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“Mental Health Monday” Meets “Meatless Monday” – Changing Routines to Change Your Health

If you’ve been busy learning and applying various techniques to improve your health, you’ve probably heard of “Meatless Monday,” the idea of substituting a healthy vegetarian meal one day per week in order to beef up (no pun intended!) your vegetable consumption and lessen your dependence on meat. It’s a great idea, relatively easy to implement, and, over time, contributes to an overall pattern of good eating.

This “Mental Health Monday” column is also a good habit. Reading it is a way of bring attention (mindfulness) to the practices inherent in creating and maintaining good mental health. I often talk about ways to make small changes in attitude, behavior, or thought patterns. From a mental health perspective, what I like about Meatless Monday is the way it breaks down an overwhelming task (eating healthier) into a small, actionable, and rewarding step. If you implement Meatless Monday, it means you’re really thinking about what you eat. You’re taking time and energy to explore and experiment. You eat the food and realize that you don’t need meat to feel complete or satisfied. Or maybe you make a bad choice (pasta, pasta, pasta!), and realize that your needs call for more protein – but maybe it doesn’t have to come from meat.

Mental health is like this. You can’t take a huge, amorphous goal (say, “feel happier”) and just say, “that’s what I want – where is it?!” It’s a process, a project, a series of steps and experiments. There is a need for assessment, evaluation, and revision. Over time, you learn what’s missing in your upbringing, your thought patterns, and your ways of relating. Or you learn that there’s something you do quite often that is off-putting or unproductive in your relationships. You implement homework assignments from your therapist, read self-help books and do the exercises, and practice affirmations and positive self-talk. At some point, you begin to notice that things are improving. The process gets easier. You don’t have to consciously think really hard about how to have a productive talk with your boyfriend, set a boundary with your overbearing mother, or express your anger productively. You’re better. You’re happier. You’re healthier. And it all started with a small experiment, such as:

• Meatless Monday
• Not saying negative things about yourself, privately or in public.
• Joining a therapy group.
• Going to the gym just once a week.
• Adding Vitamin D3 supplements.
• Eliminating gossip.

In and of itself, one action is not enough. Cumulatively though, as you slowly implement mentally and/or physically healthy choices, the impact is there. What are you going to start doing to get happier and healthier today?

Gretchen Kubacky, Psy.D. is a Health Psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles, California. She has completed the inCYST training. She specializes in counseling women and couples who are coping with infertility, PCOS, and related endocrine disorders and chronic illnesses.

If you would like to learn more about Dr. HOUSE or her practice, or obtain referrals in the Los Angeles area, please visit her website at, or e-mail her at You can also follow her on Twitter @askdrhousemd.

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“Mental Health Monday” Meets “Meatless Monday” – Changing Routines to Change Your Health + thinking