Tuesday, May 18, 2021
May is National Mental Health Month. Did you know that caring for your mental health is just as important as caring for your physical health?
Physical and mental health are linked - meaning when one is in poor condition, often so is the other. In addition to watching out for our physical health, we also need to be doing everything we can to take care of our mental health.
Self-care is critically important and usually the last thing we consider in our daily lives, but it is imperative that we begin to find ways to take care of ourselves and others. Especially during these ever-changing and uncertain times.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-care. Here are a few ways you can protect your mental health today and forever.
- Keep up with a regular diet and exercise routine. If you are looking for easy ways to get or stay active, there are many free workout channels on video platforms like YouTube, as well as smart phone apps for running, yoga, and more.
- Read a book or magazine. Reading provides a break from the real world, a chance to walk away from it all for at least a little while. Whether you are getting lost in a fantasy novel, solving a mystery, or learning about the newest parenting techniques, reading can provide a much needed escape from reality.
- Take a nap. Catching up on sleep and recharging your body are great ways to practice self-care. Rest, re-charge, and get ready to continue the rest of your day with energy.
- Try something new. Do something you have never done before. Whether it is putting together a puzzle or painting a picture, channel your energy into trying something you've always wanted to do but never made time for.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness. Help keep your brain "trained" through meditation - the practice of mindfulness and concentration that can allow you to gain important insights about yourself and the world around you.
- Free write or journal. Set a timer and take ten minutes each day to write yourself a letter. While you can chose to write about anything, make sure to include the things you love and admire about yourself and things you want to see in your future.
- Take time to laugh! Laughter is said to be contagious. Shared laughter creates bonds between people, increasing happiness and a sense of togetherness. A good belly laugh can actually relieve tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy, or check out some cute videos online and get the laughter rolling.
Most importantly, it is okay to not be okay during this time. It is okay to ask for help. Here are a few ways you can reach out for help during this difficult time.
- Talking with a friend. If you are struggling consider opening up to a trusted friend, partner, or family member. It might be scary at first, but chances are the person will be glad you told them how you are feeling and will be happy to support you and lend a listening ear.
- Talking with a professional. If you think you could benefit from professional help reach out to a local provider in your area. Many mental health providers are also offering telehealth services. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse ahs a free helpline available. 1-800-273-8255.
- Be gentle with yourself. Do what you can to maintain a healthy work-life balance and give yourself breaks when you know you need them. Try not to hold yourself to unrealistic expectations when it comes to focus on productivity.
Whatever it means to you, there is no better time than now to make your mental health a priority.