By: Ashley Breidenstein, RD, LDN
This past year has most likely tested your mental capabilities and strengths on several occasions. As we have all experienced rapid changes in our personal lives, at work, in our finances, etc., we may have put our mental health on the back burner as we went into fight or flight mode. But May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s a great time to remember to take care of yourself, focus on the healing value of connecting in safe ways, prioritizing mental health, and acknowledging that it’s okay to not be okay.
Here are some simple tips you can follow to nurture your mental and emotional health:
1. Get Moving: Exercising and staying active is just one way to boost your self-esteem and can help you sleep better, concentrate, and feel more refreshed. Exercising daily can help keep your brain and other vital organs healthy which helps to improve your overall mental strength.
2. Eat Well: Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and strong as do other vital organs in the body. Be sure to eat a balanced diet that includes foods such as nuts, seeds, whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, oily fish, and dairy products.
3. Stay Hydrated: Fluids, especially water, help flush your system of toxins, keep you hydrated, and helps signal integral pathways for your body to function at optimum capacity. Staying hydrated can keep your stress levels down, which means your brain will also respond to the reduced stress and improve your mood.
4. Keep In Touch: Social media, virtual meetings, and various video conferencing platforms have been a saving grace with being able to stay connected to those important to us. Keeping those intimate connections alive is an easy way to create a self of belonging, improve self-confidence and help reduce stress and anxiety – all benefits of maintaining good mental health.
5. Get Sleep: Sleep helps regulate the chemicals in our brain that transmit information. Most of these chemicals are important for controlling our moods and emotions. When our body lacks sleep, we can start to feel stressed or anxious which takes a negative toll on our mental health. Try to disconnect from technology at night, sleep in a dark room, and consider turning down the thermostat to achieve optimal sleep conditions for a restful night.
6. Find a Hobby: Even if you can only get in 30 minutes a day, try to set aside time to do something that you find enjoyable. When we don’t make time to do things that motivate us and make us happy, we often find ourselves feeling irritable or unhappy. Defend that time to do the things you enjoy!
With these tips, we can focus on calming our minds and improve our overall well-being. While 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness, everyone will face challenges and obstacles that affect their mental health. So be kind to your mind, and seek out the appropriate amount of support and quality of care to live a healthy and fulfilling life.