May 1, 2020
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While it’s always important to reflect on your mental wellbeing, the month of May is the perfect opportunity to dig a bit deeper. One in five adults in the U.S. struggle with navigating mental health, and yet it’s still one of the most stigmatized health issues. (We need to fix that!) The best way to combat the stigma is by talking about it!
Self-care isn’t just a buzzword, and for many, it’s more than a bubble bath. As we begin to return to normalcy after the pandemic, many of us are dealing with the lasting effects of the past year. It’s important to prioritize your mental health now more than ever. Developing healthy habits and behaviors can make a dramatic difference, while negative behaviors take a toll on your wellbeing. During May, let’s focus on developing some of these healthy behaviors!
1. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media.
Social media has a reinforcing nature. The platforms are designed to be addictive, and studies show prolonged use can impact mental health. Whether it’s being disappointed that your photo did not receive as many likes as you anticipated, comparing yourself to others’ images or experiencing a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), an excessive usage of social media can sometimes ultimately lead to anxiety and depression. For those who use iPhones, here’s a tip for restricting time spent on social media: you can use the Screen Time tool to set limitations for each application. Take some time to log off and live in the moment!
2. Take the “mind, body and soul” approach.
Think of it as a checklist: do one thing for your mind, one thing for your body and one thing for your soul every day. For example, reading a book stimulates the mind, going for a run energizes the body and calling your sisters for a check-in warms the soul. Remembering to balance activities that serve each of the three will prove helpful in maintaining mental health. Alternatively, if you ignore one area, you could feel negative effects.
3. Give meditation a try.
Between friends, family and work, you may find yourself neglecting your own needs. However, we all know you can’t pour from an empty cup! Meditation can help you relax and learn to live mindfully by taking a few moments a day just for yourself for some “me time.” If you’re a beginner, we suggest downloading a meditation app and devoting just a couple of minutes each day to breathing mindfully. While it may seem intimidating, and sometimes feels fruitless at first, meditation does get easier with practice. Quieting the mind and focusing on breathing is a tried-and-true method for easing anxiety.
4. Stick to a strict bedtime routine.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sleep is a must to maintain mental health. We all know how it feels to get wrapped up in that late-night Netflix binge-session, but try to avoid becoming a night owl. Choose a normal bedtime and stick to it! Turn off all electronics (including your phone, it’s hard, we know) an hour before bed and keep a regimented pre-sleep routine to ensure a restful night. This can include a before-bed relaxing yoga session, reading a few chapters of a book, or simply taking a few minutes to journal. These quiet activities prepare your brain for a deep, restful sleep. You’ll be amazed what a refreshing night of sleep can do for mental health.
5. Ask for help when you need it.
Have you ever caught yourself wishing you had a few extra hands to get everything done? Although you may not be able to grow any new ones, there will always be friends or family who can lend a helping hand. We all get overwhelmed sometimes, but if things become too much, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Allowing others to help you will not only improve your busy schedule, but it will also improve your mental wellbeing and stress levels.