Mental Health America introduced the concept of mental health awareness month, also known as mental health month or “May is Mental Health Month”, in 1949. The month is meant to increase awareness and education through the media, local events and screenings about mental illness, including mood disorders, bipolar disorders, anxiety disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders and personality disorders. Mental Health America defines a theme for each year’s mental health awareness month; 2021’s theme is “Tools 2 Thrive,” and it focuses on providing tips and a toolkit for prioritizing mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now more than ever, with the uncertainty and stress of a global pandemic and the incredible losses that so many of us have experienced over the last year, prioritizing mental health and wellness is of critical importance.
How can I prioritize wellness, not only during mental health awareness month but in every month of the year?
Set boundaries. Whether that means politely turning down a party invitation or removing a toxic relationship from your life, you should only hold space for the things that serve you and clear away the things that do not.
Go to therapy or counseling. Simply talking to another person can do wonders for mental health and wellness. While certainly not a cure, several therapy modalities that are effective at treating mental health disorders.
Take breaks. Take an extra-long lunch break to take a walk around the block. Order delivery instead of cooking dinner. Fold your laundry tomorrow. You aren’t expected to do it all, one hundred percent of the time.
Lean into the bad days, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Even when receiving treatment or feeling like you are making strides with your mental health, there are bound to be days when your depression makes it hard to get out of bed or your anxiety leads to a panic attack. You are not a failure when this happens – you are human.
Meditate and practice mindfulness. Journaling, exercise, breathwork – whatever works for you to feel more present and grounded, go with it.
Establish a daily routine. The world can feel a bit less scary if you know what time you’re waking up every morning, when you’re taking your lunch break and fueling your body, and when you should start to get ready for bed. It may seem unimportant, but penciling in things like breakfast or your yoga practice will strengthen the feeling of stability throughout the day.
Connect with a friend. It may help them as much as it helps you. Note that you shouldn’t only call the friend with the best shoulder to cry on when you need support. As much as you can, make the effort to maintain and deepen your friendships every day. Whether you send daily check-in texts or plan weekly catch-up calls, fostering these friendships over time will nourish you and naturally build up a support system.
Embrace a hobby or two. Plant a vegetable garden on your patio; take up knitting; start training for a 5K. Keep your hands busy. Don’t feel pressured to turn your hobby into income, either. Make time to do things that make you happy, for that reason alone.
Raise mental health awareness. Facing mental illness can feel lonely and isolating, especially when you don’t know of anyone who might be struggling with the same challenges. If you feel comfortable, volunteer with a nonprofit or post on social media to help educate your community.
Accept and address your feelings. This can be done with the help of your mental health counselor, and it takes time to be comfortable with it.
Remember to eat. Bonus points if you can eat something healthy, however, that isn’t always possible when you’re not feeling your best. Both your mental and physical health needs to get some calories every day. Cooking new-to-you recipes may also become one of your favorite hobbies!
Stay hydrated. Similarly, drinking water regularly will make you feel energized (and it will make your skin glow). Try drinking ice-cold water to make it a bit more interesting, or choose beverages that count towards your fluid intake and can be hydrating in small doses, like sparkling water, coffee or tea.
Read a book. Get lost in another world for a little bit. Dive into historical nonfiction, a romcom beach read, or one of your kid’s picture books.
Find coping skills that work for you. Whether the tips on this list work for you or you have perfected your own ways of tending to your mental health, you’re more likely to check in with yourself when you feel your methods are effective.
Freedom Detox is observing mental health awareness month by raising awareness and educating others about mental illnesses present among our friends, family, and peers. Reach out today at 800-475-2312 to discuss how to prioritize your mental health and wellness.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as medical advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a doctor-patient relationship.