Even though the circumstances may be different, the last year has been challenging for everyone.
But one silver lining to emerge from this collective experience is that more of us are opening up about the toll that all of it has taken on our mental health. Asking for help, being candid about our personal struggles, or sharing with others the everyday mental health tips we’ve discovered for ourselves can feel uncomfortable. But having these conversations can also help chip away at enduring stigmas and misinformation surrounding mental illness.
They also remind us that we are not alone.
According to 2019 data released by the National Institute of Mental Health:
- 1 in 5 adults in the US experience a mental illness.
- 18.1% or 42 Million US adults live with anxiety disorders.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
- African American and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about ½ the rate of whites in the previous year; Asian Americans at about 1/3 the rate.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when organizations like Mental Health America ramp up outreach, education, tools, and tips for mental health awareness. Regardless of whether they’ve been assigned to a diagnosis or not, everyone’s feelings and experiences matter - and caring for mental health should always be a priority. Here are some quick mental health tips to help you get through some of the tougher days:
Tips To Improve Your Mental Health Daily
Remember to breathe. Breathing is supposed to come naturally, but stress and anxiety can cause breathing to speed up or become shallow without our realizing it. Find small moments throughout the day - like between phone calls or every time you wash your hands - to check in on and find grounding through deep breathing.
Rest, even if it's for a few minutes. Not everyone has the time, money, or bandwidth to support a weekly therapy session or a regular yoga practice. But taking a 10-minute break in the form of meditation, a quick cat nap, even during a bath, can work wonders.
Try something new. From exercise and coloring books to dietary changes and beyond, tapping into the tools we have at our disposal - and changing things up when we need to - can go a long way toward supporting mental health management.
Normalize the conversation. The only way to normalize talking about mental illness is to, well, talk about it. It’s okay to trade the default response, “I’m fine,” with “I’m struggling today” when asked how you’re doing. Being forthright about our feelings is a reminder that we’re human and are doing the best we can.
Get involved: There are lots of organizations and individuals offering mental health resources, including low-cost options and support tailored to the needs of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other underserved communities. Lend your support by making a financial donation and spreading the word.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When nothing in the toolbox is helping, then it’s time to ask for help. Call or text a friend or family member, or reach out to organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and The Trevor Project. Again, you are not alone.
And together, we will get through this.