Whether you’ve experienced a traumatic event or are simply feeling stressed, you’re probably understanding the importance of taking care of your mental health.

Until someone has suffered from a mental health issue, they cannot possibly understand. But you know what you’re struggling with, and you know when things aren’t quite right.

Here’s why it’s important to look after your mental health.

Hopelessness is a scary place

No one begins by feeling hopeless. Oftentimes, people start by feeling overwhelmed by the people or situations around them. If this continues without help, it may lead to feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.

There’s no shame

Anyone can struggle with their own mental health – even mental health professionals. People with high-stress jobs often struggle with anxiety, but they aren’t the only ones. No one is immune to mental health issues, so it’s important to take care of yourself. If you need a break from work or a relaxing day at the beach, take one. Everyone understands mental health issues because they likely have struggled at one point or another.

You’re the only one who can do it

Especially when we’re struggling, it’s nice to think that someone can swoop in and save the day. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly the case with mental health issues. If you’re struggling with mental health, you will probably be the first to know something is wrong. And although others can help, you’re going to be the one to do the heavy lifting. Much like with substance abuse programs, you have to consider treatment in order for it to work. If you’re reluctant, you may not get a lot out of counseling or other mental health treatments.

Needing help is normal

If you were to visit an inpatient mental health facility, you’d meet many people that you’d probably characterize as “normal.” For all intents and purposes, these people are “normal.” They just need a little help to get their mental health back on track.

If you’ve identified that you need to make healthier choices for your mental health, you’re not alone. And you’re also perfectly “normal.”

You may avoid some bad habits

Anxiety, depression and other mental health issues are likely to lead to substance abuse issues as people attempt to self-medicate. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol can quickly lead to addiction. Although it may feel like its alleviating symptoms of depression or anxiety, these will inevitably worsen with substance abuse.

Your life can bloom

If you’re currently struggling with mental health issues, you may avoid social situations or hold yourself back from forwarding motion. Mental health issues can hold you back from living a fulfilling life, so it’s important to take care of your mental health. Once the fog of depression is lifted, you can be free to explore life and have new adventures.

How to take better care of your mental health

One of the worst things you can do for your mental health is to bottle up your feelings or pretend things are okay when they’re not. Whatever you’re struggling with, know that you don’t have to go it alone. Talk about your feelings, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

And when stress levels are high, find healthy outlets for stress. The following are some examples of healthy ways to relieve stress:

Breathing exercises – When you’re in the midst of a stressful situation, just breathe. If there’s a physical stressor, look away from it. Take a deep breath in and hold it for a few seconds. Then, take a slow and long exhale. Do this three times or until your pulse begins to slow back to a normal rate. This isn’t a long-term solution, but it should help you through a stressful situation without having a panic attack.

Meditation – Meditation has been shown to decrease cortisol levels and symptoms of anxiety. And it’s easier to do than you may think, although it takes a great deal of practice to master. Start by setting a timer for 5 minutes and sitting in a quiet room. Focus on your breaths in and out. Don’t try to control them. Only notice them and focus on the sight, sound, and feeling.

Exercise – Exercise is another way to naturally address the symptoms of anxiety. To put it simply, working out makes you feel good. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins to relieve pain.

It’s always a good idea to take care of your mental health, and there has never been a better time than now. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider treatment. And if you’re having trouble dealing with stress, try the exercises outlined here.