Your Mental Health Score CardMay 22, 2023
Confession time. I was a dedicated Cosmo reader as a young adult (and YM before that). One of the regular features that I looked forward to most was the quiz. I realized, even then, that there was absolutely no validity to them. Still, it was fun and interesting to take the quiz to see how I measured up on whatever it was.
In a similar spirit, this week, I present to you the Mental Health Score Card, a completely invalid yet, hopefully, useful tool.
The items I've included are legit; they're based on current science and leading theories about what contributes to and detracts from mental health. The scores, however, are weighted based on my own (professional) opinion of what matters most.
Tally your points and see how you stack up. Then, challenge yourself to raise your score over the next week. Finally, do some individualized but real research and notice your actual experience. Did your mental health improve?
Your Mental Health Score Card
Consider the past 24 hours. Give yourself 3 points for each of the following:
- Woke up feeling refreshed
- Moved your body in a noticeable way (e.g., going for a long walk, exercising, yoga, swimming, etc.)
- Ate real, actual food (e.g., things that grow, have ingredients you can pronounce)
- Drank enough water
- Meditated or practiced mindfulness in some way
- Meditated or practiced mindfulness (That's not a typo. This one is important enough that it counts twice.)
- Did an act of kindness or something nice for someone else
- Felt connected in a real way to someone (Interactions through social media posts do not count. Direct messages might if they felt meaningful and substantive.)
- Did something enjoyable or fun
- Felt a sense of accomplishment or productivity
- Was fully immersed in an activity (fully focused, without distraction, on something interesting and challenging. Perhaps you lost track of time while doing so. Felt "in the zone." Media consumption does not count.)
- Felt a sense of meaning or purpose
- Made a contribution (e.g., to your family, your community, your workplace, the world)
- Learned something
- Practiced gratitude
- Did some self-care
- Had a manageable stress level (If you were stressed out today, it's a no.)
- Used one of your strengths
- Connected with your "why" or acted in accordance with your values (In other words, did you act like the kind of person you want to be?)
- Experienced pleasure
- Challenged yourself or overcame a challenge in some way
- Tried something new
- Laughed (a real, belly laugh, not a fake one)
- Spent time outdoors
- Acknowledged your emotions (It's ok to feel sad, anxious, angry, etc...as long as you name it and let yourself experience it, it's part of good mental health. It's when you suppress or deny your emotions that problems start to arise.)
- Faced or solved a problem instead of avoiding it
- Took your medications or supplements as prescribed (If you don't take any because you don't need them, go ahead and give yourself these points.)
- Followed through with what you planned or intended, barring things that were out of your control (Think of it as exercised will power, committed action, or self-discipline.)
- Was creative in some way
- Practiced your faith or spirituality in some way
- Felt a sense of awe
- Had at least 2 hours of technology-free time
- Recognized when your thinking was unhelpful (e.g., extremes, negativity, worries) and changed it
Total + points = ______
Subtract 5 points for each of the following:
- Lost your temper (Note, getting angry does not detract. Only subtract points if you let anger get the better of you, and you expressed it in an unhelpful way or did something you later have to apologize for.)
- Beat yourself up
- Ruminated (i.e., dwelling on negative thoughts or excessively complaining or venting)
- Checked email or social media before getting out of bed
- Checked email or social media in bed before going to sleep
Total - = _____
Subtract 10 points for each of the following:
- Not getting a full (8 hours) night's sleep (Yes, sleep counts twice. It's important.)
- Drank more than 2 alcoholic beverages
- Did something that you know goes against your core values
- Mindlessly scrolled or streamed for more than 30 minutes
- Was sedentary all day (Again, this one counts twice because it's that foundational.)
Total - points = _____
Now calculate your Mental Health Score by subtracting all of your minus points from your first total.
(+) - (-) - (-) = _____
There is a total possible score of 99 (because no one is perfect). How'd you do?
Improving Your Mental Health
Take just a few minutes to consider your responses to these questions.
Pro tip: Actually write down your responses to increase your sense of commitment and the likelihood of following through with change.
- What can you do tomorrow to improve your score a little bit?
- What will get in the way or make that goal difficult to achieve?
- How might you sidestep that barrier or up the chances of success?
- How committed are you - honestly - to improving your score, 0 - 100%?
- What would it take to raise your commitment by 10%?
You Are Worth It
Your mental health matters so very much. It literally affects every aspect of your life.
Quality of life? The quality of your mind, your wellbeing, and your mental health all make a tremendous impact on how you experience each day and how you experience life on a broader scale.
Your relationships? Good mental health helps you show up authentically and consistently in relationships...and it creates a self-fueling cycle as good relationships support mental health!
Your physical health? Yep, impacted by your mental health. Your beliefs, your habits, the way you manage stress, grit, your ability to actively and intentionally direct your actions, and so much more that falls under mental health has direct and indirect implications for physical health.
Work? You'll be so much more effective and successful when your mental health is on point.
Literally every facet of your life is impacted by mental health. Take charge of yours!
"Your mental health is everything – prioritize it. Make the time like your life depends on it, because it does."
— Mel Robbins
Written by Dr. Ashley Smith
Peak Mind co-founder
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