Mental Health Month 2023 – Look Around
May is mental health month and Mental Health America’s (MHA) focus this year is “look around and look within” for ways to improve and boost your mental health. Look around brings focus on the areas of home, community, and nature and how they affect your mental health. Looking within focuses on self-awareness, overall wellness, and self-care. This article will provide a brief overview on the factors of home community and nature.
Factors like where you live, work, obtain education, and spend time along with who you spend time with are called “social determinants of health” (SDOH). These SDOH can play a role in positively or negatively affecting your mental health. While not all SDOH factors are within your control some can be changed. Below are some suggestions for changes you may be able to make to your SDOH to support better mental health.
Safe and stable housing. Make it a goal to obtain safe and stable housing. If you have financial difficulties reach out to state/local agencies to see if they can assist you with obtaining secure housing, securing your existing home, helping to removing safety hazards, provide mobility remedies etc.
Make your home a calm and inviting space. Reducing clutter has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety along with promoting better focus. Only add to your space items that you really love and that make you feel calm and happy. Keep curtains open to bring in natural light and brighten your space. Live plants can help with air quality and bring natural elements to your space. Small things like adding a table top fountain can produce a calming effect. Make your bedroom a calm, sleep friendly space. Make your home a place you enjoy spending time.
Make connections with neighbors & your community. A sense of belonging and connection within your community supports good mental health. So, get to know people in your neighborhood. You don’t have to host a neighborhood cook out but make small connections with your neighbors and those in your community. Just saying hello and chatting with your neighbor for a few minutes can create a connection. Want to get more involved? We have many local non-profits in need of volunteers such as: FROM, Lowell Community Wellness, Gilda’s Club, Lowell Showboat Garden Club, North Country Trail Association and many more. A list can be found online at: https://discoverlowell.chambermaster.com/list/category/non-profit-groups-12?o=&dm=True There are so many ways to be part of and to support the community like taking classes and shopping locally.
Get outside. Fresh air and sunshine supports good mental health. Lowell has so much natural beauty from the rivers to woods. Go for a walk, a bike ride, or a hike. Go swimming or kayaking. Go sit on your porch or patio and people or critter watch.
Focusing on improvement in any or preferably all of these areas can improve your mental health. If you are still struggling after making some of the above changes it may be time to seek help from a professional mental health counselor. I hope you find this information helpful but it is for informational purposes only. Stay healthy!
Melissa Spino MA LPC CDMS
Life Transitions Therapy LLC Founder and Therapist