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Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month: 8 Simple Strategies for Prioritizing Your Well-Being

Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Well, it is!

Fact: MHA Month was established in 1949 by the National Association for Mental Health, now known as Mental Health America, and it was created to educate the public about mental illness, inform the public about research and treatments, reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness, and celebrate those recovering from mental illness. And so far, it’s made a great impact!

To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, we at Elite DNA would like to share eight simple strategies to help you prioritize your mental health every day.

Remember, these strategies shouldn’t replace seeking treatment when you’re facing bigger challenges. But they may help increase your sense of well-being between treatments, and they may even help improve the effectiveness of treatments.

With that said, here are eight simple strategies you can use every day to champion your own mental health.

You could benefit from expert guidance and support with your mental health. Find your nearest Elite DNA location and schedule an appointment today!

8 Simple Strategies for Prioritizing Your Well-Being

1. Make Self-Care a Priority

It may sound simple, but just mentally making your well-being a priority can make a big difference.

We have so many competing priorities every day – work, social obligations, family. It’s easy to forget to prioritize our own well-being. In fact, our well-being is often at the very bottom of our priority list – and it can definitely get neglected.

Here’s a quick exercise to consider:

  • Take a moment right now and mentally make a note to prioritize your own well-being. Now, think about when you have a few minutes in your schedule for self-care, and what you could do in that time. You might take a short walk, do a brief mindfulness exercise, or eat something new and healthy instead of something routine or fast.

Whatever you come up with, it doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Just doing something that’s focused on your own well-being will let your brain know this is a priority. And believe it or not, you may just start finding more opportunities to do so.

2. Get Quality Sleep

When we’re tired, we’re more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and depression. As such, make sure your body and mind get plenty of quality rest. Giving our bodies and minds time to relax and recover is one of the best ways to boost our well-being.

Additionally, it’s important to note that “catching up on sleep” doesn’t actually work.

To improve the quality of your sleep, try the following:

  • Minimize the light seeping into your bedroom.
  • Stop watching screens 30 minutes to an hour before your bedtime.
  • Try not to eat or drink too much water for at least two hours before bed. (Digestion takes energy, and using the bathroom in the middle of the night can interrupt your sleep cycles.)

You might also try a brief mindfulness exercise before turning out the lights – or have some ambient sleep sounds playing softly. There are many apps available that play rain sounds, forest sounds, ocean sounds, and more. Some people find that these help them get to sleep faster and sleep more deeply.

If possible, try leaving your phone in a different room from where you sleep. This will mitigate that urge to check messages as soon as you wake up.

Finally, try to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up routine.  Many studies show this leads to better sleep quality than having different routines for weekdays and weekends.

3. Practice Gratitude

When you start each day with a positive thought, it can often set the mood for the day and set the stage for a much richer life experience.

Even when going through difficult times, there are always things in our lives we can be grateful for. Is it having friends you trust? Or it could be just having a roof over your head? Maybe it’s not worrying about where your next meal will come from or that TV series that always makes you laugh. It could be things like having a job you enjoy or being in good physical health.

You might even find little things to be grateful for – like wearing your favorite outfit or meeting a friendly dog. Or maybe a nice message in your inbox that you weren’t expecting could brighten your day.

No matter what it is, it’s often simple and hiding in plain sight. And once you start looking, you’ll likely notice things you’re grateful for that you’ve never thought of before.

Here’s another quick exercise:

  • Take a minute or two to find those things. For each one, mentally say “I’m grateful for …” Then take a second after each one to notice how it feels to have it in your life.

The best part is, you can do this as you’re falling asleep, as you’re waking up, showering, or even during a short walk. It takes just a few minutes, but you’ll be surprised at how you feel afterward.

4. Move and Nourish Your Body

Our bodies and our mental well-being are directly connected. If you’ve ever gone for a short walk or workout (even if you didn’t feel like it), you know it can change your mood dramatically. This is because releasing endorphins helps to relieve pain and reduce stress.

