Be Real: May is Mental Health Awareness Month
If you’ve been reading my blog each month, you know I’ve been going through some grief. This seems to be a theme now – everywhere I look, I see others talking about it and how grieving is such a personal process. Or, maybe now that I understand it, I just notice grieving all around me. That’s probably more likely – we don’t tend to notice things until we are ready.
This May, I wanted to jump into the month with some goals for myself. I need to come to terms with my grief and I feel I have in many ways. I know it will come and go – like the passing of tides – but I need to find a way to move forward in my own life… we shouldn’t stop living, we just need to find a new way to live, right?
So, when I started reading about mental health month, it sort of clicked. I need to set up specific times for myself to focus on my mental health.
Finding that time
For me, this comes in the form of taking moments for me – a hard task when you are balancing work, two kids, sports, and still keeping up with the housework. Oh, and spending time with your spouse/partner.
However, if I am being honest with myself, there are ways I can fit in a little ‘me time’ – maybe not every day, but most days. It is possible!
Then, the next step, of course, is deciding what type of me time I want. What would have the biggest impact on my mental health and is also something that I can make happen?
I’ve decided to do two things that make me slow down – taking baths and cooking.
I have never really been a bath taker – I come from a long line of shower people. You get in, you get it done, and you get out. No lingering in there – what a waste of water!
I still agree – baths can be a waste of water – however, I can also gain some clarity and quiet my mind. I recently read an article on Epsom salt baths and how they can soothe muscles and relax your body. Also Epsom with magnesium sulfate could help add magnesium to your body – a mineral many of us are lacking. While I do not think this magnesium theory has been fully proven, I like to think that the bath is helping my body and my mind.
Second: cooking. I love to cook. Following instructions or even winging it can really take your mind off of your stress and can help you just focus on the task at hand. That’s soothing to me for some reason!
I have been working to add more plant-based meals to my family’s diet because we were in a food rut and also because I want my kids to be willing to try nearly anything! And, I want them to know that plant-based meals are just as delicious as your typical children’s menu.
Our son, Alex, has recently told us he wants to be a vegetarian, and while I wonder if this is just a passing fancy that will pass more quickly when he realizes pepperoni is not vegetarian, I figure I will give him a good show of vegetarian-style meals.
And, it’s so much fun (for me) to learn a bunch of new dishes to add to my usual dinner repertoire!
Spreading the love
There are so many people out there with real mental health issues and I don’t want to even remotely suggest that taking a bath or cooking could be the solution for everyone!
**Note: If you or someone who know suffers from mental health issues, talk to someone. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hotline is answered Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., by trained staff and volunteers: (800) 950-6264 (NAMI) or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in a crisis or are considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at (800) 273-8255 (TALK) and speak with a trained crisis counselor.**
However, for those of us who do not have severe issues and who feel themselves diminishing or becoming hardened by stress, taking time every week (or day if you can) to do something strictly for yourself can make a huge difference.
And, if you have friends who you notice are getting the crud (cranky, tired, etc), it is a great gift to simply give them a bag of Epsom salts and maybe a suggestion to take some time for themselves.
I call it the crud – you know when you start to feel icky or mean-spirited because you just can’t handle or manage everything. The crud comes on when I am not taking care of myself. And, I’m sure you can recall instances where the crud has come onto you! And, when that happens, it tells me that I need to pause, make a ‘me time’ plan, and renew my positive energy. That is a sure way to kick the crud to the curb.
So, what do you like to do for your me time?