May is Mental Health Awareness month, and to pay homage to this I have decided to share 5 things that you can do to improve your own mental health this month. Of these five ideas, are there any that you are not doing yet? If so, can you start this month? If you have any barriers to getting started and feel like you need a boost, send me a message!
Pay attention. Mindfulness, otherwise known as nonjudgmental awareness, helps us to check in with ourselves. How are you feeling physically today? Emotionally? Are you sad, happy, a little bit of both? Do you feel like something is off? Just paying attention to these feelings makes it easier to resolve problems. For anyone who doesn’t know where to start, apps such as Calm and Headspace guide you through quick mindfulness crash-courses and meditations. For a free month of Calm click here.
Practice gratitude. Make note of what you are grateful for. We live in a world that is focused on the negatives. The negativity bias, or negativity effect, shows that humans naturally give 3 times more weight to negative thoughts than to positive thoughts. If you look in a newspaper on any given day, you will see that 90% of what you read is a negative story. This means we have to work extra hard to stay positive! Set up cues throughout your day to remind you to focus on the positive. I have a bracelet that says “gratitude” on it to help me out. Others like to keep a gratitude journal to record at least one thing a day they are thankful for.
Connect with others. Whether you are an introvert, extrovert, or something in between, no man is an island. Maintaining connections with others, or creating new ones, improves our mental health by helping us feel less isolated and more engaged with the world around us. Your friends, your family, and professional connections are crucial to your mental health as they provide you with extra support when you need it. Meet up with a friend for coffee. If you can’t do that, pick up the phone (bonus points if it’s not a text) and give someone on your mind a call just to say “Hi.” It’s a nice distraction from the negativity bias.
Get moving. It is no secret that exercise raises your endorphins. Endorphins released during exercise help relieve pain and induce feels of happiness. In addition, the stress hormone cortisol is released during exercise. If you exercise regularly, your stress hormone levels regulate themselves and your body begins to have a better reaction to stress.
Don’t bottle it in. There is no reason you have to struggle with anything on your own, but here’s the catch: no one can help you if you don’t let them know that you need it. Reach out to a mental health professional or even a close friend or family member to let them know how you’re feeling. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our internal monologue that we lose sight of a clear, and sometimes obvious, answer. A little perspective check could be all it takes.
For more ideas on ways to improve your mental health, you can always find me on juliadelbalzo.com. Try these 5 ideas and see if you’re feeling more sound of mind by the end of the month. And remember: consistency is key to success!