May is Mental Health Awareness month. This month, we should stop and reflect on our mental health and feel no shame in doing so. The purpose of Mental Health Awareness month is to not only educate but get rid of the stigma associated with mental health.
So what is mental wellness?
Mental wellness doesn’t have a specific definition, but it can be described as a healthy resource that helps us function throughout our daily lives—feeling stressed? Try meditation or a nice calming walk outside. Anxious about an upcoming event? Talking to a friend or doing some breathing exercises may calm your nerves. You may have been using your mental wellness tools all along without even realizing it.
Where should we be aware of mental wellness?
Well, quite simply, anywhere and everywhere. Developing healthy mental wellness tools in your repertoire will have you ready for almost any situation that comes your way. Here are some examples of situations mental wellness will come in handy:
Children most definitely need to know mental wellness and develop coping strategies. Taking tests, public speaking, making friends, being in a new place away from family; all of these things happen daily to students, and how they handle them will show where they are resilient and where they may need a little extra help. Open the door to discussion with your student. Or, if you are a student yourself, make an appointment to see a counselor to discuss your concerns.
Yes, even our home-sweet-home can cause us some mental fatigue. Sometimes, we even need a break from being in a place that is supposed to be our comfort zone. This last year has probably given us all a little bit of cabin fever. A change of scenery may be in your cards. Going for a walk, giving your friend a call, or even planning a mini-vacation may be what you need to provide yourself with a refreshing break from being home.
Who would have thought being surrounded by our friends and family can be a little overwhelming at times? It is 100% OK to say no to uncomfortable situations. However, there are also times when we may have to deal with them. Find ways to keep your mind occupied to help keep moving forward. Take deep breaths and reward yourself after getting through it. These techniques will help you look forward to something after it’s all over.
Work stress is a big one for most people. The fear of backlash is real, but rest assured that many companies have started to invest heavily in mental health care and mental wellness for their employees. Employers understand the importance of happy, healthy employees. Things like “mental health days” are becoming more common because there has been so much research on the fantastic benefits of taking some personal time to unwind and getting some inward focus has on the mind.
What you should do right now
Please take note of all the things you do to mentally unwind, whether it be healthy habits or less than healthy habits. All of these are your mental wellness tools, and some of them are better than others. Find the ones that need some work and slowly start substituting in better habits. Push yourself a little each day to commit to focusing on a healthier you, both physically and mentally. There is never any shame in discussing and maintaining your mental wellness.