May is Mental Health Awareness month
May 11, 2023
According to a report by Mental Health America, 21% of adults (nearly 50 million Americans) are experiencing a mental illness and over 28 million of those individuals received no treatment. It is vitally important to talk about mental health issues, as stigma is often a barrier to treatment. Mental Health America, the National Alliance for Mental Illness, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are just a few of the national organizations bringing awareness to mental health.
Even though there are millions struggling with mental health issues, there are some behaviors and activities that can be incorporated into a routine to help improve mental health. Here are some mental wellness tips:
Tip 1: Develop a routine gratitude practice. There is a plethora of research to support gratitude practices. Studies have shown that it increases positive emotions, helps develop resiliency to adversity, builds strong relationships, and even improves physical health. Gratitude practices can be a variety of activities, but what is important is to WRITE IT OUT; this helps make all sorts of magical connections in your brain.
Tip 2: Spending time in nature. Again, there are multiple recent research studies that demonstrate being outside benefits mental health. One study even found that hearing and seeing birds significantly lowered scores on a depression screening tool. This doesn’t require spending hours hiking, camping, or birdwatching. Studies show that even 10 minutes outside improves mental wellbeing, so take a few minutes on lunch breaks or in the morning to soak up some sun.
Tip 3: Physical touch helps increase the endorphin oxytocin. Studies have proven that consensual physical affection helps release a feel-good chemical in the brain, which boosts happiness. Some research has been done to show that even petting a dog releases oxytocin in both the human’s and the dog’s brains. Take the time to give a hug, hold a hand, or pet a dog for a little pick-me-up.