Be Kind to Your Mind
By Mia Sherin
We should always be prioritizing our mental health, 24/7 and 365 days a year. But May as Mental Health Awareness is the perfect opportunity to check in with ourselves, see how we are feeling, and take actionable steps to be kind to our minds. Think of this as a moment not to just acknowledge that mental health is an important part of our wellbeing, but to actively make a game plan of how you are going to take care of yours.
Good habits that start with the physical can have the power to feed your brain. Making a habit of going to the gym is great if you’re hoping to get in shape, but it is also proven that exercise boosts your mood. Not checking your phone in the morning or staying on it late at night may be directly beneficial for your sleep, but it also soothes anxiety (and sleep is critical for mental health as well!). This is all to say that good habits are the perfect first step in building positive mental health practices, and we are here to provide a few resources on how to get started.
- If you want to practice mindfulness…
Try a meditation app, like Calm or MyLife! Both are free but offer paid subscriptions if you’d like to access more options. I love using both apps for guided meditations that can be directed towards different goals, whether you want to focus on calming anxiety, focus, or gratitude. I also love the music feature in the Calm app that I often use to help me rest if I’m struggling to fall asleep.
- If you want to improve your productivity…
Try the Forest app or the Pomodoro technique! Forest is an adorable app you can download on your phone that allows you to plant a tree when you start working, and if you use your phone/leave the app, your cute, tiny tree will die and it’s very sad. This app incentivizes productivity because your tree will grow as you work and you can cultivate a forest of focus.
The Pomodoro technique is a scientifically proven method that involves working for 25 minutes and taking 5 minute breaks. If you find that you struggle to stay focused, just set a goal of 25 minutes and it will feel more achievable! Productivity is incredibly important for mental health because, although we are all guilty of procrastination, it does use up mental energy without taking tasks off of our plates, increasing stress levels. Being productive today is a way to be kind to your mind tomorrow.
- If you want to exercise mindfully…
Try yoga or another fitness regimen of your choice! Exercise is a critical way to show your brain some love, because you are literally flooding your body with endorphins, otherwise known as good vibe juices. I personally love the Down Dog yoga app, but there are plenty of wonderful options out there that make working out fun and accessible!
- If you want to get off your phone and do something with your hands…
Color, paint, and be creative! Although this is not discussed enough, creativity is one of our basic needs as humans: It gives us purpose, gives our mind an opportunity to explore and discover, and it is the perfect way to center ourselves in the present moment. This is my personal favorite coloring book that I enjoy using at the beach, to relax before bed, or if I have a few minutes free and want to avoid looking at my phone.
However you choose to spend the month of May, meet yourself with grace and compassion. Mental health is not a one size fits all situation, and finding ways of healing are unique to everyone. But try to be kind to your mind, and encourage others to do the same.