How’s Your Mental Health?
How’s Your Mental Health?
by Shannon Lynch
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and a good opportunity to think about our mental health to ensure that we are healthily coping with the everyday stresses and demands of life.
Mental health can be difficult to describe as it involves a number of factors, including our social, emotional, and psychological well-being. It affects how we think and feel, act, and make choices and relate to other people, says the National Institute of Mental Health.
With 2020 behind us, but plenty of unknowns still ahead, many of us have experienced periods of uncertainty, doubt, loneliness, stress, and anxiety. Some of those feelings may continue. Taking time to acknowledge how we feel and practicing self-care can help us manage periods of stress.
Daily self-care includes exercise, which can boost your mood; healthy eating to give you energy; plenty of water to stay hydrated; and getting enough sleep, so that you wake up rested and refreshed. Everyone has different demands on their lives, so everyone’s idea of self-care will be a little bit different, but these additional tips may help you cope when you are feeling down:
- Prioritize:Set goals and priorities that work for you. Try not to schedule too many activities during the day that, realistically, you can’t accomplish. Give yourself a pat on the back or a high five at the end of the day for all that you were able to do. But, importantly, don’t berate yourself if some things didn’t get done. Tomorrow is another day!
- Stay Positive: It’s easy to dwell on our negative feelings, so challenge yourself to incorporate at least one positive thing into your daily routine to help break that habit. That could be listening to the birds sing in the morning, talking to a friend, taking a nature walk, marveling at how fast your tomato plants are growing, eating anything chocolate. You get the idea!
- Practice Gratitude: Identify three things each day that you are grateful for and write them down or review them in your mind before you go to bed. This can be a wonderful habit to cultivate; when you practice daily gratitude, you’ll soon realize how much you have to be grateful for.
- Reach Out: Staying connected with friends and family is very important to our emotional health. Now that we can safely have face-to-face get-togethers and conversations again, we should take advantage of every opportunity to re-establish those relationships that are so essential to our emotional well-being.
- Relax: Identify things that help you relax and unwind. Maybe that’s a bath before bed, reading a new book, cranking up the tunes and dancing around the house, sitting outdoors with no agenda but to feel the sun on your face, spending time in the garden, cooking, engaging in a hobby. Discover what works for you and make it a priority in your life.
Self-care each day can help you manage your mental well-being, but there may be times when everything in your life seems overwhelming. In that case, the best way to practice self-care is to seek professional help. Speak with your health care provider, who can refer you to a mental health specialist if needed.
Shannon Lynch is the Executive Director of Summit by Morrison, a senior living community offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and respite care. Summit by Morrison is part of The Morrison Communities in Whitefield, NH, which includes the Morrison Skilled Nursing Facility and Sartwell Place Assisted Living.
The Morrison Communities is a non-profit 501©(3) charitable community that has been providing quality healthcare to residents of New Hampshire’s North Country since 1903. For more information, go to www.themorrisoncommunities.org