January is National Mental Wellness Month. Focusing a few minutes every day on enhancing mental wellness can help manage stress, increase resilience, and overall build a sense of well-being. Even if you have been neglecting your mental health in the past, it’s never too late to make some changes.
In addition to bringing awareness to the issue, mental wellness month is designed as a time to become more mentally resilient. Mental Wellness helps you learn how to handle stressful situations and negative circumstances because, after all, these situations are part of life.
Mental Wellness also helps manage the symptoms of serious mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Even if you are new to working on your mental wellness, there are some steps that you can take right now to improve the health of your mind. These steps can really make a difference and soon you’ll notice that you’re more content at home, at work, and in your relationships. If you stick to these habits, you’ll notice that you are more resilient and can deal with stress and change easily.
Here are some steps that you can take right now to improve the health of your mind and that can easily be added to your routine:
-Practice Mindfulness–You’ve probably heard a lot about mindfulness. That’s because researchers are finding that living in the present moment without judgment can help you be more positive and to better deal with situations as they arise.
Practicing mindfulness or quieting your mind with meditation or prayer can help you stop dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness can help you learn how to live your best life right now.
There are plenty of resources that are dedicated to the topic of mindfulness. You can also talk with a therapist or counselor. They can help guide you through the process so that you can incorporate this practice into your daily life.
-Develop a positive attitude and learn to be grateful–people with positive attitudes are apt to be happier, more successful, and better able to handle crises and stress. And in concert with the positive attitude, get an attitude of gratitude for what you have instead of dwelling on what you don't. It is often said that while every day may not be good, there is something good in every day
-Avoid negative self-talk and Slow down–laugh at your mistakes and say I'll remember next time. Notice with intention the things that you are doing. Drawing your awareness to the moment, especially those moments that are pleasant, enhances your ability to be mindful, and connected with yourself and others.
-Look for the Positives–It seems so much easier to focus on the negative when the world around you seems to be falling apart. However, you’re more likely to stay in that mindset unless you work to pull yourself out of it. You can start by finding some small positive things that are also happening. For example, if you have a place to live, at least you are warm, secure, and protected from the elements.
Another way to find the positive is to look for the silver lining. Perhaps you can find a new opportunity within a negative situation.
Additionally, you can practice some tips on becoming more positive. Create a more positive environment where you live and where you work. Learn to identify the fears that may be holding you back so that you can overcome them, and you’ll soon see more positive effects in your life.
-View a crisis situation as an opportunity–creative problem solving can expand your options. Try to make a list of good things that could result from the problem you're having to solve.
-Laugh and Take a break from stress –Humor is a great stress reducer. Studies indicate laughter can make you healthier. Eliminating or reducing stress and all the things that are not healthy or helpful to you can really improve your mental health. It is important to learn how to set boundaries in your life. Remember everyone has hard days, but when these lead into weeks or even months, it takes a toll on the mind and the body. Continued stress can wreak havoc on the body, but it can also lead to anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
-Spend Quality Time with Friends and Family–People really do need other people. Socializing is important for your mental well-being. When making human connections, chemicals are released in the brain that allow you to feel better. Make sure you’re spending quality time with those who are close to you. Learn more about each other. Find ways to be a better friend. Learn a new skill together. Sure, sitting back and watching TV can be a nice break from the day, but make sure you actually engage with others in your life to create more meaningful relationships that will improve your mental wellness and theirs.
-Exercise–Regular exercise increases energy and releases brain biochemicals to ward off depression and anxiety. Just a 15 minute walk a day will help keep body and soul together.
-Improve your diet–During times of stress you can skip meals or eat junk food. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fiber will help you maintain the physical and mental stress you need to deal with the situation.
-Take care of yourself and get enough rest–Enhancing our physical wellness also improves mental health. Exercising, eating well, getting enough sleep, and treating physical illness are all important steps to take to help build an overall sense of wellbeing.
-Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed–When you feel like you can’t do all of these things on your own or if you feel like things are not getting better. You need to remember that it is ok to seek support and talk to people who care about you. Seek help from family, friends, support groups, and professionals. They are here to help you. You don’t have to do this alone. It is brave to ask for help.
We also want to include these on the DO NOT LIST:
-You don’t need to use alcohol as a sleep aid–as it actually disrupts your sleep within 4 hours.
-Don't overuse caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, or food for emotional support–There are other ways that can help you find emotional support.
Utilizing these mental health-enhancing practices can help bolster your mental wellness during Mental Wellness Month and every day. Remember this when you are working on your Mental Health Wellness.