May is Mental Health Month, and this year’s theme according to Mental Health America is “Tools 2 Thrive.” Whether we are facing a pandemic such as COVID, dealing with our own personal struggles or anything else, taking care of our mental health should always be a priority. How can you best do that?
Vinay Saranga M.D., a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry offers these helpful tips:
Always make time for yourself:
No matter what is going on around you or how busy you are, always take at least 20-30 minutes each day and focus on self-care. This means tuning out all the noise of the world and just getting quiet with yourself. You can take a hot shower, listen to some relaxing music, sit in quiet staring into space, and just relaxing your mind and body.
Find more fulfillment:
For most people, mental health is at its best when they feel fulfilled. Spend more time doing the things you enjoy the most and being around the people you like the best and who have a positive impact on you. Focus on building a career and hobbies that bring you fulfillment. Laugh more and incorporate a little fun into everything you do.
Focus on what you mentally consume:
The news of the world is pretty negative these days and will take a toll on your mental health after a while. It’s one thing to want to know what is going on in the world or to stay up to date with the latest on COVID, but limit your time in front of the tube and on social media. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
Focus on your breathing:
Most people exasperate the feelings of stress by breathing incorrectly and too quickly. Focus on slowing your breaths by inhaling through the nose, holding, and slowing exhaling through the mouth. Repeat several times and notice how relaxed it makes you feel.
Prioritize and avoid multitasking:
We are a society that loves to multitask. The result is increased stress, anxiety, a lack of quality and exhaustion. Instead, try prioritizing the tasks in front of you for the day, and knock them out in order of most important to least important. Not only will you feel better mentally, but you’re going to see more quality in the results.
We know how important exercise is to our mental and physical health, but most people still skip out on it. You don’t have to hit the gym for hours at a time. Even a simple 20-30 minute walk each day can do wonders for our mental health and well-being. Plus, it’s good for your cardiovascular health and maintaining a healthy weight.
Stay on top of your physical health:
We’ve known for a long time now the connection between mind and body. If you want to be at your best mentally, you need to take control of your physical health. Once it’s safe and the world opens again, see your primary care physician and get a physical. Focus on improving or keeping any health conditions you suffer from under control.
Don’t be embarrassed about your mental health struggles:
Even with everything we know about mental health, too many people still hold back getting help for their mental health struggles and talking about their emotions. There’s no shame in reaching out to a mental health professional, starting therapy or medication. At the very least, confide in a friend or loved one about what you are feeling because getting it off your chest will help immensely. If you are suicidal or know someone who is, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.