How to Focus On Your Mental Health for Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month! Many individuals are unaware of how to spot mental health issues in themselves and others, as well as how to improve overall mental well being (check out my video on this topic). We’ll cover a few signs in this article, as well as a few ways to focus more on your mental health this month and throughout the year.

What is Mental Health?

Mental health is our “emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” It can be impacted by our finances, environment, family, work, experiences, and life in general. This area of our well being deserves attention no matter where we (or our loved ones) are in life, whether a child or retired.

Thirty percent of adults will experience anxiety in their lifetime, but, of course, mental health isn’t just limited to anxiety. It’s believed over 21% of adults in the United States will experience a mood disorder in their lives, for example. And eating disorders “affect at least 9% of the population worldwide.”

How Can You Recognize Problems with Mental Health?

Depressed man

Mental health issues can range from burnout to borderline personality disorder (BPD) and anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Biology, life experiences, and family history can all be attributed to mental disorders or mental health problems.

Unlike physical ailments like a cold or a broken arm, mental health issues aren’t always apparent, especially if the individual is working to hide them from others or even themselves. It’s easy to get fooled into thinking that, “This is normal.” especially if it is a problem we have lived with for some time.

However, there are quite a few signs that can point to something being wrong with our mental well being, especially early on. They include:

  • Sleeping too much
  • Sleeping too little
  • Fatigue
  • Pulling away from family and friends
  • Pulling away or lack of enjoyment from previously enjoyed activities
  • Disassociation
  • Pain and aches
  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • Mood swings
  • Increased anger
  • Increased anxiety
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating, or forgetfulness
  • Thoughts of self harm
  • Problems performing self care or daily tasks
  • A general feeling of sadness
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Changes in appetite including eating too much, too little, or stress eating
  • GI problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sense of danger or doom
  • Nervous or irritable
  • Increased worry

How Can You Focus More On Your Mental Health?

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways you can focus more on your mental health or to encourage others to seek help. You could…

Stay Active

It has been found that those who stay active tend to have better mental health and lower rates of mental health disorders. Exercise can improve mood, concentration, and, of course, our physical health. Even just a walk outside can do wonders for your well being.

Improve Eating Habits

Improving your eating habits is another way to cut down on stress and mental health problems. If you’re not getting the right nutrients or vitamins, it could be playing quite a number on your brain and body. This can take a toll, especially over time. By focusing on healthier eating habits, you can increase your concentration, cut down on anxiety, and improve your health.

It’s also recommended that you cut back on alcohol as it is not a good way to manage mental health issues and could make them worse.

Have a Support Network

This is truly helpful for a number of people with mental health issues. It’s important to have people you can rely on, even in your darkest of moments. Whether you’re going through a breakup or are having a panic attack, it’s helpful to have a family member or friend with whom you can share your feelings. A support group can also be a great option here.

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness, like breathing exercises and meditation, can absolutely make a difference in our day to day lives, even if you don’t think you’re suffering from a mental health issue! It can help us become more aware of our surroundings and even more appreciative. Breathing exercises in particular can calm or even stop an anxiety or panic attack.

Seek Professional Help

Sadly, sometimes, our mental health can prevent us from making the very changes we need to make in order to improve our mental well being. This cycle can cause the issues to become worse and even severe over time. You could be stressed over work and stress eating. Then you’re suddenly stressed because you’re over eating on top of your work concerns, making it even more difficult to stop the cycle. It’s vital, then, to recognize when you need outside assistance.

Seeking professional help from your doctor, a therapist, or a psychiatrist can absolutely help put you on track for improved mental health. They can recommend mental and physical exercises and life changes as well as medication if necessary to assist you. They’re also there to listen and help you work through any mental health problems or concerns you have, hopefully getting to the root causes of the issue.

Mental health, although a stigma for decades, is getting the attention it deserves. Whether it’s Mental Health Month or not, your well being deserves and needs attention. If you’re suffering from any of the issues above, or you believe a loved one is, it’s important to take action sooner rather than later.

Is stress, anxiety, or other mental issues taking over your life? It may be time to seek help. What strategies do you use to maintain good mental health? Please share in the comments!