10 ways to take care of your mind during Mental Health Awareness Month
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, aka the perfect time to give your mind some well-deserved TLC. Although you should always care for your mental health, this month serves as a reminder that looking after ourselves both physically *and* mentally is super important. That's why we compiled a list of 10 simple things you can do this May for your mental health...
Download a meditation/mindfulness app
There are a plethora of mental health benefits from meditation (it reduces negative emotions, helps with stress management and lowers blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic). If you don't know where to start, download a meditation app like Calm or Headspace to guide you through it. Just a few minutes of peace and solitude from your busy, everyday routine can work wonders for your state of mind.
Do some light exercise
Exercise is a great way to boost endorphins, seratonin and dopamine—all hormones that make you feel happy! Even if it's a light workout such as yoga or going on a walk, getting your body moving is a surefire way to feel good.
Just remember: As a woman, our menstrual cycles can impact how we feel (mentally and physically) and when we want to work out. Check out this article for the perfect workout for every phase of your cycle!
Start a gratitude journal
There is so much to be grateful for, and sometimes getting caught up in school, work and life in general makes us forget everything we have. That's why you should start a gratitude journal to keep track of everything amazing in your life. You can add to it on a daily or weekly basis. And don't be afraid to get creative: Drawing, doodling and coloring are all relaxing, artistic outlets for your mind.
Cook a healthy meal
Nothing feels more comforting than a delicious, nourishing meal cooked from scratch! Cooking allows you to take a step away from everything, focus on the task at hand and create a yummy reward—what's not to love?
Eating healthy foods is great for your brain, too! Leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds and beans and legumes are all beneficial for brain health. Try incorporating these foods into some recipes.
Not getting enough rest and feeling tired makes it *super* difficult to stay motivated throughout the day. Making sure you sleep at least 8 hours every night is really important for energy, brain function and stress levels. If you want to improve your sleep try these 7 all-natural ways to sleep better.
Make a jammin' playlist
There are *so* many reasons to listen to music, no matter what mood you're in. Music, like exercise, releases dopamine that makes you feel happier. Put together the ultimate feel-good playlist complete with your favorite songs and artists ("Cruel Sumer" is topping ours, tbh). Next time you're feeling a bit down, throw on some headphones and immediately feel the good vibes!
Need some playlist inspo? Here's what artist you should start listening to, based on your zodiac sign!
Listen to a podcast
If you're not in the mood for music, press play on a podcast. Hearing others talk about the science behind how you're feeling or just knowing that you're not alone in your hardship can be reassuring during difficult times. Our fave female-led mental health podcasts include The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos, Therapy for Black Girls with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford or We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle.
Connect with others
When we're feeling down, we tend to seclude ourselves and shut people out. Although you want to be alone in these moments, reaching out to those who care about you can make you feel better! Ask a friend to get coffee or see if your mom wants to cook something with you. Surrounding yourself with good people will get your mind off things and help you feel relaxed, so don't be afraid to reach out.
Read, read, read
Reading is a great way to escape and put your mind at ease! Whether it's a mystical fantasy or a lovely romance, pick up a book you've been meaning to dive into and get to reading. Reading helps keep cortisol (a main stress hormone) levels at bay. Pro tip: Try reading right before bed instead of looking at your phone to improve your sleep and really reap the benefits!
As the weather gets nicer, going outside is much more enjoyable (and important!). According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, being in nature helps lower your risk of depression and improve stress recovery. From walking to tanning to biking, there are *plenty* of ways to enjoy the outdoors.
How are you taking care of your mental health this May? Tag us on Insta @girlslifemag!