May is National Mental Health Month

by aevans
May is National Mental Health Month
Life never fails to throw challenges and obstacles in our way - and usually when we need a break most! Recognizing the toll that stress places on our lives and being able to deal with it effectively is important to remaining happy and healthy.  Mental Health America, the nation's leading non-profit dedicating to helping everyone lead mentally healthier lives, has designated May as National Mental Health Month. Whether it's money, employment or family life, everyone must cope with stress at some point. It's how we deal with that stress that can determine whether we are generally happy or battling problems such as depression and anxiety. Despite all the stress in your life, take some time this month to assess your own mental health and how you can work to improve it.

Not only does stress affect your mental health, but it also directly affects your physical health as well.  Stress may contribute to any of the following:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease and stroke
  • decreased immune defenses
  • cancer
  • stomach problems
  • poorer brain functioning

How much is too much stress? Here are some common symptoms of stress-overload:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • loss of concentration
  • difficulty making decisions
  • inability to control anger
  • increased use of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes or drugs
  • increased or decreased eating
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • thinking often about what you need to do

If experience any of these symptoms regularly, it's time to develop coping strategies so that you're in control over your life and not the other way around.

There are tons of coping strategies out there, but you need to experiment with a few and see what works best for you.  Here's a few recommended by Mental Health America:

Connect with others - Humans are social beings by nature.  People who regularly interact with others are healthier, happier and may even live longer lives.

Keep Your Glass Half Full - Try and see the positive side of things.  Keeping your mind on the good things helps prevent bad thoughts from dominating you perspective.

Move - Exercise each day!  Being physically active helps alleviate stress and anxiety and keeps your body looking and feeling healthy.  Exercise has been shown to help insomnia and relieve symptoms of depression.

Catch some Z's - Sleep is critical to feeling your best.  Sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain, accidents, reduced ability to focus and concentrate and even heart problems. Try to go to bed and wake up at about the same time each day

Eat Well - Choose healthier foods and eat meals regularly. Not getting enough nutrients can lead to depression, lack of energy and higher risk of developing certain diseases.

Remember that there is no shame is seeking professional help.  More than 80% of people treated for depression improve.

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