CHILLICOTHE— May is Mental Health Awareness Month and is a time when it is recommended to examine yourself and your mental health. Several things, both genetically and environmentally, can impact a person’s mental health throughout life in either a positive or negative manner. Local therapists have collected several tips and tricks that can help people increase their mental health this month.
Learn about mental health
Before bettering your mental health Lesha Malone from Whole Life Counseling said it is important to understand what mental health is and what it encompasses biologically, socially, psychologically and spiritually. She said that often people will focus on one aspect of mental health but not the others, which eventually leads to another decline. She said it is important to focus on all aspects of mental health in order to make a difference.
Dr. Cathy McDaniels Wilson from the Adena Counseling Center also recommends learning about what mental health issues are. She said often people have an idea in their head about what depression or anxiety is and it is completely wrong as symptoms show differently in everyone.
During the summer going outside can be easier as temperatures rise and the sun stays out later. Esther Campbell from Mares Cares Counseling said that going outside more often and enjoying nature can help those who have seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression, increase their mental state.
Find a hobby
Having a hobby gives you something to do outside of your daily routine that makes you happy. Hobbies can be a variety of things depending on the person. Patricia Mares, from Mares Cares Counseling, said that having a hobby can help keep the mind busy and away from negative thoughts.
Give your body the nutrients it needs
Getting enough nutrition and enough sleep is a great way to make sure your brain is functioning best. Malone said she can feel the difference in her attitude when she has taken care of herself. Getting enough nutrition and sleep allows the body and the brain to operate on a higher level.
Wilson said that exercising can also help increase mental and physical health. When exercising the body releases hormones that can be found in many common antidepressants. Exercising can be anything from taking a hike to working out in a gym, it all depends on the person and what they enjoy.
Take breaks from social media
The Rev. Jessica Warth from Mares Cares Counseling said sometimes it is important to take a break from social media when one’s mental health is low. While it is a great way to stay informed and connected social media often pushes out a false narrative that everyone else is living a perfect life, which can harm a person’s mental health if they are not living up to unrealistic standards.
Think positive thoughts
Negative thoughts can consume the mind, making it harder for people to see positive things in life. This is why Mares recommends that her patients think of at least one positive thought each day, it can be something you are proud of or something that made you happy. This simple solution is an easy way to remember that the world is not all bad.
Take time for yourself
People block out time throughout the day for work, family and other activities they find important but Wilson said people sometimes forget to block off time for themselves. Taking time to be with yourself doing something you enjoy gives people a chance to reflect on life and what brings them joy. Prioritizing taking time for yourself also helps ensure that a person does not overextend themselves in other aspects of life.
Reach out for help
While tips and tricks help manage one’s mental health, sometimes it is not possible to combat negativity alone. According to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness every year but only half receive treatment. Reaching out for help can include talking to friends and family or contacting a doctor.
Some people may think that asking for help is a sign of weakness but Wilson said it is the exact opposite, reaching out is a sign of courage and can make a big impact in a person’s life.
Shelby Reeves is a reporter for the Chillicothe Gazette. You can email her at SReeves@gannett.com or follow her on Twitter @Shelby_Reeves_
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