Mental Health Month: Five Ways You Can Spring Clean Your Mental Health

Women hanging out - mental health day

Mental health has long been overlooked as an important factor in overall health. Recent research and initiatives like Mental Health Month outline mental health’s role in practicing a healthy lifestyle. In fact, mental health is just as important as physical health! This year, Mental Health Month is highlighting the theme #4mind4Body. In honor of Mental Health Month, here are five areas you can start some mental health spring cleaning.

Work-Life Balance:

Everyone recognizes the importance and value of going to work. Working allows us to provide for ourselves and our families. We often find value and purpose in our chosen careers. However, when you fail to balance the time spent at work with the time you have to yourself, imbalances in your mental health can arise.

Studies show that people with a good work-life balance are more satisfied and experience fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. Poor work-life balance can lead to elevated stress levels, which can negatively affect your sleeping habits and digestion. Research also shows that over 75% of people are afraid of being punished for taking a “mental health day” off of work.

If you feel as though you are suffering from a mental health condition, talk to your supervisor or HR representative about expectations and accommodations. The Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act were designed to protect workers with health concerns. Perhaps your employer can grant you flexible hours or more work from home days, so you are well-equipped to maintain a positive mental health state.

Spirituality & Religion:

Research shows participating in an organized religion or spiritual group provides a major mental health boost for people. One study found a 22% lower risk of depression among those who attended a regular monthly religious service. Other religious or spiritual practices, like practicing gratitude and believing in post-traumatic growth and purpose, have been shown to reduce rates of depression, alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts. Additionally, people have reported religious beliefs or activities provide a way to cope with daily frustrations and stressors.

Other spiritual practices like meditation are linked to the release of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine which should improve your mood and outlook. Mediation is also linked to decreased production of stress-inducing hormones like cortisol and noradrenaline. Whether or not you identify as religious, you may still benefit from other spiritual activities like meditation, yoga, practicing gratitude, fostering a sense of “awe”, and looking for deeper connections to those around you.

Humor:

The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” may not be too far from the truth. Laughing triggers a host of positive reactions in our bodies: a decrease in stress hormones, a release of endorphins, a stronger immune system, and stimulation of the heart, lungs, and other muscles. Since laughter counteracts the destructive work of stress hormones, it can also reduce risk of heart conditions and blood clots. Humor creates a bond between people, so it is a powerful tool to build community and reduce isolation.

If you need a little more levity in your life, do not be afraid to take a break from whatever is stressing you out. Go and search out something to make you laugh. With access to the internet, humorous content is easier to find than ever. For a quick laugh, check out memes, comics, Youtube videos, or other funny content.  For a longer laugh, test out a new comedy show or movie. Try to incorporate more humorous elements into your daily life – whether it is a silly picture of your pet or child on your desk, a funny podcast during your commute, or some other humor staple. There is always room to let a little laughter into your routine. 

Social Connections:

Being lonely is not a pleasant feeling, but did you know it also has implications for your physical health? Loneliness is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and a slower recovery from serious illnesses. Some health care professionals insist loneliness causes the same damage to your lifespan as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. People who have strong social connections report more satisfaction in their daily lives and are 50% more likely to live longer than their lonely counterparts.

If you are struggling to find meaningful connections, try something new! Take a class at the local Parks and Recreation Department or community college. Sign up for a recreational sports league or volunteer in the community to help the less fortunate. There are plenty of opportunities to make social connections and to do something good for yourself and your community at the same time. 

Animal Companionship:

Science shows our furry friends are good for more than cute pictures – they can actually provide a positive impact on your health! 80% of people with pets report their pets bring them happiness and emotional support. 55% of pet owners also report they believe their pet reduce anxiety and depression.

Having a pet can increase your physical activity and cardiovascular health as well as decrease loneliness, which is linked to a multitude of negative health effects. Studies show animal interactions reduce stress, anxiety, and boredom while improving mood in those who are critically ill. If you are not able to have a pet of your own, volunteer to walk a friend’s dog or spend some time at the local animal shelter.

Mental health is an important aspect of your overall health. If you are looking to spring clean your health this month, reach out to your local branch of Capital Women’s Care to see how we can help you!

Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.

 

Go to top