As an undergrad Psychology student, I believe it is important to recognize mental health awareness, not only in May, but everyday. It is necessary to break the stigma of mental illness and to encourage people to create mental practices for selfcare on a regular basis. Since the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the number of people who suffer with anxiety and depression have increased, as well as the symptoms of people who already experienced them before the pandemic. Many individuals who thought of themselves as outgoing or introverted, find themselves feeling rather anxious and hypervigilant in public after being in isolation. Others have increased fear of the virus and getting ill, as well as experiencing depression and PTSD after having lost loved ones to COVID-19.
Instead of focusing on the negative aspects surrounding our experiences since last year, today we will discuss positive coping skills that can increase happiness and optimum mental wellness. Thanks to my winter course, Positive Psychology, I have access to a few tools that I would like to share with you here. Please keep in mind, like any call to action in self development and care, one must follow through. I know you have it in you! First I will give you a list of things you can do at home and then I will provide links to scholarly research, resources and tools you can use to help yourself.
Here is a list of 10 things you can do to selfcare and start feeling better. Remember, no one else deserves your love more than you do.
- Breathwork-Take 5-8 slow, deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Frequencies-Make a playlist of relaxation meditations, songs, or binaural beats that you can access quickly when you are feeling these emotions come up that you know can calm you (you can combine with breathwork).
- Grounding-Take a leisurely stroll in nature, ground your bare feet or bum on the earth in the soft lush grass. If you live in the city, go to a dog or kid park and watch animals and kids play. Play with them if you can, this will increase your serotonin.
- Journaling-Write about everything that is coming up for you and how you feel about each one, practice letting go of those feelings one at a time as you toss away the paper. Make a list of everything you are grateful for today. Try doing this with just three things everyday for 30 days. Write down customized affirmations that relate to your desires in life and then go to the mirror and look yourself in the eye and say them aloud.
- Exercise-Run/jog, walk, do yoga, swim, hike, dance, or whatever physical activities you enjoy. All of these activities can increase dopamine and serotonin.
- Self Love-Cook your very favorite dishes just for you or someone to share with. Take a nice bubble bath with epsom salt, essential oils, crystals, music, and relax your worries away.
- Pay It Forward-Volunteer or be of service in some way. Go to a soup kitchen, go to a shelter, give out free hugs. Go to a library and read stories to children.
- Express yourself-Tell someone you love them without expectations, sing, try some scream therapy in an appropriate location where it doesn’t sound like you are in danger and where it won’t be disturbing others (even if it’s muffled in a pillow).
- Creativity-Figure out a hobby to occupy your fleeting thoughts, try many mediums of art, go fishing, paddle boarding, skiing, skating, fly a kite, draw, sculpt, create, do karaoke and sing your heart out no matter what it sounds like (people do it all the time, trust me).
- Socialize-Visit a friend you haven’t seen in awhile and catch up. Go visit a nursing home and listen to the wonderful stories and wisdom of the elderly.
The photo above is a picture of me doing a yoga pose at a random stop on a road trip in front of Elephant Butte, New Mexico. Here is a link to the Authentic Happiness and the Positive Psychology websites that have a variety of useful questionnaires and tools that can help you to determine what areas to work on so that you can be your best self. I wish you love, joy, peace, and mental wellness on your journey. Here are the links mentioned above for your pleasure. #BreaktheStigma #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth
These pages have abundant resources: