Imagine sitting in an auditorium full of people and one out of every five people were asked to stand. All of those people standing would represent the population in the room that had some degree of mental health problem or disorder.
Now think about the people that you know and interact with on a daily basis. One in five are struggling with their mental health.
Could it be you? Someone you know? Someone you love? Maybe a family member?
Who in that group of five might be struggling, and nobody even knows it because they are afraid to speak up about it?
The month of May marks Mental Health Awareness month. So, let's spread the word that mental health disorders are actual illnesses that need to be treated, that it's okay to feel like you are struggling, it's okay to open up, and more importantly people need to get help!
Check out these ten things you can do to start improving your mental health.
1. Start Today!
Make your mental health a priority. There is a delicate balance between mental health and the health of your body. It's a whole lot easier to keep your body healthy if you keep your mind healthy, too. Having a hard time making your health or mental health a priority? Then think about how your health directly influences your greatest values in life, like your family, your job, or even your pet goldfish. Just like taking on any new goal, start with small tasks that you know you can achieve and stay consistent with.
2. Get Help.
If you are struggling and you feel like you can't break free, seek professional help!
- Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire covers a variety of behavioral/mental health services. Call our member services department today at 888-203-7770 to learn the types of services that are covered. Also, check out this Provider Directory to see what providers are covered in your area.
- Check out these online resources--Mental Health America and National Alliance on Mental Illness.
3. Think About the Things You're Grateful For.
Practicing gratitude can improve your mental health as well as boost your happiness and improve your overall well-being. Keep a journal of the things you are grateful for or write a daily gratitude list. Don't judge yourself for these things, just simply enjoy the way they make you feel.
4. Move Your Body.
Exercising allows your brain to release the "feel good" hormones and is a powerful tool to manage stress, anxiety and depression. Find ways to add a little more activity in your day whether it's exercising for 30-60 minutes all at once, or finding ways to add little bouts of movement, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away than normal.
5. Eat "Real" Food.
Eating foods with only ingredients that you can actually see and pronounce will help your mind work at its optimal level. Does that seem overwhelming? You can even see benefits by starting small and adding in a fruit or vegetable to your daily food routine, then keep improving and making little adjustments from there. Remember, small, consistent steps are key!
6. Practice Good Sleep Habits.
Going to bed and waking up on a consistent schedule can make a huge difference in your mood and energy levels.
7. Talk It Out.
Reach out to a friend or family member and open up about the feelings you may be having. They might offer suggestions or solutions to your struggles. Sometimes simply getting the thoughts out of your head can make you feel clearer minded and more focused.
8. Schedule a Break.
Take time for yourself, whether it's five minutes or a whole week's vacation. Taking time to do something just for you can relieve your stress.
9. Talk nice to yourself.
Remember that old saying "if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all?" Well this is true for your own self talk, too! If we keep the internal conversation with ourselves positive, we can eventually start viewing ourselves and our lives more positively too.
It's so easy to get wrapped up in all of the "things" going on around us. Social media can create pressures of comparison or information overload. Our phones keep giving us notifications to take care of, and emails keep rolling in on our computers. Devote some time to just being away from technology and focus on one thing that is in your immediate environment. It could be some birds chirping outside, listening to how the wind blows through trees, or even focusing inward on your own body and noticing the sensations of how you breathe or what it's like to feel supported by the ground.
What are some things that you do to improve or maintain your mental health?