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Crush Stress and Improve Your Mental Health With These Tips

May is Mental Health Awareness Month- a topic that tends to get pushed to the back of our minds and something that never seems to take priority over other responsibilities. How many times has your head hit your pillow at night, and you realized that you never took a moment to yourself? Never took a moment to breathe or reflect? You do not have to take a yoga class or meditate to practice self-care. Check out the options below that can help you achieve your ZEN every day.

1. Go for a walk. 
Nature is a great place to take a moment to reflect on your day. Fresh air relaxes the body and getting in those extra steps gets your heart rate up and increases blood flow to your brain and limbs. Doing this can help to clear the mind and relax the body after a long day.

2. Leave your phone outside your bedroom for the night. 
The endless scroll and the glow of your phone can make it very hard to get rest at night. Also, things you see on your social media feed might not always be positive and can cause stress. Plug your phone up outside of your room. Doing that will avoid any temptation to stay up too late looking at things online. Taking your eyes off the glow of your phone; at least an hour before bed can improve your quality of sleep. 

3. Create a texting support group. 
With the number of responsibilities that you have every day, it can be easy to let large amounts of time go by before checking in on your loved ones. Start a group specifically for you and your friends to air out grievances or ask for help. Sometimes it can be nice to get it off your chest or get a few words of encouragement from those most important. 

4. Be ok with saying “no”.
Sometimes you may be asked to do something that you don’t have the mental or physical bandwidth to do, but you may still say “Yes” to please others. Be at peace with being able to say “No” or letting someone know that you don’t have the mental capacity to take on another responsibility. Your friends and family want you to be happy and will understand if you can’t always do it all. 

5. Create actionable and realistic goals for your upcoming week.
If you feel like you are in a rut, create a list of goals. The goals should be actionable and realistic for the next seven days. These goals could be as simple as getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, taking 15 minutes a day to read, or spending 30 minutes each day doing a physical activity with a friend. If you don’t achieve all your goals for the week, roll them over to the next one. 

6. Call a friend and check-in. Give them compliments. 
A great way to make yourself feel better and improve your mood is to compliment someone else! As simple as calling your friend and telling them how much you love them or complimenting a stranger on their shoes- the ability to spread positivity will help improve your mood as well. 

7. Spend time in the sun.
Whether it’s going for a walk, sitting on your balcony, grabbing lunch at an outdoor table with a friend, spend some time in the outdoors. As the weather warms up, time in the sunshine will help to stimulate your skin to make more vitamin D, regulate melatonin, and boost serotonin. These help with your immune system, sleep patterns, and your mood!

8. Take a moment to reflect and meditate.
Turn off all your electronics and spend some time in silence to possibly meditate or reflect on your day. Sound pollution can make it hard to concentrate. Take some time with your thoughts but keep them positive!

9. Try a new recipe. 
Cooking can be a great way to self-care by spending some time alone or with a friend or partner creating a delicious meal. Trying something new can be fun. Cooking is a great confidence booster when you create a tasty new dish. Go outside your comfort zone and build your confidence. 

If you are still feeling under the weather, It’s OK to need support. The Mental Health Hotline at 1-888-793-4357 provides individualized support and connects residents to services. The Mental Health Hotline is available any time of the day or night for up to three confidential individual counseling sessions at no cost.