It is well known that to keep physically fit you must work on your diet and exercise regularly. If that’s true for your body, wouldn’t the same thing be true of your mind as well?
May is Mental Health Awareness Month—and The Center for Mental Health is asking you to get involved and take on the challenge of doing one thing, each day– designed to keep your mind, and your mental health, fit. Using these tools allows you to focus on your mental fitness and helps you create the path to your best life.
Each day in May, The Center for Mental Health will provide another tool or tip to keep your mental fitness front of mind– Print out our calendar, share on social media, ask a friend to join in.
Share your experience on social media! Tag us on social and use the hashtag #MentalHealthMatters or #Tools2Thrive
Day 1 – Get Some Sunshine
At the minimum, do your best to enjoy 15 minutes of glorious sunshine. Sunlight contains Vitamin D, which is a mood elevator —just don’t forget the sunscreen!
Day 2 – Volunteer
Volunteer your time for an organization your care about. Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and help create more opportunities for connectedness in your community. When you do good for others, you often feel good too.
Day 3- Drink a Cup of Coffee
Coffee consumption has been linked to lower rates of depression. Starting your day off with coffee, or another warm beverage, can help you start your day off right.
Day 4 – Take Time to Laugh
Watch funny videos or a comedy, hand out with a friend who loves to joke and laugh. Laughter can helps reduce anxiety and bring joy.
Day 5 – Practice Forgiveness
Holding a grudge can be a large weight to carry. If you are holding on to anger, try to practice forgiveness. It might be as simple as forgiving someone who cut your off while you were driving, or a deeper relationship problem. Either way, finding a way to let go can.
Day 6 – Yawn
Studies suggest that yawning can help cool the brain which improves alertness and mental function.
Day 7 – Keep it Cool Sleeping at Night
Try keeping it cool when you sleep tonight. The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit.
Day 8 – Go Off Grid
Turn your smart phone off for a day and disconnect from emails, alerts, and social media. Spend time outdoors or with someone you care about face-to-face.
Day 9 – Try Some Coloring
Coloring is a peaceful activity that forces you to slow down and clear your mind. Try coloring for just 20 minutes. Geometric patterns and more detailed coloring pages not only bring you peace, but a sense of completion when you are done.
Day 10 – Perform a Self-Screen
Take our anonymous, online mental health screening to quickly determine if you, our someone you know, would benefit from mental health services. Screening can help individuals discover the way to living a more fulfilled life. Visit https://www.centermh.org/help/ to start your screening today.
Day 11 – Plan a Getaway
With summer around the corner, the travel bug will hit many people. Whether you plan a full on vacation, or just a weekend camping trip and having something to look forward to can boost your mood and overall happiness.
Day 12 – Try Something New
Experiment with a new recipe, try a new project, start a garden, paint a picture. When you try something and utilize creative expressions your overall well-being is positively affected.
Day 13 – Show Some Love
Connection with others is a big piece of overall mental wellness. Show some love today to someone in your life. Quality relationships are essential for a happy, healthy life.
Day 14 – Eat Chocolate
You can give a boost to your brainpower by eating dark chocolate. The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate work together to improve alertness and mental functions.
Day 15 – Make Something for a Neighbor
It doesn’t have to be cookies but taking the time to make something and then give it away for no reason, not only provides you with a meaningful project to accomplish but it allows for connection with others and a feeling of joy when you bring happiness to others.
Day 16 – Enjoy Your Favorite Hobby
In such a busy world, some of our favorite hobbies can get often get forgotten about as work, kids, school, and just life in general gets in the way. Take a moment to rediscover a lost hobby or just spend time with your favorite one. Think about why you do it in the first place and reflect on the joy it brings.
Day 17 – Take a Warm Bath
Warm baths not only give us a place to relax, but they also provide physical benefits. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.
Day 18 – Write a Letter
Whether you send it or not, writing a letter to someone can be therapeutic, especially if you have something to say and don’t know how to say it. Writing allows us to reflect on something deeper than just the surface level and gives us a release for things that are weighing us down.
Day 19 – Build a New Habit
Habits aren’t always easy to build (or break), but adding a new, positive habit to your life can be a way to increase your mental and physical fitness. Think of a new habit you can try that will help your overall wellness—drink more water, take a regular walk, start an exercise routine—and build it into your every day life.
Day 20 – Spend Time with Pets or Animals
Time with your pets lowers the stress hormone cortisol, and simultaneously boosts oxytocin – which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.
Day 21- Smile
It may not always be the easiest thing to do, but it you can do it—SMILE! Smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down if you’re anxious.
Day 22 – Dance While You Work
Some work is just always there—house work, yard work– you might as well make it fun. Dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases endorphins, the body’s “feel-good” chemicals.
Day 23 – Be a Tourist in Your Own Town
It’s common to take part in tourist attractions when you are on vacation, but often times you ignore those things in your hometown. Find something in your area is experience; you may be surprised what cool things are in your own backyard.
Day 24 – Plan Your Week Ahead
Planning can help reduce early morning stress and give you more of a sense of control. Try prepping your lunches or picking out your clothes for the work week. The time you save in the morning could also be used to enjoy something else you love further improving your mindset for the day.
Day 25 – Eat More Brain Food
Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet–they are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia. Fish oil supplements work but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts can also help build healthy gut bacteria.
Day 26 – Sign-Up for a Class
Help your community by learning about how to help if someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts. The Center offers two classes, Mental Health First Aid and QPR. Our QPR virtual class is offered on the first Thursday of each month and is designed to cover the three steps (question, persuade, refer) that anyone can learn to help prevent suicide. It is based on the QPR Institute’s industry-leading approach to suicide prevention. For more in-depth information on suicide prevention, we also offer Mental Health First Aid courses regularly. Visit centermh.org/classes to register for QPR or Mental Health First Aid.
Day 27 – Go for a Walk in Nature
Whether it is a nice stroll through a park or a hike in the woods, research shows that physical activity in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost your overall well-being.
Day 28 – Send a Postcard or Thank You Note
Physical mail is not as popular as it once was, making it all the more special to send and receive it. Try sharing a message of thanks–not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them. Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness, both for the sender and the recipient.
Day 29 – Start a Gratitude Journal
Write down things you are grateful for in a journal. Include small things or big things but being mindful of what brings you joy can allow you to feel thankful for what you have.
Day 30 – Do Something with Friends or Family
Staying connected can help us stay strong. Plan a family outing or an activity with friends. These activities can help you maintain strong connections with the people you are closest with—which will bring you happiness, as well as connectedness far after the activity is over.
Day 31 – Tell Someone They Matter
Do it. Tell someone how important they are to you—right now. Showing appreciation for others not only allows you to open yourself up for loving and meaningful relationships, but it also boosts the mood and self-confidence of the person you are interacting with—and often they will express how much you matter too.
Mental health isn’t just something to worry about in May—working on your mental fitness—just like your physical fitness—takes effort and consistency. Carry these ideas through to every month of the year and share them with anyone who could use some extra tools in their mental health toolbox.
Some ideas and information for this article were provided via Mental Health America. For more information on Mental Health Awareness Month and Tools 2 Thrive, visit their website.