Written by Kiki Athanas, In-House Wellness Expert @ Calii Love and Founder of MEByKiki.com.

It’s pretty great how far we’ve come as a society when it comes to how we think about mental health. A lot of us are a whole lot more open and honest on how we may be experiencing various mental health issues, and are kind towards those who may also be suffering. The fact that it’s now “socially acceptable” to seek support and talk openly about various mental health disorders represents incredible progress – times were a lot different even just a few years back. While it’s important to celebrate our success, it’s also worth acknowledging how we can continue to develop emotional intelligence and openness around deepening our support for ourselves and those around us when it comes to mental health. Here are five ways that you can ride the momentum of respect and authenticity into making 2020 another year of levelling up!

1) Seek Knowledge

You can’t defend what you don’t know, so getting the facts about mental illness including substance use disorders can go a long way in feeling more comfortable and educated on the subject. You may be surprised at what you learn, and the data will very likely fuel a deeper sense of empathy and understanding for yourself or those in your community who are affected. CAMH has a great Mental Health 101 page here that’s worth a read!

2) Focus on the Positive

While mental health issues are very real and can be a substantial part of someone’s story – it’s important to never lose sight of the fact that it is only PART of their story. We are all on our journeys towards health & enlightenment, and never losing sight of the greater picture for each individual – from their talents, passions, and unique energies, is crucial to maintaining a lightness in what can sometimes be a dark topic. At the end of the day, we are not our “issues” nor our emotions – and our energy flows where our attention goes, so focus on the good wherever and whenever possible.

3) Get Mindful About Your Attitudes and Behaviour

What are some of the words or actions you may be saying or doing that could cause others to become uncomfortable being in their own skin? While you certainly may not mean to be causing negativity or “weird vibes” – you might be surprised at how your (even unconscious!) actions might be influencing others. We are all subject to our past and current conditioning, so get curious and examine your own judgmental thinking – often reinforced by upbringing and society. You can’t improve what you don’t acknowledge and measure!

I’ll leave you wish this: what is one new thought or action you’d like to step into the rest of the year with? Maybe it’s a curiosity about how you can support others who are struggling, or perhaps its a commitment to honouring the mental health of yourself through self-care or seeking therapy. For a deeper dive into this topic, I recently interviewed Jessie Arora on my podcast here on the topic of spirituality and your mental health – it’s a short but juicy listen!

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