May is Mental Health Awareness Month
May 11th, 2021
By Alejandra Segovia, RISE Intern
“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and to bring awareness, I want to share my top five favorite tips from the Metal Health Organization that will help boost your mental health this month.
1. Track Your Gratitude and Achievements with a Journal.
As the Mental Health America organization states, keeping a journal with you and writing three things you are grateful for and three things you accomplished in a day can boost your mental health. A study done by researchers of the University of Miami asked participants to write in a journal for ten weeks focusing on either things that they were grateful for that happened that week or things that irritated them that had happened that week. Researchers found a strong correlation between participants who wrote down something positive in their journal and how optimistic and good they felt about life vs those participants that had a journal that focused on situations that were more negative.
Kory Floyd, a Human Communications professor from Arizona State University found in a study that “communicating our positive feelings for others through words or actions offers a wide range of health benefits.” Not only does this make you feel better but the person receiving all this affection also feels better. As Floyd nicely puts it, “One of the things I give as an example of the link between affection and health is the way you feel when you’re having a really horrible day, and everything’s going wrong. And in the midst of that stressful day, you see somebody that you care about and they put their arms around you and give you a hug,” he says. “That hug may not change anything about what’s going bad in your day, but it can change everything about the way you feel in that moment. It feels like all of your stress is just melting away.”
Trying something new and creative can help boost your mental health. Many studies have found that people are more likely to report being happy and energized when they engage in everyday small acts of creativity. From experimenting with a new recipe to trying a Pinterest project, all this works in favor of your mental health.
Who doesn’t love a nice small piece of dark chocolate? Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, which means it “possesses antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the brain from free radical damage.” As Nidhi Joshi, a Ph.D. student at G.B Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, puts it “chocolate contains Phenylethylamine, which stimulates the release of dopamine from the brain, a neurotransmitter that creates a feeling of pleasure and motivation.” So, having a couple of pieces of dark chocolate can help you boost your mood and mental health.
As the Tri-City Medical Center noted in a study by researchers at Brigham Young University, “mental health distress in people during seasons with little sun exposure, on the contrary, days with plenty of sunshine were associated with better mental health.” Moreover, “it only takes 5-15 minutes of sunlight a few times a week to notice a difference.” Go out and get some sun to boost your mental health, of course, don’t forget your sunscreen!