May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Whether you struggle to keep yourself mentally healthy or you know someone who does, this is a good month to ask yourself and others: “How are you doing mentally?” Here are some things you can do this month to nourish your mental health.
According to multiple studies done by gratitude expert Robert Emmons, gratitude is extremely beneficial for our physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. This is because gratitude shifts your focus from yourself to others, from your negative circumstances and feelings to the positive aspects of your life. While there are <a href=”https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/ten_ways_to_become_more_grateful1/”many ways to practice gratitude</a>, keeping a gratitude journal can make gratitude a habit and keep you mentally healthy.
Talk it Out/Write it Out
Another way to keep your mind healthy is to regularly relieve it of the stress it has been carrying around. Talking with a friend or, better yet, a certified counselor, can really help you process these feelings in a healthy manner.
You may also want to try doing a brain dump. Brain dumping is a technique that helps to relieve overthinking and places your mind somewhere else. You will be able to live with a clear mind each day because you know your troubling thoughts are being resolved.
Each morning when you wake up or before you go to sleep at night, take out your notebook or journal. Simply write down whatever comes to mind. This will effectively remove any clutter in your mind, thus satisfying your brain by acknowledging, organizing, and removing any problems.
Give Your Body Good Food and Good Sleep
If you want to keep your mental health in check, make sure you’re eating the right kinds of foods. Sugary and processed foods can wreak havoc on your body. Some individuals have even reported they became less depressed and anxious when they cut sugar from their diet.
Did you know that not getting enough sleep has also been associated with poor mental health? Sleep deprivation makes you more prone to mental health issues such as depression, ADHD, and anxiety. If you struggle with insomnia or have difficulty falling asleep, the first thing to try is cutting back on screen time before bed and staying active throughout the day. Additionally, talk to your doctor about your sleeping difficulties, just in case there’s something else going on.
Get Moving (Outdoors Preferably)
Whether you’re going for a run or you’re gathering acorns with your toddler, getting outside is good for the soul. Sunshine is filled with vitamin D, a powerful vitamin that can lower blood pressure and boost your mood. In fact, studies have shown that “stress is relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. Time in green spaces significantly reduces your cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Nature also boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promotes happiness.”
Exercise boosts dopamine production as well. Meaning that when you exercise outdoors, it’s actually twice as good for your mental health.
Stay in Touch
Strong ties with family and friends who support you are an excellent way to relieve the stress in your life. You will benefit from the feeling that people care for you and you are included meaningfully in the daily lives of others.
Your family and friends will often have views and opinions that are very different from the thoughts you have in your head. Keeping in touch will help you stay active, keep you grounded, and provide you with practical ways to solve problems.
Take a Timeout
One of the best things to nourish your mental health is to simply take a timeout. A change of pace or scenery is good for you. Whether it is a quick walk outside, a lunch break with friends, or an entire weekend away, your mind will reap the benefits.
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important parts of life. By making a few simple changes and following these practical tips, you can start living with a healthy, happy mind today.