May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Mental health encompasses one’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is how one thinks, feels, and acts, and it can even determine how someone handles stress, connects with others, and makes choices. Believe it or not, mental health is just as important (if not more) as one’s physical health.
For 2023’s campaign, Mental Health America determined the focus will be on how surroundings can impact mental health. It’s a designated time for individuals to reflect on how their environment can affect their mood and behavior. While many aspects of one’s day-to-day life can often be out of their control, there are steps individuals can take to take charge of their space and protect their well-being.
- Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the current moment. You can practice mindfulness through meditation, breathing exercises, or simply by focusing on the present moment while performing daily tasks. Don’t know how to start? Check out the Calm app for daily guidance.
- Stay Active: Moving and exercising releases endorphins that can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also assist in improving sleep quality, which is a huge component of one’s overall mental health. Incorporating small adjustments into your everyday life can make all the difference. Try going for a walk on lunch breaks, stretching while watching TV, or simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Connect with Others: Connecting with others can help reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation – emotional states that can lead to much more damage and extensive mental health conditions down the line. A great way to meet other like-minded people is by attending local meetups or networking events. Virtual connections are important too! How’s your LinkedIn presence been lately?
- Listen and Offer Support: One of the most important ways you can support someone struggling with mental health is by listening to them without judgment. Creating a safe space for them to express their thoughts and feelings can be extremely beneficial. You can also show empathy by helping connect them to necessary resources and support groups. Remember, you don’t need to have all the answers.
- Educate Yourself: Educating yourself on mental health can help you understand what a person is going through and how you can best assist. Try reading articles and or taking online courses on mental health to increase your knowledge and understanding. Visit Mental Health America to learn quick facts about mental health conditions, listen to their podcast, or tune in to their webinars.
- Encourage Self-Care: Encourage your friends to make healthy choices, attend social events, discover ways to relax, and find something to enjoy every day, even if it’s small. Taking care of all aspects of yourself will help improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
It is important to remember that mental health awareness shouldn’t be limited to one month a year. Instead, this month can be the beginning of ongoing efforts to promote mental health wellness and reduce its stigma. By prioritizing mental health and taking the steps to stand behind those who are struggling, we can work towards creating a more inclusive and compassionate world for everyone.