As Mental Health Awareness Month wraps up, we are reminded that mental health is a critical part of overall good health throughout our lives. Whether you are just starting your mental health journey or taking active, daily steps toward improving your mental health, here are some gentle reminders and resources.
Start a gratitude journal… or just a basic journal. Journaling daily, especially first thing in the morning, will help clear your mind of any negativity that might be hanging on from the day before. While focusing on the positive is ideal, if you run out of things to be grateful for, simply writing your thoughts before you start your day can be a good way to lighten your load and clear the way for a great day.
Move your body. You’ve likely heard this one before, because evidence shows that exercise is beneficial for mental health. Not only does it reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood, it also improves self-esteem and cognitive functioning. A study by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Physical activity boosts the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels—all of which affect focus and attention.
Meditate. Have you ever closed your eyes and taken a deep breath after a stressful moment? Congratulations! You’ve benefitted from the art of meditation. At its core, meditation is the practice of focused concentration, bringing yourself back to the moment over and over again. This simple act of mindfulness helps improve concentration and can reduce stress and anxiety. The best part is you can meditate practically anywhere and at any time. Just close your eyes and breathe.
Or, as Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
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