The best part is, it doesn’t have to be strenuous. A 10-minute walk can be almost as effective as spending 30 minutes on a treadmill. If you’re really not feeling like doing anything physical, tell yourself you’ll do just five minutes and stop if you’re still feeling that way. Often, once we get started, we find we’re eager to keep going.

And don’t forget nutrition! You don’t have to eat perfectly all the time – we’ve all experienced the therapeutic value of a good chocolate chip cookie. But regularly eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can boost mood and energy.

5. Try Mindfulness Practices

Where your mind goes, energy flows. Mindfulness is a set of practices to help you focus on the present rather than letting your mind ruminate or worry about other things.  It often takes the form of tuning into physical sensations — inhaling and exhaling, sounds you can hear, the feeling of your body pressing against the ground as you stand or sit.

You can practice mindfulness while sitting with your eyes closed, much like meditation. Or you can practice mindfulness while walking — noticing the sounds in the air, feeling the breeze against your skin, experiencing how your breathing gets deeper, etc.

If you’d like to try guided mindfulness practice, there are several mindfulness apps available. Calm and Headspace are two of the more popular apps that can add a great benefit to your daily routine. And, mindfulness practices can take as little as five minutes, or more than 30 minutes, making them easy to pencil into your day.

Remember, don’t worry if your mind wanders, especially when first practicing mindfulness. It’s natural – that’s why it’s called “practice.”

6. Develop Routines

You probably already have routines that you may (or may not) notice. For example, which shoe do you put on first, the right or left?  How do you check to make sure you have everything you need before leaving your house in the morning? Is there a pattern to how you brush your teeth?

We’ve all developed routines, mostly unintentionally.

But you can develop helpful routines intentionally, with a little practice.

Routines can calm us, quiet our thoughts, and reassure our brains that we’re okay. They’re also a great way to have one simple task lead into a series of simple, beneficial actions.

For example, your morning routine could consist of a gratitude practice while brushing your teeth.

Or – you might develop a bedtime routine that consists of getting into bed and picking up a conveniently pre-placed book to read for 10 minutes before turning off the lights.

Also, notice where you already have routines and see where you can add new well-being-boosting actions. For example, when you get home after a workday, consider taking a 10-minute mindfulness walk before you start preparing a meal.

7. Give to Others

If gratitude is noticing things to be grateful for, giving to others is a way of actively creating those things.

It doesn’t have to be a big gesture. You may have a friend coping with depression who could use a bit of brightness in their day. You could bring someone their favorite cupcakes. And probably the simplest of all, you can give someone a nice compliment.

If you want to give more, you could regularly volunteer at a food bank or an elder-care facility — or in any capacity that suits you the best.

Giving is not only generous; it’s a fantastic boost to your well-being. When you put a bright spot in someone else’s day, you brighten up your day.

8. Learn Something New

Learning new things is a signal to our brain that we’re improving, that we’re moving forward.

It doesn’t have to be something groundbreaking. You might learn a new fact one day or the name of a famous painting. You might learn a new word. You might learn about the different types of coffee beans (and which you like best.)

Or you might learn something about yourself through a gratitude practice, five minutes of mindfulness, or noticing one of the automated routines we mentioned before.

Whatever it is, intentionally adding to your knowledge every day, even in small ways, is a signal to yourself that you’re improving and constantly becoming a better you. And trust us, you’ll notice!

Remember, Well-Being Starts With Being Well

At Elite DNA, we’re here to help you prioritize your well-being and give you the support you need to gain mental wellness. And there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help.

The good news is … that’s what we do!

We understand that you may not use all these strategies. You may even only try one or two to start. But we hope you explore all of them and see what works best for you – and reach out if you need support. Remember, we also have telehealth options for Psychiatry and Therapy appointments if that’s more your style.

From all of us at Elite DNA Behavioral Health, we wish you a happy and healthy Mental Health Awareness Month, and we hope that these tips help create an exciting new start to your daily well-being.

Need help prioritizing your mental health? Search for your nearest Elite DNA location in Florida and schedule an appointment today!

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