In case you’re not aware, May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. In the UK, Mental Health Awareness Week kicked off on Monday, 13 May and its theme this year is “Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies”. To round up the timeline, 10 October is World Mental Health Day, which was initiated by the World Health Organization.
So, what have you done this month for your mental health? How do you keep yourself “mentally fit”? Don’t despair, you still have some time and mental fitness should be part of your daily routine anyway so it’s always a good time to start. And if you still aren’t convinced, please know that even William, Kate, Harry and Meghan speak up for this cause.
- Get Enough Sleep
Let’s start at the beginning of the day, or at the end of the night. Sleep is crucial for your immune system to function well, for your mental health and even for your country. According to a study carried out by RAND, the U.S. loses up to $ 411 billion a year because of the consequences of sleep deprivation. You should sleep between 6-8 hours per night, and even 15 minutes less can make a huge difference. The World Economic Forum also made a very informative and concise video about the importance of sleep if you want to quickly learn more.
- Fuel Your Brain
The so-called “brain food” or “superfoods” help you to keep your mental fitness up. You need the right fuel for your brain so to say – you wouldn’t save on the right fuel for your car, would you? The next time you’re grocery shopping, grab some nuts like walnuts or almonds instead of the candy and look out for green vegetables and fatty fish. If you’re looking for some facts then the UK Household Longitudinal Study could be the right one to look at. It reveals that adding one portion of vegetables and fruit to your daily diet increases your mental well-being and life satisfaction . The best part about eating vegetables and fruit is that you don’t feel guilty or heavy afterwards.
- Stress Less, Laugh More
Let’s assume that we all know that (too much) stress isn’t good for your health, including your mental health. The question is now, what to do when you enter a period of stress (because you will sooner or later) and you feel sad, angry and desperate at the same time? You hit pause. This means that you stop what you’re doing, even if it’s only for five minutes, and you get out your “joy list”. Bear with me.
Your joy list is your go-to list for moments of despair, sadness, stress.It’s a list with things that bring you joy. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to buy a new Gucci bag or a new Mercedes SUV to feel joy. Joy can be found in those little moments when we take some time for ourselves. Those activities and things that are on your list differ from person to person. It can be brewing a cup of your favorite tea, or taking a bath. Make it a long and flexible list so that you find something you can do immediately or in a very short time. This list can be also saved on your computer or mobile device so that you can conveniently access it. Try it out and really force yourself to do it. Your mental health will thank you later.
- Create Connections
When was the last time that you connected with someone? Not in a platonic way, but really connected. Over a topic that you feel passionate about, an activity that you enjoy doing, or some bigger questions of life? As human beings we need to connect, we’re not meant to live on our own and that’s why it’s crucial, also for your mental fitness, to train your relationship muscle . Some people do this naturally, some people might be too shy or don’t want to expose themselves, and some people consider themselves introverts and enjoy their own company the most. However, even the most hardcore introvert needs some social interaction to get out of his/her mind and into reality. It also prevents us from getting too comfortable with negative thoughts and brings some light and color into everyday life.
- Take That “Green Pill”
It’s not red, it’s not blue, it’s green! And the best part about it? It’s free. Don’t know what I’m talking about? It’s nature! And don’t tell me that there’s no park or green space close to where you live (no excuses!). If you take at least a 20-minute walk per day surrounded by some greenery, your stress hormone levels will decrease. You’ll find more information about the results of the study published in Frontiers in Psychology here. Hopefully, you know what you have to do now: take the green pill, commune with nature and celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month.