While May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949, the importance of taking steps to preserve and support your mental health has become even more prevalent in recent years, especially as athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles have prioritized their mental health over pushing themselves to perform. Indeed, everyone needs to take care of their minds just as diligently as they take care of their bodies. So in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re sharing five steps you can take in your daily life to make you happier, more confident, and less stressed.
Prioritize Your Sleep
The more sleep you get, the better your body functions and the healthier you feel both physically and mentally. For example, while sleeping, the brain rests, repairs, and revitalizes itself to prepare for the following day. Getting enough sleep, which means shooting for seven to nine hours per night, also helps your brain cement everything it learned and experienced the previous day, improving memory and emotional regulation.
Try Out Mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness, or trying to get into a state of awareness in which you are fully present and experiencing your senses and emotions without judgment, has been proven in recent years to be the practice for improving mental health. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and improve emotional control and regulation, focus, and memory. While meditation is one of the best practices for cultivating mindfulness (and you can improve your practice with apps like Calm or Headspace), you can also work on being fully present in small moments during your day, like when you’re doing the dishes.
Set Small Goals
Lengthy to-do lists full of work, chores, and other responsibilities can be incredibly stress-inducing—especially when they feel like they’re never going to end. So even if you don’t have an end in sight, try to set small goals and reward yourself for meeting them. This will help improve your self-confidence and combat procrastination while also helping you build motivation and momentum to keep tackling your list.
Start with A Warm Sip
Many people start their day with a cup of coffee or a steaming mug of tea, which is very smart when supporting your mental health. Drinking something hot essentially kickstarts your metabolism, letting your body know it’s time to attack the day. Meanwhile, both coffee and tea have improved focus and relieved depressive symptoms while providing an instant mood boost.
Spend Time with Friends and Loved Ones
Grabbing lunch with a friend, attending a group fitness class together, or even sitting next to a loved one on the couch to watch a movie is also known to improve your mental health. Fostering these emotional connections has been found to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness while boosting happiness and self-esteem. You don’t have to be a social butterfly to get the perks either, as long as you regularly carve out some social time.
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