May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, which means we’re focusing on our mental health and how we can maintain it. Show your brain some love this month with these five tips:
Prioritize social connection
A 2017 study on the power of social connected concluded that:
“From the current body of medical research, it is evident that social connection has substantial impacts in many categories of health from weight management, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression. Some psychiatrists go so far as comparing social connection to vitamins: ‘just as we need vitamin C each day, we also need a dose of the human moment—positive contact with other people.’”
Social connection is undoubtedly an essential part of a healthy life. Take some time throughout your day to establish and maintain connections with others. This could mean sending a text to a friend to let them know you’re thinking of them or meeting someone for coffee. It can also be as simple as making an effort to smile at strangers that you pass on the street.
Find a routine
Finding a daily routine that works well for you can be a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety, even if you have a busy schedule. Creating predictable moments throughout a chaotic day allows you to have some stability and regularity by eliminating the number of decisions that you need to make.
Routines can mean taking a walk or hitting the gym in the morning or preparing your lunch the night before. It could mean setting up a recurring appointment on your calendar to clean your house or choosing a consistent day of the week to tackle the mountain of laundry.
But remember to be easy on yourself when it comes to building these routines. According to WebMD, “…failing to follow your routine for one day doesn’t mean you’re off-track. If you let yourself take a day off, it can be easier to return to your routine than if you think of any break in your routine as a failure.”
Get moving and fuel your body
Diet and exercise are the most common pieces of advice that we receive when trying to make a change. It may seem simple, but often the simplest advice is the most effective. A whole-foods diet that is low in sugar and rich in healthy fats can do wonders for your mental health, as well as more consistent movement.
But you don’t need to hit the gym five days a week for an hour to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, HelpGuide suggests, “Even modest amounts of physical activity can make a big difference to your mental and emotional health—and it’s something you can engage in right now to boost your energy and outlook and help you regain a sense of control.”
According to HelpGuide, “In biological terms, finding meaning and purpose is essential to brain health as it can help generate new cells and create new neural pathways in the brain. It can also strengthen your immune system, alleviate pain, relieve stress, and keep you motivated to pursue the other steps to improve mental and emotional health.”
You can find purpose in your life in a number of different ways including through your work, through offering your time to volunteer, caring for a pet, practicing gratitude, exploring your spirituality, and more.
Ask for help when you need it
Of course, if you’re struggling with your mental health despite consistent efforts, it may be time to speak with a qualified professional.
If you have health insurance with an employer, many offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that are designed to help address a complex and broad body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as stress, alcohol and other substance abuse, family problems, grief, and psychological disorders. If you are interested in offering an EAP to your employees, contact your ARC Benefit Solutions representative today!