Mental Wellness

Would you wait until you had an abscess in your tooth to start regularly brushing your teeth? Probably not. But that is exactly the way many of us relate to our mental wellness. 

We wait until we are in a state of crisis to talk about it, to seek help, or take reactionary steps because mental wellness and psychological care are not prioritized in our society. 

May is Mental Health Month and it is time we begin to normalize mental wellness and do our part to remove the stigma around mental illnesses. 

In this week’s episode, I’m sharing my best tips to help you stay more balanced and mentally healthy and some things we can all do to integrate preventative mental wellness practices into our lives!

The global pandemic of the last year had a significant impact on our mental wellness. The World Health Organization has put out a call for an improved response to the mental health impact of Covid-19

The CDC reports a rise in anxiety, depression, increased use of substances, and worsening of mental health conditions in times of stress² with 18-29 year-olds and 29-38 year-olds being the most impacted

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are immediate resources available for you here. 

Let’s talk about some things you can do to stay in a more balanced state of mental health. While we don’t have control over everything, there are some supportive practices we can implement in our daily lives to increase our overall wellness and ability to cope. Here are some ideas:

Treat Your Body Right!

> Better sleep practices. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Keep your bedtime and wake times as consistent as possible. 

> Move your body daily if you are able. Walking and light stretching release feel-good hormones and improve mood. If you have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, do your best to incorporate them into your healthy eating plan. 

> Hydrate! Did you know dehydration can mimic and exacerbate the symptoms of anxiety? Drink plenty of H2O and limit your caffeine intake (it’s a diuretic).

> Get outside in nature and soak in some Vitamin D, just be sure to wear your sunscreen. 

Set Better Boundaries with Media + Screen Time

> Limit your media consumption. Be informed, but be aware of how much time you are spending in the 24-hour news cycle. If you are an empath or a highly sensitive person, the news or anything violent or disturbing can have a lasting impact on the conscious and unconscious mind. Read the news instead so you can have more control over what you are taking in. 

> Pay attention to how much time you are scrolling on social media. “Compare and despair” is real and can contribute to feelings of low self-esteem and impact our self-worth. Turn off your social media alerts or take a break and remove the apps from your phone altogether. 

> Limit screen time. Did you know blue light from devices can block up to 99% of sleep hormone production? If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, start to wean off your devices (phone, tablet, and yes, TV too) 1-2 hours before turning in for the night. Wearing blue-light-blocking glasses in the evening can also help signal your brain it’s time to rest. 

Incorporate Mindfulness

> There are many free meditation and breathing apps (I’ve included my favorites in the guide), and taking just 10-20 min a day to incorporate time to breathe deeply and create internal space can make a big difference. 

> My pal Lara Riggio is an incredibly skilled energy medicine expert and has a simple exercise to reset your brain and body’s stress response and you can do it anywhere, at any time. I’ve put a link to Lara’s video walking you through the exercise inside the guide for you! It’s changed my life! 

> TALK. Find a trusted friend or family member to confide in and do mental wellness check-ins. Seek out a mental health professional. Now, more than ever before, there are a variety of reputable online therapy options. Let’s normalize conversations about mental wellness and seeking support. 

I’ve included both paid and free resources inside this week’s downloadable guide because everyone deserves access to mental wellness support and care. Not just some of us but all of us.

Download the guide here now. 

Part of my mission is to normalize mental health care and preventative mental wellness. I believe we can get to the point that we regard it as any other normative health practice. 

We are human beings and we are each wired in incredibly complex and unique ways. Some of us have inherited traits and trauma, mental health issues, and psychological challenges in our family systems. There are an array of factors that inform how we relate to and experience mental wellness.

In my own experience, there’s a history of addiction and a history of cancer in my family. I treat preventative care, education, level of awareness, and seeking support the same for both.

If you or your family has a history of mental health issues, please hear me:

There is nothing wrong with you. You are not inherently flawed in some irreversible way. 

If there are mental health challenges, you can honor them and address them the way you would any other physical challenge. Part of what blocks us is the stigma around mental wellness, but we are all in it together and we can choose acceptance over shame.

We need to be able to talk about mental health issues and struggles respectfully and fluently. Our words matter. How we talk about it matters. I recently came across an article by Emily Bulthuis (MSW, LICSW), about what words and terms can be harmful when talking about mental illnesses and what to say instead

Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Swap “mental illness” for “mental illnesses” — “illness” it is too broad a term and doesn’t really reflect what the person is really going through. 
  • Don’t use “afflicted by” or “suffers from” or is “a victim of” – instead use “living with a mental illness” — The former terms imply someone is unwell and unhappy while the latter confirms people with mental health challenges can and do lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
  • Don’t use “mentally ill person” instead, use “person living with a mental health issue”. There is more to people than just their mental illness and the latter honors them as a whole person outside of their diagnosis.  
  • Instead of “substance abuse” use “disordered relationship with substances” — Abuse connotates the individual is making a choice when we know substance issues have neurobiological and emotional health factors which lead to misuse. 
  • Instead of saying someone “committed suicide” say “lost to suicide” or “died by suicide”. Using “committed” implies BLAME. We would never blame someone for dying of cancer, would we? No, we would not. 

Can you see how making these shifts in how we talk about mental wellness could make a big difference? We can choose to perpetuate the stigma or lessen it. Language is powerful. 

Let’s keep this conversation going and do our part to normalize mental wellness and taking preventative measures to be as wholly healthy as we can be! If this resonated with you, please, connect with me over on Instagram @terricole and let me know!

Thank you for being here and as always, take care of you.

¹https://www.who.int/news/item/11-02-2021-who-executive-board-stresses-need-for-improved-response-to-mental-health-impact-of-public-health-emergencies

²https://www.who.int/news/item/05-10-2020-covid-19-disrupting-mental-health-services-in-most-countries-who-survey

³https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7013e2.htm

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