By: Taylor Schechter – Health, Safety & Environmental Manager
Every year in May we recognize the millions of individuals who experience a mental illness. This year, it is more important than ever to take care of our mental health due to the uncertainty and worry that is caused by the Coronavirus. RFI is highlighting #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles, support those who are struggling, and work towards a path of recovery.
1 in 5 people experience a mental illness during their lifetime, but everyone faces challenges in life that can negatively impact their mental health. If you find that you are struggling with your mental health, there are practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency regardless of the situation you are dealing with.
Living a healthy lifestyle and incorporating mental health tools to thrive may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.
Tips for Positive Mental Health Success
Allow Yourself to Feel, Don’t Ignore it
Stigma and societal pressures often encourage people to shut down and bottle up their emotions. Statements such as “Big girls done cry” and “Man up” are harmful. Everyone has emotions and everyone has the right to feel and express them. Don’t push aside your feelings without addressing them.
Talk it Out, Don’t be Afraid to Get Help
Find someone you can trust to talk to about how you’re feeling. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone in your life, see a mental health professional. Counselors and therapists are trained to help you. Some free or low-cost options are available. Your employer may even have an Employee Assistance Program that offers a limited number of free counseling sessions.
Do What Makes You Happy
Set aside some time to do something you find fun or relaxing. Treating yourself with your favorite activities can help you remember how to feel good after dealing with a negative situation and bring you back to a place where you can appreciate some positive things life has to offer. This can include hobbies such as cooking, baking, painting, sports, etc. Or outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, bike riding, nature walks, spending time with friends. Getting yourself out of a rut and distracting yourself with your favorite activities, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day, it will have a positive impact on your mental health.
Create a Routine that is Right for You
A healthy routine should include eating a nutrient rich diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep. Pick one small thing a week to work on, it could be adding something new and positive or cutting out a bad habit. Small routine changes add up. By doing things like prepping meals ahead of time, picking out an outfit the night before, or having a set time to do errands can help you set yourself up for success.
Focus on What You Can Control
Your anxiety may be coming from concerns or worries, remember that your concerns are valid. It is okay to feel the way you do, especially in times like a pandemic. Help yourself reduce your anxiety by focusing on what you can control and things that provide you comfort.
- Practice self-care at home through relaxation or meditation methods.
- Organize or clean your immediate environment; your bedroom, closet, kitchen, etc. now is the time to clean and get organized.
- Don’t overdo your news and information intake. Get information from credible source like the CDC or WHO.
- Follow CDC guidelines on social distancing, staying at home, and personal hygiene.
One step towards beating the mental health stigma is to talk about it. Let your friends, family, coworkers, etc. know that you are there to listen and that their feelings are valid. Don’t judge what they are telling you, ask what you can do to help, offer to be there for them, and know when more serious help is needed. Sometimes the support you can offer won’t be enough. Don’t be afraid to encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional.
There are many tools and resources that can help you improve your mental health. It is important to look forward and focus on what we need to do to thrive in uncertain times.