Taking charge of your mental health doesn’t have to mean drastic lifestyle changes. In fact, the smaller the shift, the more likely it is you’ll do it. Big, lofty goals are often unrealistic and quickly fizzle out.
For example, you wouldn’t start training for a marathon by running 26.2 miles every day; you would start by walking or jogging a mile or two at a time and build your way up as your legs got stronger and your endurance increased.
You may be surprised at how the smallest of actions can cause a huge, positive reaction in your mind and body.
We’ve compiled 25 simple things you can do in May for Mental Health Awareness Month and year-round. These actions and gestures will benefit your health and others, because doing good for others can do wonders for your own self.
- Reach out to a neighbor you don’t know. A friendly “Hello, I don’t think we’ve met yet,” can make their day — and yours!
- Reconnect with a friend. Call, text or mail them a card.
- Host a dinner for friends, peers and other people you admire.
- Send a “thinking of you card” to someone in your life who needs a pick-me-up.
- Start that book you’ve been wanting to read.
- Listen to a podcast about mental health, leadership or other self-help topics.
- Watch a movie or documentary about mental health. Share the film with your friends and family to introduce them to mental health. “Silver Linings Playbook” and “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” are a couple blockbuster movies to consider, and “Out of the Dark,” “Facing Suicide” and “Heal” are a few documentaries to add to your watch list.
- Subscribe to daily affirmations. Try apps such as I Am, Shine and ThinkUp.
- Define healthy boundaries for yourself.
- Volunteer at a local organization.
- Start a new hobby or pick one back up.
- Offer to pet sit or babysit for a friend who needs a break.
- Set up a meal train for a friend facing a challenging time.
- Schedule a wellness check-up with your doctor.
- Attend a religious service.
- Organize a “clean up the neighborhood” day.
- Learn a new joke and try it on friends, peers and coworkers.
- Take a nap. Sleep is critical to your mental health!
- Start journaling.
- Unfollow or hide social media accounts that aren’t relevant to you or bring you down. A virtual housekeeping on your accounts can be refreshing and invigorating.
- Earn your Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certification.
- Train to become a MHFA Instructor.
- Encourage your employer to offer MHFA at Work.
- Reach out to local organizations about offering local training to the community.
- Follow MHFA on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and the National Council for Mental Wellbeing on LinkedIn, for the latest news and happenings.
Make your mental and physical health a priority by taking these actions. And when mental health is top of mind, you can also spot and support someone having a challenging time with their mental wellbeing or substance use.
Mental Health First Aid USA has trained more than 3 million people across the country to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges. And we’re not done yet. We want everyone in America to have at least one Mental Health First Aider in their close circle of friends, family and peers. Every 1 in 15 people should be certified to identify, understand and respond to signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use challenges. Together, we will reach millions more and help others #BeThe1in15.