May is Mental Health Awareness month and a reminder of how important it is to know the signs and symptoms of depression in order to help yourself or those who are suffering. And, as importantly, it’s a time to remember that in order to prevent developing overwhelming anxiety and/or depression, it’s essential to create a holistic approach to mental health and well-being. This can support the integration of mind, body and spirit and provide a foundation to diminish the possibility of desperation, aloneness and hopelessness.
In our busy world, we all need to figure out how to take care of ourselves and learn better ways to support healthy habits for a lifetime. When people hear the term “wellness” they often think of physical health: sleeping 8 hours a night, drinking 64 ounces of water a day, working out for at least ½ hour three times a week, eating five fruits and vegetables a day, etc. These ideas are all very important, it’s true, but it is only one dimension of overall well-being. Mental, social/emotional, and spiritual aspects of well-being are also keys to prevention of anxiety and depression.
Here are 9 simple, holistic ideas to maintain your own mental health and well-being.
1. Keep physically active.
This is an obvious one but many people think it means going to a gym or doing something to raise heart rate. There are really many things you can do to keep active. Whether you love to dance, walk or bike, doing something active at least a few times a week helps to boost your energy and change you mood. It also allows stress to leave your body. All good reasons to get moving.
2. Develop a practice of meditation and/or yoga.
A meditation can be something like peeling an orange as slowly as possible. It’s amazing what you observe and notice when you slow things down. Doing an eating meditation is a wonderful experience and may not seem as difficult as a typical meditation. Whatever you choose, mindfulness and meditation can slow you down and rejuvenate and focus. Yoga incorporates both meditation and mindfulness, so it’s a great addition to help you balance your life.
3. Do something creative, like write in a journal, draw or doodle, color a mandala, or play an instrument.
As adults, we often get caught in the day-to-day struggles of living, juggling obligations and dealing with work and family. It may seem like taking the time to do something creative is wasteful. However, the reality is that being creative can calm the brain while also providing a different kind of energy to use for other duties. Being creative is a powerful way to help express feelings and emotions that may not be discussed or processed. Preventing overwhelm means sharing your emotions and stresses, as they happen, and doing so creatively, can be another way to express yourself.
4. Call or text a friend to check in.
Healthy relationships are the most important antidote to loneliness, unhappiness and isolation. Keeping connected to others provides support, emotional closeness and a community. One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help but it’s an incredibly important way to support overall well-being. YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE!
5. Do something you love.
Think about what you enjoy doing and make time for it. This is a way to take care of yourself, nurture yourself and feel connected to yourself – all important aspects of a well-balanced lifestyle.
6. Take a walk in nature or anywhere you can.
There is so much research about how walking in nature reduces stress and keeps you connected to the earth, which is very grounding and important in getting perspective on life. Hearing the birds, seeing the trees and flower and noticing your environment all help to remind us that we are connected to earth and life.
6. Blow some bubbles.
This may seem silly, but blowing bubbles is a way to do some deep breathing while also enjoying the experience of watching bubbles float away. It helps to keep you in connection with your body and slows you down to be in the moment.
7. Practice some deep breathing.
One of the wonderful aspects of yoga is that there is a lot of rhythmic breathing which is so beneficial to creating a mind-body connection while also slowing down heart rate and allowing yourself to be in the moment. The breathing techniques of Pranayama are worth learning and incorporating into your life.
8. Say “no” to something and then let it go.
Many people want to always be helpful and worry about offending others. But, saying “no” to something that will lead to stress or overwhelm (whether it’s a social event or a PTA committee to join) is good for your health. It allows you to set boundaries and let others know that you care about yourself which people respect and admire. Someone will always step in to help so letting go of guilt is an important part of learning to say “no”.
9. Create a relaxing evening with candles and soothing music.
How often do you take some time to really set the stage for relaxation? Even kids can enjoy a quiet evening with candlelight and soft music. Get away from electronics and just sit and relax.
Doing some of these 9 simple things will start your journey of self-care and prevention of overwhelm.
If you need help with finding ways to balance your life or in creating an integrative approach to well-being, call us at 301-960-1198.