Since all the way back in 1949, May has been officially known as Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S. And while organizations like the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Mental Health America are always advocating to end the stigma around mental health and educate the public about mental illness, May is the time when we’re all encouraged to take part. According to NAMI, 1 in 5 people will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime––so it’s important that talking about (and caring for) your mental health is normalized. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 7 ways you can honor your mental health this month.
Spend Some Time Journaling
Putting a pen to paper is a great way to clear your mind (and figure out what’s even going on in there). This month, aim to make a commitment to journaling regularly. Whether it’s 5 minutes a day, once a week, or at the middle and end of the month, set a journaling goal and try to stick to it. Then, when the time comes, sit down and practice stream of consciousness writing––i.e. write whatever pops into your brain, even if it doesn’t make sense. You might just be surprised by what you uncover, and how relaxed you feel afterward.
Make Time for Creativity
This one can take many different forms. There’s painting, drawing (may we suggest an adult coloring book?), music, photography, and many other forms of creative expression. Pick whatever sounds inviting to you, and don’t worry about the final product. The sheer process of creation is often therapeutic, but many of us rarely make the time for it. Try scheduling a creative window into your week to ensure that you don’t miss out. Your mental health will thank you for it.
Go For a Walk
Being outside and getting some fresh air has been shown to improve your mental health. Studies indicate that simply spending time outside in nature can lower your stress levels, improve your energy levels, and even decrease symptoms of depression and depression in some cases. And May is the perfect time to reap these benefits. With the temperature rising, trees blooming, and April showers finally subsiding, it’s the ideal time of year for a rejuvenating walk.
Attend a Meditation Class
Meditation can feel pretty intimidating if you’ve never tried it before. And even if you’re a seasoned meditation pro, it can be challenging to stick to a routine. That’s where classes come in. They provide structure and guidance, which makes the meditation experience much easier and more enjoyable. Plus, there’s the camaraderie of sitting in a room filled with fellow meditators––there’s really nothing like it. Just Google “meditation classes near me” and you’re bound to find a yoga studio or mindfulness center that offers classes near you.
Do Some Yoga
Speaking of yoga studios, a great way to prioritize your mental health is by doing yoga. In addition to being a physical exercise practice, yoga often incorporates aspects of mindfulness with each movement. Not only that, but according to Real Simple, there are actually proven mental benefits to yoga. Research indicates that regular yoga practice can help to manage bipolar disorder symptoms, reduce stress, and even boost your mood. Look up studios near you, or find a YouTube video for a completely free approach to the wellness practice.
Sit Down for a Heart-to-Heart
An important aspect of mental health is talking about how you’re feeling. As the Mental Health Foundation of the UK explains, “Talking can be a way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head for a while. Just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone.” And even if you’re feeling pretty good right now, it’s important to make open, honest conversations about mental health a regular occurrence in your life. That way when you are struggling, it’ll be much easier to approach the subject and get the support you need.
Tackle Your Spring Cleaning
Channel your inner Marie Kondo by doing a major spring cleaning sweep. Get rid of any clutter, especially around your workspace, and aim for a more minimalist living space. According to a study conducted at the University of California, people who live in messy or cluttered homes display higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So by simply cleaning your home, you’ll be reducing current and future stress––which can have major implications for your mental wellbeing.
Written By: Kara Cuzzone