Did you know that May is mental health awareness month? Since 1949, mental health professionals and mental health organizations have attempted to increase awareness about the importance of prioritizing mental health during the month of May. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing your mental health is even more important.
There are many benefits of prioritizing mental health; the most commonly known are:
- Improved self-esteem and self-efficacy
- Increased energy
- Reduced depression and/or anxiety
- Greater ability to manage emotions
- Improved mental clarity
- Healthier relationships
And just like a healthy body is better able to prevent physical illness, a healthy mind is better able to stay “mentally healthy.” Mentally healthy people tend to be more gracious, goal- and purpose-driven, balanced, social, mindful and, most importantly, resilient.
So how do you become “mentally healthy?”
- Wake up with a sense of gratitude. Start your day with a grateful attitude. Think about what you are thankful for in your life and say out loud or in your mind, “Thank you for…”
- Set small goals that you can achieve every day and big goals that you can work towards. Keep small goals simple, realistic and achievable. Big goals should motivate you and ultimately lead you to your purpose.
Side note: Not sure what your purpose is? Think about what you naturally and instinctively do well and what you have learned from past experiences. Now ask yourself, ‘how can I use who I am and what I have learned to help others?’ Within that answer lies your purpose.
Avoid extremes. Too much of anything is simply TOO MUCH! Develop a daily routine that allows sufficient time for a balance between peace, work, fun, relationships and relaxation.
Be social. We are not meant to live alone. Especially while social distancing, it is extremely important to stay connected to others — friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors, etc. Communicate virtually as much as possible and gather together safely. You can be mindful of distance without being distant and isolated.
Be mindful. A mentally healthy person knows that there is a consequence to every decision and every action. Be mindful of your decisions and your actions. Every decision you make and every action you take will ultimately lead you to a desired or undesired end.
Become resilient. When challenges come your way, move into action. Challenges are like rocks that roll your way; the resilient person makes the decision as the rock rolls towards them — they are not going to just stand there and get rolled over. They immediately implement a plan of action to deal with the rock. They may start pushing the rock alone or even gather others to help. Either way, they decide to control the direction of the roll. The rock does not go away, but the resilient person uses their strength and even their resources to effectively deal with it.
As we all try to navigate through this incredibly challenging time, it is important to remember that both your body and your mind need to be healthy to deal with challenges now and on the road ahead. As fitness professionals, we can model for our clients not only ways to be physically healthy but mentally healthy as well.