This is a guest post from the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition and Romanda Simpson.
Some may have heard that October 10th was Mental Health Awareness Day, but it’s more than likely that most didn’t hear anything about it at all. With so many “days” for this and that it can be hard to keep up, and let’s face it, our society hasn’t historically put much importance on mental health. But, more than half of people will experience a mental health illness, and it can be argued that all would have experienced a mental health challenge. Your mental health IS important to think about because it impacts all aspects of your life: physical (illness and energy), emotional (outlook on life), social (work and relationships) – basically your ability to live, laugh and love.
The transition into the winter months brings various things that can challenge our mental health. Dreary and dark days, cold temperatures, and the holiday season (yes, holidays are a very stressful time!). Add on to this the fact that your physical health can be dramatically impacted by the stressors of our everyday life and you’ve got a recipe for a challenging time! So, what can we do? Choosing even one of the following can have a positive impact on your mental health… why not try one today?
1. Do something you’re good at
When life gets busy, stressful, or even boring doing something you are good at can bring confidence, calmness, and excitement back into your life. Think about what you love doing. What activities do you lose yourself in (you know when you don’t realize that hours have past)? Bring those back into your life – they will bring energy and self-esteem.
2. Do something for someone else
Research has shown that helping others increases mental wellbeing and being a longtime volunteer, I would agree. From something as simple as letting a person in front in traffic, to something more time-involved like baking a cake for a neighbor, do something for someone to reap the mental benefits. Not only will you positively impact someone else’s life, you’ll bring positivity to yours too!
3. Recharge yourself.
This looks different for everyone. Although I am a social person my recharging occurs with alone time, often reading a book, going for a walk, or doing crafts. I must literally carve out and commit to this “me time”, because all the other things pulling at me will just take over if I let it. But that me time is important for me to bring my full self to the rest of life. Make your own “me time” a priority. Find what helps recharge you. It could be quiet, or it could be active. It could be on your own, or it could be with others. Once you know what it is, commit to carving out the time each week, or even each day if you can, and you’ll feel better for it.
This is one of the most regularly touted ways we can support our mental health, and it’s true. Exercise, even a little, dramatically impacts our physical and mental wellbeing. This doesn’t have to be a huge workout. Find something that moves you. Do 10 jumping jacks. Take a stretch break at work every few hours. Walk for 10 or more minutes (30 is GREAT!). Even though it’s rainy outside, we live in Ketchikan and don’t let the rain scare us, do we?
It can be oh so hard when there are a million things on your mind but getting a good nights sleep is very important for your mental wellbeing. I know I feel much better after a full nights sleep (for me that varies from 7 hours to 10 hours a night, depending on how much brain power I’ve used and how much physical activity I’ve done). Try committing to go to bed at the same time and wake up the same time for one week that will get you the full recommended 8 hours. See how that makes you feel and then try another week.
Healthy Minds is a monthly column coordinated by Ketchikan Wellness Coalition as a way to share positive stories from people living with mental illness, offer information from local mental health professionals about maintaining mental health in your life, and provide details on tangible activities or actions you can take to strengthen your mental wellness. If you would like to contribute to the column, please contact Romanda Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org