May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time for raising awareness about mental health as something we should all care about and strive to preserve.
Unfortunately, many people only start paying closer attention to their mental health when times get tough and they start to struggle. Too often, we put ourselves on the backburner and don’t take care of our emotional, psychological and social well-being. However, this only does damage to not just our mental health, but also our physical health. In some cases, it can also increase the risk of developing a mental illness.
This is why creating a daily mental health routine is so important. By turning healthy behaviors into habits, you can improve your mental health and build resilience.
What to Add to Your Mental Health Routine
Not only do you need enough hours, but you need quality sleep that isn’t interrupted. Quality sleep supports brain function and mood in addition to cognitive activities like making decisions, focusing on a complex task, and using judgement.
Life is full of demands, but it’s important to take your own time to relax and do things you enjoy. Setting aside leisure time can help you prevent burnout, reduce stress, and tap more into your creative side. Try to take at least 20 minutes/day to devote to rest and fun.
People You Love
Humans are naturally social, and whether you’re an extravert or introvert, we all need people in our lives who love and support us. Pick up the phone to chat with a loved one or schedule some time to enjoy their company.
Physical activity releases endorphins, improves mood and cognition, relieves stress, and has countless other health benefits. Moving for just 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help you meet health recommendations to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week.
Nutrition can have a big impact on your mental health. Foods that are rich in vitamin B12 and folate can help improve your mood, while vitamin D has been credited with helping mood regulation and increasing dopamine levels.
A Break from Screen Time
Too much time spent on our digital devices (phone, computer, TV) can increase stress, feelings of restlessness, and the tendency to compare yourself to others on screen. Excessive screen time has also been linked to a reduction of gray matter in the brain, which can lead to problems with impulse control.
Time with Nature
Nature has a positive impact on mood and a calming effect that reduces tension and stress. Spend some time in your garden, go on frequent nature walks, visit the beach or a local nature preserve, or just spend more time relaxing in your backyard or on your patio.
Like physical health, mental health is an important part of your overall wellness. To promote good mental health and increase your mental resiliency, try working more of the habits shown above into your daily routine. Don’t just wait to practice these behaviors when you are stressed, upset or overwhelmed – aim to do them every day! For more tips, click here.