NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, holds Mental Health Awareness Month every year in May. This year’s message is “You Are Not Alone.” The idea is to create a nation-wide effort to help others feel less alone in their struggles with mental illness and wellness - forging a community where nobody feels ashamed to say "Hey, I'm struggling and I need help."
That being said, I’ll be honest…2021 has been difficult so far. Aside from my role at CCSA, I also moved cities and started a Master’s program this past year. These changes have caused my stress levels to fluctuate upwards (a lot!) Not to mention, those periodic moments of hopelessness caused by the loss and uncertainty of Covid-19…
That’s why I’m making "7 May resolutions" as a part of Mental Health Awareness Month…feel free to leave a comment below with your own self-care resolutions.
1) Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. This May, I’m going to work on solidifying my boundaries around work-life-school balance. Working and learning remotely (or through a hybrid model) can be difficult, even after a long year of doing so. Recently, I've fallen back into the habit of jumping from one task to another without clear boundaries. So May's going to be all about setting boundaries, safe-guarding my downtime, and connecting to the task at hand.
2) Improve my Sleep Cycle. Get 8 hours of sleep they say? I constantly try to negotiate that down to 5-6 instead. This month, I'm going to make a conscious effort to follow the experts' advice and recharge my body for a solid 8 hours a night. After all, sleep boosts our immune systems, creates proteins that help rectify issues caused by toxic stress, keeps our heart healthy, and promotes an active, clear-minded brain!
3) Move my body. Every. Single. Day. Even if it's just a quick walk around the block or 5 minutes of stretching in the morning, I'm going to attempt to move my body every day this month. I (like many people these days) spend many hours in front of a computer screen - moving around is super important to regulate my mood and keep my body feeling energetic.
4) Get out in nature. This past week, we finally had our first 80 degree day of 2021 in Philadelphia - it's definitely time to plan some hikes, walks, and other outdoor activities! There are more complicated scientific benefits to being in nature, but on the simplest level - nature just has good vibes and helps me clear my mind.
5) Start every day with gratitude. 2020 and 2021 have involved a lot of loss. Whether it was the loss of a routine, the loss of certainty, the loss of a job or opportunity, or the literal, heart-breaking loss of a loved one - everyone has experienced loss this last year. When we force our brains to focus on being grateful for what we do have though - big or small - it helps regulate our moods, keeps us feeling positive, and even helps our performance in different areas of life. I'm hoping to make May a month of gratitude.
6) Don't compare, don't despair. In our age of social media, it's so easy to look at someone's page or feed and think "Wow, I wish my life was more like theirs." At the end of the day, none of that matters, though. People's social medias are just their highlight reels. So when you compare your real to their reel, you're bound to feel disappointed. Real life is messy, emotional, and - on some days - really hard! This month, I plan to fully embrace my less-than-perfect life and try not to dress it up or compare it to other people's.
7) And last but not least: smile more. There are literal psychological and biological benefits to smiling. Smiling is shown to better your mood, lower your blood pressure, and even increase your lifespan. In line with being grateful, I'm going to find more things to smile about this month!
Post any positive resolutions you want to make below (or elsewhere!) Just like you are not alone in your struggles, you are not alone in your positive changes either.
Additional information on Mental Health Awareness month and the "You Are Not Alone" initiative can be found at Mental Health Month | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness
For more information on contributing the CCSA blog, please out to Ellie Forman at email@example.com