May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is something that everyone deals with, whether it be positive, negative, or both.
Mental health has been defined by the CDC as “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” It also “affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how well we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices,” said the CDC.
In recent times, mental health has been something more widely acknowledged and recognized than in times past. However, there are still lots of things that people aren’t aware of as they related to mental health and mental illness. Most importantly, many people don’t know what steps to take to maintain positive mental health.
Everyone throws “therapy” and “medication” into the conversation of creating positive mental health when there are much smaller, more manageable things that can be done to improve your mental health.
*Getting enough sleep
Have you ever noticed that when you don’t get enough sleep, your mood is off? According to the Sleep Foundation, “brain activity during sleep has profound effects on emotional and mental health.” Getting a sufficient amount of sleep, 10 hours for those ages 14 to 17 and seven to nine for ages 18 to 25, is an important part of maintaining mental health and mood.
Establishing boundaries means understanding what you will and won’t tolerate from others and even yourself. By expressing what your boundaries are, people are presented with the option of respecting them or ignoring them. If you see your boundaries being disregarded, regardless of how big or small they may be, you should reflect and ask yourself if it’s worth continuing to deal with a situation.
Exercising and staying active releases endorphins that improve mood. According to Better Health, “people who exercise regularly have better mental health and emotional wellbeing, and lower rates of mental illness.” This may not be something to eliminate your mental health issues completely but it’s something that can make them more manageable.
*Being kinder to yourself
Practicing self-love and not being so hard on yourself is a way to improve mental health. Regardless of the internal and external obstacles that we face, it’s still important to be kind to yourself.
*Allowing yourself to take breaks
As busy as life can get, it’s necessary to give yourself a break sometimes. According to the American Psychological Association, “breaks can improve our moods, overall well-being and performance capacity.”
Hopefully, these tips will bring some relief and positivity into your life. Remember to always tend to your mental health, whether that means taking time to yourself or asking others for help.
By Cierra Lemott, Junior, Columbia College Chicago
Instagram: @cece.kodak / @kodakscamera