Focus on your sanity this month

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month and there has never been a better time to open a dialogue about how stress, anxiety and depression can affect our lives as we all deal with the aftermath of a pandemic.

When you’re feeling anxious, according to Toni Perez, a mental health technician at NorthBay Healthcare, one tip is to establish a routine and stick to it.

“It’s like a plan of action for your day, week, or month. It’s an easy way to add more predictability to your life, which will help reduce uncertainty and, therefore, fear, ”she said.

“Another plan of action you might consider to improve your understanding of mental health is to get certified in mental health first aid. As with CPR, the goal of mental health first aid is to teach as many people as possible how to safely assist someone in the midst of a serious mental health problem. “

This international program focuses on an action plan called ALGEE, which stands for Access for Risk of Suicide or Harm. Do not listen judgmentally; Provide security and information; Encourage appropriate professional help. and promote self-help and other support strategies.

Mental health first aid training is often offered free of charge to everyone in the community, Perez said. Both the teen and adult courses provide skills to provide individuals with the knowledge and confidence they need to support a friend, family member, or co-worker who may be suffering from a mental illness or crisis such as suicide .

If the training sounds interesting, you can learn more at https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.

There are other ways to improve your own mental health offered by Mental Health America.

This may include keeping a journal so you can keep track of the times when you were grateful and jot down the tasks you were able to complete each day. Did something bother you? Leave everything out in the diary. Writing about disruptive experiences can reduce symptoms of depression.

Then send a thank you letter – not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate it. Written expressions of thanks are associated with increased happiness.

Making plans for a short vacation can also help you mentally relax. Whether you’re taking a camping trip or a getaway to the beach or lake, planning can give you something to look forward to.

Planning your week’s lunches in advance or choosing your clothes for the work week can give you more control over your life. You also save some time in the morning, which can reduce stress.

Do we need to add new activities to enjoy life more? Not always. Maybe it’s a good idea to soak up the joy in those we already have. Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life, according to Mental Health America. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.

Forgiving yourself is also helpful – even if it means forgiving the person who cut you off on your commute. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.

It might also be helpful to add some omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. They are associated with decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia, among other things. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseed, or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.

Try to keep your room cool at night so you can sleep well. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees.

After all, you’ll spend some quality time with furry friends. Experts know that time spent with animals lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases oxytocin, which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, meet up with a friend who does. This social contact with others should also help improve your mood.

Sally Wyatt is the PR coordinator for NorthBay Healthcare.

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