Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
We're continuing to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, and because of its uncertain future, many people across the country (and the world) are experiencing the crippling weight of anxiety and depression.
As someone who has been struggling with bouts of both anxiety and depression way before the world got turned upside down, I've found myself having to work that much harder to gain control over it. And sometimes, it knocks me down—hard—but that's okay. What's important is that I get up and fight back. So, if you're struggling, don't let the current status of the world keep you from taking the steps and using the tools to better your health, both mentally and physically (because you can't have one without the other).
With May being Mental Health Month, it's important now more than ever to spread the word and talk about our mental health openly and honestly. Luckily for us, there are organizations out there dedicated to helping us break the stigma.
One of those organizations is Mental Health America (MHA), which is the "nation's leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans." MHA has put together a catalog full of ways to help you move forward in your journey to be kind to your mind. Some of those resources include financial support, combating anxiety, how to connect with others, and even webinars, live events, and workshops, among countless other tools.
MHA has a list of 31 tips "to boost your mental health." We've included 10 of them (below), but you can find the entire list here (taken directly from their website.)
- Track gratitude and achievement with a journal. Include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day.
- Start your day with a cup of coffee. Coffee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression. If you can’t drink coffee because of the caffeine, try another good-for-you drink like green tea.
- Set up a getaway. It could be camping with friends or a trip to the tropics. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks!
- Work your strengths. Do something you're good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task.
- Keep it cool for a good night's sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
- "You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." -Martin Luther King, Jr. Think of something in your life you want to improve, and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.
- Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint, or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.
- Show some love to someone in your life. Close, quality, relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.
- Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple pieces of dark chocolate every few days. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.
- “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” -Maya Angelou. If you have personal experience with mental illness or recovery, share on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr with #mentalillnessfeelslike. Check out what other people are saying here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also a great site for tools on how to gain control over your mental health, with dedicated areas for people having trouble with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Not only are those who are suffering from mental illness struggling with the pandemic, but many individuals are now finding themselves in vulnerable positions without an escape. Domestic violence, according to experts, may be increasing throughout this global crisis, as victims are trapped at home with their abusers. This can be detrimental to not only one's physical wellbeing but their mental state as well. Both the CDC and MHA have plenty of information for victims and survivors.
Do you have any mental health tips you'd like to share with us? Because what works for one person may not necessarily work for another. We're curious to hear your thoughts! We hope you all stay happy and healthy this Mental Health Month, as we take things one day at a time.