Happy May! I hope you are enjoying this wonderful spring weather we have been experiencing; the weekend if quickly approaching....and it's bringing rain! As in life, we can have days of sunshine and rainbows followed by clouds and rain. I want to take a moment to reflect on May being National Mental Awareness Month and tips on how we can all get through those dark days and even learn to have them not effect us as much.
1. Schedule Regular Massages
Of course this will be my number one tip! Studies have shown that regular massages decrease anxiety, depression and stress-related ailments such as headaches, digestive problems and insomnia. Massage is now being recognized as medically necessary and many health insurance companies offer reimbursement.
MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain's “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. This primal region of the brain is associated with fear and emotion and is involved in the initiation of the body's response to stress. Just 5 minutes a day will help you retrain your brain and become less reactive to stressors. My favorite free guided meditations are on the Honest Guys Youtube page.
Just like massage, stretching is very important for flexibility, range of motion and injury prevention. If you don't have time for a full yoga class just a few minutes a day can decrease your pain, increase blood circulation and boost your energy levels. Here is a 4 minute routine you can do at your desk.
4. Get outside
Spending just 15 minutes a day in nature can boost focus, ease anxiety, and more. The mental health benefits of exercise are well documented—it's known to reduce stress and increase levels of “feel good” hormones like dopamine; many of us overlook the perks of simply spending time outdoors. Just a walk around the block can turn your day around. Walk with a friend and get tip number 5 done at the same time.
5. Talk to someone
Talking is like a pressure valve for your head. Have a trusted friend or family member that you can confide in about what's going on in your life. The act of communication can help clarify your thoughts and feelings and cut them down to size. A neutral party, such as a counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist, can give insight in to what's bothering you and strategies on how to deal with it.
These are just a few tips on mental health self-care. It's important to find what works for you and stick with it. Just a few minutes a day of something is enough to make a difference.