It is no small coincidence that National Mental Health Awareness Month falls during one of the most turbulent times in our generation’s recent history. People living in our country today and across the world are experiencing social, emotional, physical, and economic hardship as never before. Families are out of work, unable to leave their homes, and many are unable to school. Businesses are forced to closed, uncertain if they will ever reopen. A month that is usually celebrated as the beginning of summer is now something else entirely. As many states move into phased reopening this May, many aspects of our life will not return to normal this summer. The warmer temperatures, longer daylight hours, and more opportunities for outdoor activities will be a great way to draw attention to mental health this May.
When people are anxious or depressed, they tend to stay indoors and stay inactive. It is especially easy to do this while so many things are closed and we’re encouraged to stay home. You can encourage others to venture outdoors and stay active by posting on social media, joining social media challenges for fitness, and inviting them to join you on a hike or outing.
Move Your Body
Most gyms and fitness centers across the country will remain closed for much of May and then limit equipment and patrons for coming months. Much of your mental and emotional stress may be caused by your inability to workout. Whether you’re missing the gym or you’ve never gone before, you can benefit greatly by moving your body. No, walking in your neighborhood or on a trail is not the same as pumping iron and it won’t build massive muscles, but the health benefits are proven. Moving your body releases endorphins that improves mood, improves sleep, relieves stress and anxiety, and more.
Balance Your Diet
For weeks we have been stocking up on groceries and cooking and eating at home. Maybe you’ve eaten take out or drive-thru fast food. Maybe you have been getting free school lunches for your children. Regardless of how you’ve been eating, it is likely that fast food and dine-in restaurants will be opening in your area soon, and you’ll be tempted to splurge on dining. Whether you’re eating at home, from a drive-thru window, or in a restaurant dining room, it’s imperative that you maintain a balanced diet. Too much of a good thing can be bad for you both physically and mentally. Too much of a bad thing—well, that’s worse.
Drink More Water
Stress and anxiety doesn’t just lead us to make poor food choices. Many who are experiencing this pandemic and stay-at-home orders are drinking more caffeine than usual, drinking more alcohol than usual, and drinking less water. Drinking enough water prevents the brain-fog of dehydration, allowing you to think clearly, and feel better physically. Drinking too much alcohol and caffeine can have a negative effect on your mood and your sleep pattern.
Create a journal in a simple notebook or on your phone so that you can keep track of the positive things in your life. Writing down something you’re grateful for every day can improve well-being, mental health, and happiness. Try to thank other people for their contributions to your life, whether it’s a family member helping out in the house or the mail man taking extra care with your packages. Practice gratitude long enough and your worldview can slowly shift from negative to positive.