I did not want May to end without talking about Mental Health Awareness month. May is set aside for mental health, for advocacy, for awareness, and for helping people see that taking care of your mental health is ok. Not only is it ok, it is required of us to take care of our mental health in order to live full lives. This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness month is #4Mind4Body set by Mental Health America. They expanded on last year’s theme to help us connect our mental health to our physical health. This year, this included not just using or bodies to help us, but also companion animals, spiritual and religion, humor, work-life balance, and social connection and recreation. (http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may)
This year, especially this May, I have been taking this mind and body connection into a lot of consideration. This month, I have been dealing with a lot of stress. I have been working almost every day this month, working on new ideas, transitioning in my work life, been in charge of some big non-profit events, and trying to keep the work-life balance clear. One night I was working on something (honestly, I can’t remember which project it was) and my chest started aching. I told my husband, and his response was that I needed to find some way to relieve stress besides coffee. Well, ok. What should I do then? After consultation with some friends, I decided to start by trying a new running program. I haven’t been able to run well since high school due to knee and hip problems, but now that my hip is fixed, I was willing to try again. I downloaded a couch to 5K app, set a goal of running a 5K this fall, laced up my Nike’s and started running. Let me tell you, I am OUT OF SHAPE. That first run was tough. And when I say run, my app has me run 60 seconds and walk for 90 the first two weeks to help build up to more running. But I didn’t give up. I kept going, because I knew my body and my mind needed it. On the couple runs I’ve been on, I have really been able to unplug my mind from my to do list and focus on my body. I keep telling myself, one more step, one more half mile, you’ve got this. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.
The other big theme I’ve been actively working on not just this month, but this whole year is my work-life balance. For those of you that don’t know me- I consistently work 6 days a week, and 4 of those are 12 hour work days. This year, I have found myself more tired than I have been in years past and I have figured out that my work-life balance has been more skewed towards work with a little bit of life thrown in there. I have spent the last few months not saying “yes” to everything, and working on focusing on work things that are truly important to me and my career. By saying “no” to some things, I have been able to say “yes” to more of the life things. I have been able to see more people, talk to more people, be home with my husband more, and have been in a more calm mental state.
To further go along with this years extended #4Mind4Body theme, I have also tried to make sure that I am seeing, or at least talking, to my friends more often. They are what keep my brain sane most of the time and they’re just great people. As for humor, that’s what meme’s are for…right? Although we do not have animals at our house…yet…I definitely understand the importance of having a loving companion, and it is something that I often suggest to clients to find a dog or cat or turtle that they love.
I hope that throughout this month, you have been able to find things to help your mind and body health more improved. What are some things you have found that have helped you? Stay tuned for some further posts about mental health and grief!