Mental health has been a hot topic over the last decade, but it doesn’t always have to refer to mental illness. While millions of people suffer every year from mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, bipolar, post-traumatic stress, etc., it is crucial for everybody to take care of their mental health! As you may know, stress can be incredibly harsh on our bodies and affect us in ways we may have never realized before. Stress can cause symptoms including high blood pressure, increased heart rate, effects on libido, sleep (too much or not enough), nausea, headaches, and migraines. If long periods of high stress continue to go untreated, it can result in increased anxiety or depression.
To help prevent increased stress in our lives, it is valuable to always keep up with routine self-care activities in our day-to-day schedules. If you’re noticing times of heightened periods of stress, it could be helpful to engage in your self-care activities more during those times to reduce the stress and symptoms you may be experiencing. Everyone’s self-care will look different, but these are a few tips that help prevent stress and increase serotonin levels:
- Get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily – short evening walks are an excellent way to succeed in this (on rainy days, YouTube exercise videos can also be helpful and fun!)
- Eat a balanced diet – talking with your primary care physician may help to understand what foods are best for you to consume and avoid
- Meditation/yoga – these activities have proven to regulate your body and help towards feeling calmer and more peaceful throughout the day
- Spend time with nature – being outside is a great source of vitamin D (don’t forget your sunscreen!)
- Express gratitude – journaling what you’re thankful for or showing gratitude towards family, friends, and important people in your life can be a simple reminder of all of the positive things you have to look forward to
A few more for fun:
- Spend quality time with family
- Take a quiet drive by yourself
- Read an enjoyable book
- Take a relaxing bath
- Plant flowers or start a garden
- Write a letter to a friend you haven’t seen in a while
While we are celebrating mental health in May, remember that taking care of our mental health is a life-long journey and that these tips can be useful all year round. Pass along these suggestions to friends and family as a friendly reminder that taking care of our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical health!
Destiny Budd, LMHCA