Many of us are experiencing an increased mental and emotional load associated with the global pandemic and quarantine.  May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We thought it would be helpful to provide you with a few easy ways to prioritize your mental health during this time.  There are many ways to keep yourself healthy but adopting a few simple practices can ensure that you feel your best, even when we are experiencing a collective crisis.

3 Practices to Prioritize Your Mental Health

  1. Whether you prefer sitting quietly in contemplation or a more formal meditation experience, adopting a meditation practice can have a positive effect on both your mental and physical health.  Meditation can help to improve sleep, reduce stress, and enhance your self-awareness.  If you are a beginner, there are apps as well as Web sites and books to help you get started.  If you are already a meditator, make sure that you continue a consistent home practice during the quarantine.  Even just a few minutes of stillness and quiet a day can help you to feel balanced and grounded in the present moment.
  2. Physical Movement. Moving, especially outdoors, is critical in keeping a healthy body and mind.  It has even been proven that physical activity is effective in treating mild to moderate depression (Better Health).  If you enjoy the movement you are doing, it can be even more effective in boosting your mood or emotional state.  Not only does movement reduce the effects of stress on your brain, but it can also increase energy levels, help you to get a better night’s sleep, and flood your body with endorphins, or nature’s mood enhancers.  Next time you feel the quarantine exhaustion creeping in, meet up with a friend for a safe-distance-walk at Riley Park or in a favorite neighborhood!
  3. Balanced Diet. Eating a whole foods diet abundant in vitamins and minerals can improve mood as well as the overall functioning of your body.  Serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and appetite, is almost solely produced in your digestive tract (Harvard Health).  Therefore, by eating a diet low in inflammatory foods like sugar, processed snack foods, and soda, you can have a truly positive impact on your neurological functioning.  Try switching out one meal a day in place of a healthy, fresh meal packed with veggies, lean meat, fruits, legumes, and/or whole grains and see how you feel!

Let’s honor Mental Health Awareness Month by prioritizing our own mental health, so that we can show up for our families and communities.  As always, remember that if you suffer from a mental illness, you are not alone, and any small step you take towards a better future for yourself can be considered a victory.  Our Greenfield Community will make it through this crisis, one healthy choice at a time!

Mental Health Resources

If you are especially concerned about yourself or a loved one and mental health right now, here are some resources that can help.