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Making Mental Health Priority

In case you didn't know, the pandemic has, and continues to, take its toll on the mental health of our youth. Our children are back in school but may have problems adjusting. The ability to reconnect through World Mental Health Day provides us with an opportunity to re-kindle our efforts to protect and improve mental health.

World Mental Health Day was first celebrated in 1992 by an organization called the World Federation for Mental Health. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports World Mental Health Day as well.

The day is meant to raise awareness about mental health issues, reduce stigmas surrounding mental illness, and encourage workplaces, institutions, and individuals to prioritize their mental health.

Got it? Okay, It's time for some real talk.

On World Mental Health Day, I focused on my mental health. I'm very attentive to my physical health. But honestly, both are equally important, and I forget that sometimes.

Friends, the previous week, I was a whole hot mess, and no one knew. That's what we do right--suffer in silence? By the 5th day, depression was settling in like it had found a new home and was never leaving. Then came the weekend, and I could hardly get out of bed. Yes, I'll admit, a few tears were shed.

Is this you? Is this your teen?

The following tips, backed by research, are what helped me:

Get out in nature - can help you feel calmer, more hopeful, and less alone. In Japan "forest bathing" is a thing. The idea is to get connected with your natural surroundings by experiencing the different smells, sounds, and textures.

Come to terms with what you are feeling:

Is it sadness, fear, shame, loneliness, anger, or something else? We don’t always know why we’re feeling that way. Call it out: “I’m feeling really irritable today but also sad.” Then, reassure yourself in the same way you would a small child.

Talk to someone:

Talk with someone you trust. Talking may change the way you see and feel about the situation, in ways you find helpful.

Write: As long and as much as you need to, write down in a notebook everything you are feeling. An excellent form of therapy. Revisit it when you are in a better headspace.

Positive affirmations:

Try repeating something positive about yourself to a few times each day. (This is sometimes called a “mantra”. “I am on a journey, growing and developing”, for example.) Research shows this reduces negative thoughts and feelings.

Sleep is major:

Develop a relaxing bedtime routine to help you start winding down before you actually go to sleep. Avoid TV and mobile screens.

Get moving:

Our bodies and our minds are connected, so looking after ourselves physically also helps us prevent problems with our mental health (it works the other way around, too).

Plan things to look forward to:

Life throws so much at us. During hard times, we may feel hopeless and not have the energy to plan for the future. Having things to look forward to, including activities we find fun, can help us cope with difficult situations. Whether it's something small like planning to go to Starbucks or something big, like a concert, the important thing is to plan.

You can do this, friends.

Take care of your mental health.

L. B. Anne

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