Our mental health influences how we think and behave each day — affecting our ability to cope with stress, foster relationships, overcome challenges, and recover from setbacks.
Mental or emotional health problems can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, and are more common than one may think. In fact, 43.8 million Americans (one in five adults) experience mental illness.
But despite how common mental health issues are, many people make don’t make an effort to improve their situation. Instead, they simply hope things will improve naturally or just accept the “new status quo.” Unfortunately, neglecting mental health can lead to an array of health issues — from sleeping problems and weight gain to heart attacks and stroke!
Just as it takes effort to maintain physical health, it also takes effort to maintain mental health. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered:
Don’t isolate yourself.
While you may try to improve your mental health on your own, it’s still important to connect with others. We naturally crave companionship, so exchange a smile or say hello to strangers who cross your path. Consider joining new activities or special interest groups to meet others with common interests. Call an old friend or loved one and schedule some time together, even if it’s simply running errands or hitting the gym.
Speaking of hitting the gym, physical activity releases endorphins — powerful chemicals that naturally lift your mood and provide you with some added energy. You don’t need to exercise until you’re soaked in sweat to reap the benefits either— even just walking around our Wellness Trail can help you relieve stress and improve your sleep quality.
Manage stress levels.
What happens when you mix family gatherings, busy after-school schedules, your 9-5, and a social life? Stress. Not all stressors can be avoided and, as such, it’s important to keep your stress levels under control. Make time for yourself and do things that YOU want to do. Watch a funny movie, read a new book, get coffee with a friend — whatever makes you feel good, do it. Different relaxation techniques are also effective in keeping stress levels in check, like mindfulness meditation or yoga.
Get enough rest.
Sacrificing sleep may seem like a smart move at the time — if you stay up later, you can get more things done, right? Wrong. Even skipping out on a few hours each night can take a toll on your mental health. Aim for at least seven hours of quality sleep a night. Put away all screens (phone down, TV off) early in the night, make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet, and spend the last hour before bed doing a calming activity, like reading by a soft light or taking a warm bath.
Seek professional help.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we cannot pull ourselves out of a slump alone — and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. At Kirby Medical Center, we provide mental health counseling services to the Piatt County community. Our Licensed Clinical Social Worker works with many individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, self-harm, and more.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, seek help immediately. You can reach a mental health counselor at Kirby Medical Center by calling (217) 762-6241 or dial 911 for immediate assistance.