Mental Health Month 2023 – Look Within
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 within” focuses on self-awareness, overall wellness, and self-care. This article will provide a brief overview about some of these factors.
Ways to Look Within
Self-Care is essential for our overall well-being. Yet, it’s typically last on our list and often gets bumped completely when we get busy. Self-care is the act of caring for our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Knowing how to reduce stress, eat right, exercise, and enjoy down time helps our overall health and plays a role in being content and happy. Below are some suggestions to get you started.
Most of us know the basics but just as a reminder they are: getting good restorative sleep, reducing stress, exercising regularly, and healthy eating. If you’re not sure where to start below are some suggestions.
· Learn to say no. If you are already stressed learn to say “no, thank you.” Saying yes when you are overly stressed can lead to anxiety, anger, burnout, resentment and/or you shutting down due to feeling overwhelmed.
· Get organized. Over the past 20+ years they have been studying the effects of clutter. Clutter can increase stress and anxiety because when we have problems finding things, we are less productive and have a harder time focusing. So, cut the clutter and get organized so you can find things easier and reduce stress. There are many books and blogs about getting organized. One of my favorites is “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.
· Get outside. Being outdoors has been show to help reduce fatigue, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and can help you get a better night sleep.
· Find a hobby. Spend time on a hobby you love. Lose yourself in it. Whether it is art, gardening, kayaking, hiking, reading, etc.…make sure it is something that feeds your soul.
· Spend time with friends and family. Be sure it’s with those that you have fun with and not ones that are demanding of your time, drain your energy, or bring you down.
· Practice mindfulness. Focusing too much on the past often leads to emotions of sadness, depression, and even anger. Focusing on the future for many produces feelings of anxiety and stress. Happiness and contentment are found in the present so practice mindfulness.
· Pamper yourself. Take a spa day or a long soak in the tub. Get a massage, take a country drive, or just relax and watch a movie. Even spending time alone in a quiet, peaceful location can help you destress.
· Schedule regular self-care. Schedule self-care several times a week. Work to increase this time to at least 15-minutes a day. Then guard that time as one of the most important things on your to do list. If you don’t, you may end up burned out and won’t be a help to anyone.
Embrace Supportive Self-Talk
Start by evaluating your thoughts. Listen to your self-talk/inner dialogue. Is it supportive or destructive? Has this been a lifelong pattern? You don’t have to figure out why you developed a toxic inner voice, thoughts, and emotions but knowing may make it easier to stop this harmful cycle. Either way, work to change this self-talk/inner voice to a more positive supportive one.
Free Mental Health Screening Resources
Screening is an easy way to “look within” and provide insight about possible mental health issues. These screening tools are helpful when you have concerns or suspect you may have a mental health issue.
They are all available for free. These tools are not an official diagnosis and should not be taken as professional advice. If you feel you have symptoms of a mental health problem, you can take the results of your screening to a licensed mental health professional for further evaluation.
· Mental Health America has several free screenings online for depression, PTSD, bipolar, anxiety, and eating disorders. For the full list of available screenings go to https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/
· Life Transitions Therapy has a quick free basic depression screening tool at the bottom of the page under “helpful documents”. It’s based off the DSM in a Word document for downloading. https://lifetransitionstherapy.biz/
· PsyCom has a 3 Minute Depression test. It can be found at https://www.psycom.net/depression-test
· Help Yourself Help Others is a site that offers an overall mental health screening tool. Go to: https://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/hyho
Positive improvements in any of the above mentioned areas can improve your mental health and overall wellness. There are many positive changes you can make on your own. However, if you are still struggling, you become stuck, or the changes are not working it may be time to get 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