Why You Should Celebrate Your Mental Health Milestones

Celebrating mental health milestones is a powerful and transformative practice that goes beyond personal acknowledgement.


Working on our mental health is hard work. Each day involves unlearning and re-learning emotional responses, fighting against natural impulses, or dealing with the aftermath of trauma. This kind of intention and mindfulness can be exhausting, and setbacks, which are inevitable, are discouraging. This makes it all the more important to celebrate each milestone passed in the long journey towards your goals.


What are mental health milestones? Why do they matter?


Think of mental health milestones as markers for progress. A common example of a milestone is the sobriety coin, a medallion used by Alcoholics Anonymous and now other groups to mark the number of sober days for a person recovering from an addiction. 

Marking and celebrating success is a critical motivational tool for achieving any kind of goal, but especially for continuing the self-work of therapy. The process of celebrating milestones also allows us to stop and revisit the effort and time spent getting to the milestone, which revitalises our efforts to progress towards the next. 


Positive psychology calls this process ‘savouring’ or enhancing good experiences in life by taking time to appreciate them. We can savour milestones by reminiscing on past goals, taking time to appreciate present wins, or anticipating a future of more success. 

Savouring is an active behaviour, but it does not have to be external or tangible. In order to savour something, people need to only become aware of the delight they experience and associate it with the experience of success and the path towards that success.


What are some examples of mental health milestones


Mental health struggles affect us to varying degrees and arise from different causes. We also all have different mental health goals and definitions of healing. So, our milestones for progress depend on our own experiences and perception of recovery. 

However, here are some common examples of milestones that people choose to celebrate on the road towards mental wellness. 


Days without self-harm: In some situations, mental health symptoms led to self-harm methods including self-injury, starvation, substance abuse, and willful engagement with dangerous situations. When someone avoids self-harming for a set period of time, like two weeks, it represents a milestone for a life lived resisting self-hatred and loathing for two weeks. 


Choosing to seek help: For people facing mental health struggles or living with mental health illnesses, the act of seeking help can range from scheduling an appointment, to downloading an app, to a crucial emergency visit to the hospital or call to a helpline. In all cases, the decision to seek help is always a good one and deserves celebration as a mark of progress. 


First times: Trying something new for the first time often leads to failure. But in the realm of mental health, it is the effort of attempting something that earns celebration. People can celebrate a range of firsts – from a first attempt at positive social interaction, to a first attempt to think mindfully, to even a first session with a therapist.


Resisting old habits: Some people face symptoms that lead to unhealthy behaviours and habits that reduce their own quality of life and the quality of their social support. Resisting these habits for a set period of time and appreciating this success can help people work harder to unlearn these habits and adopt healthier ones instead. 


Making new habits: Therapy helps us learn new habits and tools to care for ourselves. Setting milestones to track how often we practise these methods in the real world can do wonders for our self-perception. For example, if a person working on their self-esteem looks back on their progress and realises they’ve stood up for themselves five times over three months, they will feel stronger and a lot more self-confident. 


What are some ways to savour mental health milestones? 


There’s a wide range of things people can do to celebrate milestones, ranging from a quiet cup of tea alone to a large party. Here are some ideas to make savouring our mental health milestones a positive experience. 


Spend time with friends and family: If your friends and family motivate you to seek mental wellness, celebrating your achievements with them is a great way to both savour your success and motivate yourself for the future. 


Spend time alone: If your journey towards mental wellness is something you prefer to keep quiet, or if your mental wellness journey involves getting comfortable with yourself, spending time alone with a hobby or a good meal is an excellent way to celebrate. 


Take on responsibility:  Sometimes, people’s motivation for mental wellness is to become responsible and reliable. If you feel ready, then taking on more responsibility at work, moving forward in a relationship, or even adopting a pet are exciting ways to celebrate your progress and trust in yourself. 


Reward yourself: Keeping away from bad habits gets a lot easier once you reward yourself for your progress. In these cases, it is best to keep rewards relatively simple and to stay away from rewarding yourself in ways that might trigger poor behaviour from the past. 


Take a deep breath: If you don’t feel like celebrating, then don’t celebrate. The mere act of taking a deep breath and thinking about your progress is a way to savour how far you’ve come – and how far you can go.


Remember: mental health milestones are different for different people. Do not get disheartened if you are unable to achieve any for a long time, or if your progress does not give you joy yet. Learning to trust yourself and trusting the process will get you to a place where you can learn to savour your achievements in your own way and move forward.

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