May is Mental Health Awareness Month

 

 

 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

 

One of the many things this pandemic brought to the forefront is the importance of health.  And, not only our physical health but our mental health as well.  Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affecting your overall health and quality of life.

Most of us experienced depression, anxiety, stress, in one form or another during these unprecedented times.  It didn’t just target one age group, it targeted everyone.  Children felt the isolation of being separated from their peers.  Some parents struggled with having their children at home.  Everyone had to deal with the new “norm” in varying degrees.  It’s not a stretch to say that everyone’s mental health was tested and put through the ringer.

Along with this experience is the awareness of self-care—its importance in a day and age where life tends to be just a tad bit more complicated.  In today’s post, we will look at some ways to care for ourselves, so we can take better care of the people around us.  Just like the announcements before you take off during your flight: “In the event of an emergency, put your mask on first before helping others.”  It’s the same with self-care.  We need to take of ourselves mentally before we can be of any help to others.

Here are some self-care tips to improve our mental health:

  • Spend some time outdoors:  Getting some fresh air is excellent advice.  Put on your walking shoes and take a walk around the block and breathe.  A good walk clears your mind and gets those endorphins pumping.  Consider hiking or walking around a neighborhood park.  If you’re in the San Fernando Valley, there are a lot of spaces you can check out:  Lake Balboa/Anthony C. Beilenson Park, The Japanese Garden, O’Melveny Park—just to name a few.

 

  • Give yourself a time-out:  Remember how you hated being given time outs as a kid?  Well, getting a time out nowadays is a good thing.  The daily grind can wear out anyone who doesn’t take the time to breathe.  Before you start running on fumes, take some time out for you.  It doesn’t have to be a full-blown vacation.  It could just be visiting your local coffee shop or taking an extra ten minutes on your lunch break. 
  • Find your calm: When things get a little too stressful or overwhelming, you need to find your center.  Stress increases your anxiety.  Anxiety can open the door to a multitude of issues.  It’s a snowball effect that’s easily preventable if you can focus and find your inner peace.  As corny as it sounds, there’s an app for that.  There are a lot of apps out there to help you find you way to your zen:
    • Headspace provides guided meditation for all levels.
    • Calm helps you meditate, relax, sleep, and much more.  One of its highlights includes “7 Days of Calm”- a feature to help you learn how to meditate in seven days.
    • Breathe2Relax focuses on breathing exercises to reduce your “fight or flight” response, helping with stabilizing your mood, controlling your anger, and managing your anxiety.

 

  • Set your boundaries:  One of the best ways to fight stress and protect your mental health is setting your boundaries.  Give yourself permission to say no.  Don’t overcommit, even if you feel like you are letting someone down.  It’s better know your limits than trying to accommodate everyone.


  • Stay connected:  The old adage: “No person is an island” is a hundred percent true.  If being in a pandemic has taught our society anything, it’s this:  never underestimate the value of an honest to goodness, face to face conversation.  Hugs are important and we all need people we can depend on.

The key to improving your mental health is awareness.  It’s knowing when you need to take a break and knowing when you need to reach out for help.  It’s a valuable lesson for anyone at any age.  Taking care of your mental health is not selfish—it’s essential to your well-being as a person.