Though Mental Health Awareness Month has passed it is important to keep the discussion of mental health going throughout the year. According to the CDC, mental illness are conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Such conditions may be occasional or long-lasting (chronic) and affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Mental health has a huge stigma around it which leads to many people not taking care of themselves and overlooking their health. Learn more about why taking care of your mental health is important, what signs to look for, and more.
Why is it important?
Mental health is extremely important from young adults to the elderly. It affects all types of people, and in different ways. Just like physical health is prioritized, your mental health should be too, in fact your mental health can affect your physical health. For example, depression can increase your risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Your mental health can affect how you think, feel, and act. It can also change your relationships, how you make choices and how you deal with others. Mental illness is a very common health condition in America. According to the CDC 1 in every 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a year. Some causes can be feeling lonely or isolated, trauma, history of abuse, chemical imbalance in the brain, drugs, alcohol and more.
Dealing with your mental health can:
- Help you at work
- Make you physically healthy
- Help with your relationships
- Reach your full potential
- Help cope with stress
Signs to look out for:
- Mood swings
- Low energy
- Thoughts of self-harm
- Abnormal eating patterns
- Abnormal sleeping patterns
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Avoiding friends or family
- Having unexplained aches or pains
- Feeling numb
- Feeling confused, angry, or on edge
- Inability to do normal daily tasks
Ways to help
There is not just one way to start dealing with your mental health. There are medications, therapies, doctors, that can help you on your journey to healing. Here are just some ways you can help cope with anxiety, a common mental health condition that affects 40 million adults each year.
Write things down
Journaling is a great way to handle stress and anxiety. Being able to write your thoughts on paper can be very therapeutic. You could write all the negative sad thoughts down, happy thoughts, write a success journal or a gratitude journal. This will help improve the way you handle your stress and allow yourself to get everything out.
Aromatherapy uses calming essential oils scents such as lavender, rose, sandalwood, and more to relax the mind, body, and spirit, which can help both your mental and physical health.
Practice breathing techniques
When people feel anxious sometimes they begin to not breath properly which can lead to panic attacks. Using deep breathing techniques can increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and help you calm down. Some easy breathing techniques:
- Box breathing – exhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 4, inhale to the count of 4, hold in air to the count of 4, and repeat. This technique is also called 4- square breathing.
- Belly breathing – lay down, place your hand on your belly and chest, breathe in slowly through your nose and out through pursed lips.
- Lions breath – stick out your tongue and roar like a lion. Helps relax the muscles in your face.
- Mindful breathing – focus on your breath and bring your attention to the present without letting your mind drift off.
Listen to music
Soothing music is known to affect your mood, emotions, and be a stress management tool. It can slow the heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and be a good distraction.
Art therapy and artistic expression, in general, is good for the soul. Many people can benefit from this healing property of art therapy, especially during the holiday season and over the cold winter months. Creating an art piece from scratch has a variety of therapeutic elements especially for older adults. GoodTherapy even goes so far as to refer to art therapy as a “self-portrait for the soul.”
At Spring Hills Senior Communities, we are proud to offer a variety of art therapy opportunities for the seniors in our care. We understand that this time of year can be difficult for them so we aim to use art therapy as one of many tools to help improve their mental health during this time of year. To learn more about our Signature Touches, contact us.