Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Mental Health is increasingly talked about topic. One in five people suffers from mental illness. Our mental health is just as important to our well being as our physical health.
Having three boys obviously comes with some overwhelming day. I have to make sure to take time for myself so I can stay sane! Taking care of both my physical and mental health allows me to be the best for me and my boys.
Physical fitness, hobbies, environment, and relationships all play an important part in our wellbeing.
Physical Exercise & Fitness
Keeping a daily physical fitness routine is so important for both your body and mind. Exercise & fitness can help depression and anxiety because it is a scientifically proven mood booster that decreases symptoms of mental illnesses.
It also decreases stress which causes anxiety, overwhelmingness, and panic attacks. Some great stress decreasing exercises come along with practicing things like yoga and meditation.
Lastly, regular exercise and physical fitness routines can improve your sleep. This also assists in decreasing symptoms of common mental health issues such as depression, bipolar disease, and anxiety.
Studies have shown that those who partake in hobbies such as rock climbing, pilates, dance, writing or painting as well as several other types of activities. Are less likely to experience severe symptoms of mental health issues.
Music, in particular, is proven to lower stress. Help you connect better with the people around you and decrease elevating mental illness symptoms.
These activities build confidence because being good at something and learning something new is very rewarding. The hobbies that require some level of physical activity in particular, create chemical changes in our body that help reduce stress.
Overall learning something new or participating in something you love is guaranteed to be beneficial to your health!
The environment you surround yourself in has a huge impact on your mental health.
Whenever I have a messy room or the boys toys are everywhere and I have a million things to do, I know I begin to feel overwhelmed and at times a little sluggish and discouraged. Keeping a clean space is always a key factor in feeling better.
Additionally, the type of lighting you have is also an affecting factor. Using more soft yellow light rather than a harsh white light has also been proven to help boost your mood.
6 Simple Steps to Defusing Emotional Pain from Dr. Scott Symington, the author of Freedom from Anxious Thoughts and Feelings: A Two-Step Mindfulness Approach for Moving Beyond Fear and Worry:
Step 1 Take a deep breath, relax your muscles, and feel your feet on the ground.
Step 2 Remind yourself that thoughts and feelings come and go like a weather pattern passing through: I won’t always feel this way.
Step 3 Instead of fighting what you’re feeling, move into emotional acceptance, allowing the painful feeling to breathe. Say to yourself, I can live with this feeling right now.
Step 4 Describe out-loud or on paper what you’re feeling and the thoughts you’re having, almost as if you were taking on the role of an impartial commentator. Label the emotions and describe where and how you feel them in your body.
Step 5 Do a five-minute grounding exercise. First, listen to all the sounds in your environment for 1 to 2 minutes. Then pick out a visual anchor in your environment, something pleasing to the eye, such as a painting or picture, and study it visually for a couple of minutes. Next, notice how your body feels on the cushion or chair or run your hand under warm water noticing the sensations (1 to 2 minutes). Lastly, grab a spice or something that has a pleasing aroma. Study the smell for a minute or so. This process of grounding is highly effective in both bringing awareness into the present moment, which is incompatible with internal spinning, and decreasing emotional intensity.
Step 6 Participate in meaningful action. Instead of turning inward and focusing on how you’re feeling, place your attention and concern on someone else. Let yourself indulge in an act of kindness or if you pray, pray for someone you know is struggling. Take some action that reflects the best part of who you are.
Next time you find yourself emotionally overwhelmed or in a painful feeling state, implement the 6 steps you just reviewed. Especially with time and practice, you will notice that this approach reduces the power and presence of emotional pain in your life. You can’t always avoid the emotional challenges that come your way but you can develop a set of responses that protect your wellbeing and keep you fully engaged and present with life. Give it a try!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!