May is mental health awareness month. Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has had a profound impact on the mental health of people of all ages.
Mental health goes beyond a diagnosis like depression or anxiety; it also includes your overall psychological well-being, like the way you feel about yourself, handle every day situations, and coping with your feelings. We all know to take care of our body physically, but mental health often goes overlooked or neglected. Here are some things you can do to keep yourself mentally healthy every day.
Remind yourself of something positive in your life.
How you value and think about yourself has a powerful effect on the way you feel. Turn a negative situation into a learning experience, and find the silver lining. Remind yourself of what you are grateful for and what you have accomplished. Taking a step back and reflecting on the positive can change your entire outlook and mood.
Fuel your body with proper nutrition.
Eating a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water ensures you are getting the proper nutrition to improve mood and general well-being. Certain mineral deficiencies like iron and vitamin B12 can lower mood and energy. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, avoid caffeine as this can enhance these emotions and make you feel jittery as well. What you put in to your body not only affects you physically, it also has a big impact on your mind.
Get plenty of sunlight.
Vitamin D is so important for your mind and body as it allows the brain to release endorphins and serotonin which improve mood. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D! Try to soak in some sun (safely) when you can. At least 30 minutes of sunlight per day is ideal.
Stay active and exercise.
You don't necessarily have to run a marathon(unless you want to), but light activities like walking or yogais beneficial as well. Exercise not only gives you a sense of achievement, but it also helps to boost your mood and decrease depression and anxiety.
Give yourself me time.
It's important to take time for yourself. Do something that makes you happy! Finding an activity you enjoy can be therapeutic and relaxing.
Set and work towards realistic goals.
Sense of achievement is a great way to boost your mental health and self-worth. Set goals that you want to achieve personally, professionally, or academically. It's great to aim high, but be sure that your goals are attainable. Write it down, make a plan, and work towards achieving those goals!
Get help if you need it.
One of the most important aspects of staying mentally healthy is to recognize when it is time to seek help. If you are struggling to do simple tasks, finding joy in things that usually do, or experiencing unmanageable levels of stress, depression, or anxiety, it may be time to say something. Always remember that you are not alone. Whether it be a family member, friend, medical professional, or mental health hotline, support is available. Everyone goes through difficult times, and there is absolutely no shame in getting help.
It is important to promote awareness and reduce the stigma of mental health issues as it can prevent people from speaking out and seeking help. Remember that a healthy mind equals healthy body!