At the April 24 Bangor City Council meeting, Northern Light Acadia Hospital was on hand to receive the city’s official proclamation declaring the month of May as “Mental Health Awareness Month”. Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time for each of us to pause from our busy lives, take stock of our mental health, and ask ourselves and those around us, “How are you doing, really?”
One of the best ways to manage our mental health is through self-care. Self-care can help manage stress, lower our risk of illness, and increase energy. Even small acts of self-care in our daily lives can have a big effect! In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Acadia Hospital is pleased to share helpful tips to help you get started with self-care:
• Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can help boost your mood and improve your health. Small amounts of exercise add up, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t do 30 minutes at one time.
• Eat healthy, regular meals and stay hydrated. A balanced diet and plenty of water can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. Also, limit caffeinated beverages such as soft drinks or coffee.
• Make sleep a priority. Stick to a schedule, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Blue light from devices and screens can make it harder to fall asleep, so reduce blue light exposure from your phone or computer before bedtime.
• Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs or apps, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy activities you enjoy such as journaling.
• Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.
• Practice gratitude. Remind yourself daily of things you are grateful for. Be specific. Write them down at night or replay them in your mind.
• Focus on positivity. Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
• Stay connected. Reach out to your friends or family members who can provide emotional support and practical help.
Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you! In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health.
Watch for more helpful information all month long during Mental Health Awareness Month and learn more at northernlight.org/behavioral.