"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

Five Ways to Care for your Mental Health

by Katelyn Rieder

May is Mental Health Awareness Month—a time where we recognize the importance of taking care of this often overlooked part of our health. During this month, we invite everyone to spend time thinking about and caring for your own mental wellbeing. Being mindful of our mental health has been known to improve various aspects of our lives, from physical health to our ability to focus. Continue reading to learn of a few methods for giving your mental state a little R&R:

1. Develop a nighttime routine.

One of the most significant contributors to our mental health is the amount of sleep we get each day. It is recommended to at least get eight hours of sleep every night. This allows both our body and mind a chance to rest at the end of each day. Because sleep is so important, it is equally as important to treat the time before bed with care.

Cleansing our face with a simple skin care routine is not only important for washing off the day’s wear and tear, but also provides us with a few minutes for taking care of ourselves. Even if we just have water and basic soap, the effects on our mental health are the same as if we had dozens of products. Specifically washing with warm versus cold water can also soothe our mind and get us settled into a nighttime headspace.

We could also take time before going to bed to journal about our day, any worries we may have, hopes for tomorrow, etc. Getting our thoughts down on paper gives us the permission to put them aside and get a good night’s sleep.

Turning off phones and digital screens well before bed has also been known to improve sleep. The blue light in screens can trick our brains into thinking it is still daytime, thus being more awake than tired. Taking all of these methods into account can contribute to more restful sleep.

2. Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness, meditation, prayer, etc. has been known to help ground us when our minds may be distracted with thoughts or worries. It allows us to focus on simply existing in the present. There are many different methods for practicing mindfulness that range from a physical activity, to simply laying down and engaging in a mental exercise. We are fortunate to live in a world that has thousands of resources for things like mindfulness at the click of a button. From smartphone apps to articles, we can find a system for meditation that works for us.

While solo mindfulness is the more popular form, meditation with a teacher, group, or loved one also has its benefits. Joining a yoga class or something similar not only can benefit our physical health, but our mental health as well.

3. Care for your physical health.

Similar to the importance of sleep, our physical health also plays a part in our mental wellbeing. We’re more likely to feel happier after eating a full, nutritious meal versus fast food takeout. It is important to weave in food from all the main food groups (carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and fat) into our diets to keep our body functioning.

Additionally, keeping our bodies moving can contribute to a healthier mental state. No matter the physical capabilities, doing simple arm or leg motions can get our blood flowing to release endorphins—a chemical in our brains that releases stress and anxiety. Getting outside to walk or soak up the sun is also an effective solution. Finding an exercise that does not push our abilities too much but also gets our blood flowing is ideal.

4. Have open conversations with loved ones.

The stigma behind mental health conditions is still prominent in our society. One of the ways we can normalize them is by having open, honest conversations with the people around us. Check in with friends and family and ask how they’re doing. Sometimes the one thing a person needs to hear is a simple, “How are you?”

While it’s important to check in with our loved ones, it’s equally as important to take care of ourselves as well. We should avoid taking on a ‘therapist’ role for all of our friends and family, as this can lead to draining and sacrificing our own mental health. If we’re struggling we should seek out support from the people close to us, and vice versa.

5. Speak with a mental health professional.

Regardless of whatever we may be experiencing, mental health professionals can assist. Going to therapy or counseling regularly not only helps us when going through big life changes, but also prepares us with coping mechanisms in everyday life. They can coach us through our feelings and understand where they may be coming from. They can listen to problems we may not want to share with anyone else and provide unbiased advice. No matter how alone or complicated we may feel, we can take comfort in the fact that there is always someone out there who will listen.

Whether you use these five methods or not, we hope you take the remainder of Mental Health Awareness Month (and all the months after) to take effective and beneficial care of your mental health.

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