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Tuesday, Oct. 10, is World Mental Health Day, and this year’s theme is, “Mental health is a universal human right.”
World Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to organize efforts that support mental health, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
One in eight people globally live with mental health conditions, and an increasing number of adolescents and young people are affected, according to WHO.
Below are some tips to keep your mental health in check.
Ask for help
Mental health professionals can offer invaluable guidance and support. And know that your therapists are taking care of themselves, too.
“I’ve found that when therapists, including myself, aren’t practicing an adequate amount of self-care, we are unable to give 100% to our clients. I always tell my team, ‘Secure your oxygen mask before helping someone else.’ It really resonates with me and explains the importance of our own self-care,” Tara Levine, Clinical Supervisor at a South Florida Substance Abuse treatment facility, told The Post.
Self-care has been clinically proven to alleviate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, improve concentration, minimize frustration and anger, increase happiness and improve energy, according to Southern New Hampshire University. The practice of self-care also has physical benefits such as reducing heart disease, stroke and cancer.
“Remember that self-care is all about you. What works for one person may not work for another, but that’s the beauty of a self-care routine,” Dr. Matthew Glowiak, a clinical faculty member at SNHU, said.
It’s important to figure out what makes you feel relaxed. Put aside time to practice your form of self-care — schedule it and put it in your calendar as if it’s an appointment, decide how many times a week and what activity you’ll do.
“There’s an inevitable correlation between stress and self-care,” Fred Helou, CEO of Vagaro, said in a press release. “Many people get so caught up in day-to-day responsibilities that they don’t prioritize time to take care of themselves, however, placing importance on activities that encourage relaxation can make you better equipped physically, mentally and emotionally to face life’s daily stressors.”
Connect with others
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that talking to others about your mental illness and struggles can reduce stress levels and boost mood.
However, talking about your personal mental illness can be tricky. Only you are an expert on your mental health, so you can make your decisions on who to tell and when based on how supportive and trustful the person is.
Even actress and singer Selena Gomez believes connecting with others has made the most positive impact on her mental health.
“When I decided to be open about my mental health, people began to reach out and share their stories. Listening and connecting was the biggest gift because you feel less alone,” Wondermind’s co-founder and Chief Impact Officer said in an interview.
Gomez added, “Find a friend or a family member you feel comfortable talking with and open up about what you are feeling. It’s very freeing to open up to someone. There is so much strength in being vulnerable.”
Stay active and get outside
Work out daily, even if it’s just a walk. You can also just sit outside to get some fresh air and enjoy the sun or the night sky.
Research has proven that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being, according to Mental Health America.
MHA added that 15 minutes of sunshine per day can do wonders, since sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, and is believed to be a mood booster.
Sleep has a huge impact on our bodies, minds and ability to deal with life.
Adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep, and MHA suggests sleeping in cooler temperatures, adding that the optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees.
If you have trouble with sleeping, the Mental Health Foundation suggests having a bedtime routine to help you wind down, limiting screen time, avoiding rigorous exercise before bed, and going to bed and waking up at the same time every day — even on weekends.
What we eat and drink affects our bodies, and therefore our mental health.
Sugary foods and drinks or caffeine often give a temporary “high” that gives a sense of comfort, but they inevitably leave people feeling jittery and/or slumped, the Mental Health Foundation said.
Make an impact
A 2019 study showed that people who performed kindness activities for seven days saw a boost in happiness. Acts of kindness can increase dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin levels, all three of which have an impact on mood and happiness.
“Giving back to society is not a purely altruistic concept — we feel better by giving or being kind, therefore the act benefits both parties,” Meghan Marcum, PsyD, chief psychologist at A Mission for Michael, a mental and behavioral health treatment center in Southern California, told VeryWell Mind.
Destigmatizing mental health is also a good way to make an impact on both yourself and others. One way people are doing that is by making and wearing mental-health-themed merch. The brand Killer and a Sweet Thang sells sweatshirts that say “Zoloft” and “Prozac.”
Some merch even provides advice — to yourself and to whoever is standing behind you and reading the back of your sweatshirt. Wondermind and Self-Care For Everyone created a “check-in hoodie” designed to spark conversation.
And you can kill two birds with one stone, as many self-care merchandise retailers often donate the profits to mental health organizations.