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Managing Your Mental Health: Ideas and Tips From Real People

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World Mental Health Day is observed each year on October 10. As this day arrives in 2020, a year that was full of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of mental health remains a crucial topic for discussion. According to cdc.gov, 40 percent of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health during late June—and the CDC has kept a pulse on these statistics as time goes on.

To extend a supportive and encouraging hand to our community, our team shared how we have been maintaining our mental health over the past several months.

“When I'm feeling frustrated, stuck or overwhelmed, taking a moment to remind myself of what I'm grateful for helps me feel more calm and centered. When I can discipline myself enough to do it, meditation works wonders for giving me peace and clarity.”

“In all honesty, I tend to do things that are pretty basic and obvious in terms of mental health. Try to exercise regularly, get outside to feel the sun and wind and experience nature, read, listen to music. The key is getting some balance and perspective. It's easy to get to a bad place mentally when you're stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts or emotions, which can be self-reinforcing and worsen and deepen over time. I find it's critical (and usually effective) to break that cycle in some way with a change of scenery, activity, thinking, etc., which helps enable a change in perspective, mood, and outlook.”

“I find motivational quotes helpful! I have this plaque on my wall… ‘You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.’ I also try to stay in touch with friends and family through text throughout the day to not feel so isolated.”

“I take regular breaks throughout the day, only a few minutes each. I stand up, walk around the house, play with the dog, step outside, etc. I definitely take an hour in the middle of the day for lunch. I turn off my phone, I cook a meal, I do not look at anything work-related. Sometimes, I like to walk around my neighborhood for that hour, or go to Goodwill, or watch something on tv. Literally pretend that I am not at work for about an hour (if able). I schedule time for myself in my calendar. Instead of keeping work regimented and non-work life ‘loose,’ I like to force myself to commit to fun things, like drawing, spending time with family, etc. It has helped.”

“Each day I am aware, more now than ever, how important it is for me to turn off the noise and chatter in my head. I turn on music that brings me peace and take long deep cleansing breaths. This allows me to listen to my heart and the hearts of others during this confusing time.”

“I try to remember not to be so hard on myself. Instead of being upset about what I couldn't accomplish, I try to take time to reflect on what I have accomplished.”

“Exercise regularly! Whether it is a walk or a fitness class, exercise helps me reduce stress and keeps me more positive and energetic throughout the work day. I also sleep better at night and I'm less stressed.”

“Say no, once in a while. When things shut down, we were able to gain perspective and spend some time without a lot of commitments. So, as things started back up again, my family and I were more conscious about where we should spend our time. Downtime is crucial to happiness, even for people who enjoy being active.”

“Eat well, sleep well, exercise regularly, and create moments that make you smile, no matter how simple or small.”

“To manage my mental health during these uncertain times, I try to focus on the lovely and unique benefits that come from these months working at home—working from my patio watching the bees buzz around my flowers and listening to the birds sing. Working in a completely different state, on a peaceful lake... without missing a beat. Enjoying the lower-stress atmosphere while I can, knowing that before we know it, we'll be back in the office and to our very-busy routine.”

Connect with Nature

    • Take walks
    • Pick up sticks in the yard (for a bonfire)!
    • Pull weeds/tidy the gardens
    • Grow something/nurture a plant
    • Talk to your plants
    • Have a socially distanced bonfire (try a "burn your bad art" bonfire)!

Nurture Others

    • Walk a dog
    • Talk to the dog!
    • Train the dog
    • Make gifts for others, just because
    • Call (don't text) your mom (and other friends, family members)
    • Visit a neighbor

Feed Your Brain

    • Subscribe to daily emails from positive/inspiring sources (gratefulness.org, meditation sites, religious/prayer sites, etc.)
    • Be mindful of your time on social media—unplug and do something from the first two categories above, fill your feeds with posts from positive/motivational thinkers
    • Create something with your hands
    • Journal
    • Start and end every day by listing three things you're grateful for

Practice Self Care

    • Sleep
    • Exercise
    • Meditate/pray/connect in silence
    • Keep up with routine/preventative care doctor appointments
    • Ask for help
    • Confide in someone
    • Eat well most of the time but treat yourself, too
    • Let go of toxic people/set boundaries
    • Smile
    • Laugh

Stay well! For more information and resources, visit who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day or cdc.gov/mentalhealth.

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