coworker or friend who hates being massaged. Plus, massages can be pricey. Wellness gifts do not have to cost much. Ideas include:

  • Journals
  • Essential oils
  • Adult coloring books
  • Self-help products
  • Relaxation gifts
  • Encouraging notes and cards

Don’t forget to customize a wellness gift for yourself too!

2. Create Boundaries Between Home, School, Work, and Social Life

Arguing with your spouse right before you leave for work means those emotions will follow you into your workday and affect how you do your job. Working from home after work hours means your job is interfering with your home life and the time you spend with loved ones.

It is crucial to set boundaries between the sectors of your life to stay mentally well. Without boundaries, your world will become consumed with the biggest problem at the time. Suppose you disagree with a coworker. If you go out with friends for dinner, the conversation will focus on that disagreement.

When you get home, your time with loved ones will be spent discussing it. Trying to focus on schoolwork or anything else will be challenging. This does not represent mental wellness.

Creating boundaries means establishing rules with the people in your life regarding how you will handle various situations so that all of you remain mentally well and come to an agreeable solution.

3. Host Activities That Boost Mental Wellness

An activity that boosts mental wellness is anything that allows you to be creative, have fun, feel rewarded, and teach you something. They can be done alone but are even more effective in groups. Examples of activities include:

  • Host a craft night
  • Take your pets to the park
  • Join a sober paint party
  • Attend group counseling, such as a DBT-Informed skills group
  • Take a class to reduce stress (yoga, meditation)
  • Learn to cook healthy from a local chef
  • Enjoy spa days
  • Learn new hobbies

Brainstorm ideas with the people you want to join you in promoting mental wellness. Get creative and make sure everyone participating is included in the planning process.

Celebrate Mental Wellness After January

Rather than dedicate one month to mental wellness, think of January Mental Wellness Month as the kickoff month to a year of wholesome mental wellness. To make it easy, give each month a wellness focus. February is “love yourself” month. June is “get outdoors” month, and so on. Because mental illnesses and mental health symptoms are treatable and manageable, you can enjoy mental wellness for the rest of your life. You deserve it!

For more information about mental health treatment in Los Angeles, contact the Mental Health Center.