May is Mental Health Awareness Month

If you ever participated in the Girl or Boy Scouts you probably remember earning adventure and achievement patches. I know. Earning each new patch was pretty much the best thing ever.

If you have ever experienced mental illness, or know someone who has, you also know that it can be quite a difficult adventure. When facing mental health challenges completing even the simplest task can require an enormous amount of effort. Navigating, enduring, and overcoming these challenges is such a huge accomplishment, and that deserves celebration!

Throughout the month of May, we encourage you to celebrate any and all achievements that promote a healthier you with these Mental Health Achievement Patches. Every time you incorporate one of the following self-help strategies into your day cut out the patch and place it on a calendar, on your fridge, or anywhere else you can be reminded of your accomplishment!

Description of each patch:

1. Soak up the sun Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts believe is a mood elevator.

2. Take an epsom salt bath Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains, promote relaxation, and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.

3. Embark on an Adventure The challenge of a new adventure can help boost confidence, and promote self-reflection.

4. Get creative Artistic expression can help in reducing pain, decreasing stress, and providing a positive focus.

5. Find a furry friend Time with animals can lower the stress hormone cortisol, and boost oxytocin stimulating feelings of happiness.

6. Pump up the jams Music has been shown to reduce stress, increase energy, and even improve sleep.

7. Eat “an apple a day” What you eat nourishes your whole body, including your brain. Nourish your whole self with healthy foods to regulate mood.

8. Enjoy nature Being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression, and boost well-being.

9. Indulge with some chocolate The flavanoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.

10. Limit or eliminate alcohol Alcohol causes serotonin levels in the brain to be depleted, which can contribute to low or depressed mood.

11. Chat with a friend Social connection is closely linked to overall health and longevity.

12. Journal Journaling is effective in helping identify and accept emotions as well as manage stress.

13. Practice Yoga Practicing physical yoga postures, meditation, and breathing exercises have all been show to help regulate mood.

14. Find a funny Take time to laugh. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.

15. Exercise Research that shows that exercise improves mood. Your ability to learn also improves immediately following exercise.

16. Send a thank you note Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.

17. Stay hydrated When we do not consume enough water we often feel lethargic, have low mood, and are prone to headaches.

18. Wild card! What works for you? This is not a complete list of tools to help manage mental health. Some suggestions may work well for you, and some may not. Take some time to engage in an activity that you enjoy, or try something new!

19. Set a regular sleep-wake cycle Recent studies have suggested a molecular link between mood regulation and circadian rhythm.

20. Coffee or tea? Coffee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression. If you can’t drink coffee because of the caffeine, try another good-for-you drink like green tea.