May is Mental Health Awareness Month

mental health awareness month

People all across the world struggle with maintaining positive mental health. In the US alone, 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 4 teens deal with anxiety, depression and/or excessive stress.

In recent years, society has taken it upon itself to combat the mental health stigma, and so far it has been successful. Whether it is celebrities or public figures opening up about their own struggles or its recent portrayal in movies, tv shows, books, and music; society has finally begun to show that good mental health is something that everyone deals with on different levels and that it is important to reach out and get help no matter the severity.

There are several ways to improve your long term mental health, as well as your day to day mood. Often it is the small things you don’t think about that can leave you with feelings of being overwhelmed or down. Some ways to combat those day to day feeling are maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, eating a healthy balanced diet, monitoring your daily media intake, and keeping busy whether with physical activity or personal hobbies.

Sleep habits can have drastic impacts on your mood. Getting a good night’s sleep, between 7 and 8 hours, can set the tone for your whole day. Often times a lack of sleep can contribute to feelings of anxiety or stress by making it difficult to focus. It is very common for a person’s mood to be affected by their diet.

Eating the correct amount of fruits and vegetables, 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables per day, can leave you feeling refreshed, happy, and not result in a bloated, lethargic feeling. Along with fruit and veggies, making sure that the correct amount protein is represented in your diet is equally, if not more, important. Proteins are the building blocks for your body. The neurotransmitters in your brain are primarily made of amino acids (the monomer, or building blocks, of proteins). When your diet does not provide enough protein to support the neurotransmitters it changes the way they process and can cause them to deliver lower levels of dopamine and serotonin (mood affecting chemicals).

Keeping busy and staying active are essential to improving your mood and mental health. Physical exercise promotes the release of endorphins in the brain as well as other positive chemicals. These mood boosting chemicals can drastically improve your mood and over time can even lessen the symptoms of mental illnesses such as chronic depression and severe anxiety.

Finally, learning to monitor and filter your daily media intake is an important skill to develop when working to improve your mental health. Constant negativity, bad influences, and a never ending surplus of other people to compare yourself to can negatively affect your short term mood, later leading to larger impacts on your long term mental health. Only allowing for a focus on positive and appropriate forms of media will greatly impact your mood and your view of the world.

No matter what you are struggling with it is important to realize that you are not alone. Countless people across the world struggle from different forms of mental illness every day.

**Remember is it important to talk to talk with your provider before starting a new diet and/or exercise routine. 

Courtesy of Lily Hancock

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