by Brandi Spring

It is increasingly common for people to relate to symptoms of various mental health conditions in today’s society. We are impacted by increased exposure to stressors such as the many unknowns surrounding the COVID19 pandemic, modifying working arrangements to being home instead of at the office and even just the forever present truth of inevitable changes life throws at us. 

Looking after your mental health needs to become a priority. If you have already implemented some of these techniques, please consider reading the other suggestions and adding them to your efforts.

Take breaks: Whether you have to set an alarm, schedule them into your calendar or put a sticky note on your computer, pencil in breaks. Stand up, stretch, go for a short walk. A mile-walk out in the fresh air can easily be accomplished in 20 minutes.

  1. Read or listen to audiobooks or podcasts that inspire you: Learning new things or simply validating your mental tools allows for a boost in temporary mental well-being while positively impacting long-term cognitive function. 
  2. Spend time with people who you love: This should go without saying; however, sometimes we need a reminder to reach out and say hello, set up a coffee date or plan a hike with a friend or family member who we love and appreciate. This is a win-win as it also helps the mental health of your loved one by being made to feel special.  
  3. Eat a balanced nutritional intake:
    • Start your day with a cup of water. While your coffee is brewing or your eggs are frying, wake your system up with a freshwater replenishment.
    • Plan to intake at least two non-starchy vegetables each day.
    • Consider taking the time to meal plan at least once. It will help you determine if that is something you could be disciplined to stick to.
    • Meal-prep easy grab and go foods when you know you have busy days ahead. When we are busy, we tend to grab easy snack-type food or unhealthy restaurant food.
  4. Embrace your blessings: We are surrounded by things to be grateful for. Many people are not naive to that fact. However, the benefits of “counting your blessings” are often underestimated. When you take time each day to verbalize what you are grateful for, you give your brain focus on the positive elements of your life. As you embrace blessings, they are allowed to blossom even further and often benefit others around you.
  5. Participate in a hobby: Maybe you want to learn something new or play a sport that you enjoyed. Look up local resources to get involved. This can stimulate positive moods and potentially generate new interpersonal connections if that’s desirable to you.
  6. Get ample sleep: If you are noticing yourself edgy or having fading energy, you may need to squeeze in a bit more sleep. Some professionals advise napping; others find more benefit to adding time to your nightly rest. Find what works for you and embrace that. A rested mind is far less susceptible to emotional and mental turmoil.
  7. Seek help: Sometimes, friends and family, new hobby partners, motivational speakers, and fresh air don’t quite tackle the battle inside the brain. Do not be ashamed if you need to meet with a medical professional to gain more clarity and comfort with your mental health. Although nearly half of American adults experience mental health illnesses, roughly 60% do not seek professional help. Be your advocate, but do not be afraid to add professional help to your resources toward great mental health.

Complex mental health care has become increasingly challenging due to an insufficient number of professionally trained mental health providers. With new concerns added to the mental health textbooks at such a fast pace, it is often challenging to keep an accurate pulse on our mental health. This knowledge should undoubtedly motivate us to take the essential steps toward mental well-being while also supporting those around us to do the same. 

One last note: Mental health is often overlooked in the workspace due to medical privacy standards. If you are a leader in your company, consider implementing mental health breaks for your team to take a walk, stretch, get some peace and quiet or have some social interaction that is not work-related. Also, consider monthly efforts at a minimum, such as a happy hour, team potlucks, start a walking group or some incentivized game.