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Health and Wellness

May Is Mental Health Month So Here Are 4 Activities To Try To Take Care Of Yourself

When we talk about health it is important to not just focus on our physical health, but on our mental health, too.

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May Is Mental Health Month So Here Are 4 Activities To Try To Take Care Of Yourself
Meredith Flanagan

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Mental Health Month. Since 1949, the United States has recognized May as the observance of Mental Health Awareness. How appropriate since it is the beginning of Spring and the renewal of the brightness of the sunshine and the warmth of the summer months. We have all kinds of programs, facilities, and workouts to address physical health, but we tend to dismiss or even avoid mental health. It is time for longer days and increased activity. Here's to our Mental Health!

Smell the Flowers

Megan Carmen

Spring is in the air! The fresh breeze, colorful flowers and birds chirping are reminders of the change of season. Take a step outside and allow yourself to enjoy the newness that Spring unfolds. Our minds and bodies enjoy the warmth of the sunshine and the smells of the flowers blooming. The American Psychological Association confirms that sunshine is good for our mental health.

Take a Long Walk

Giphy

Yes, it's true. Exercise is good for you! Physical movement actually releases endorphins in the brain. These endorphins have many functions, primarily they activate the feeling of "pleasure", happy signals. Exercise does not have to be rigorous to release these endorphins. A simple, casual walk can have the same effect as an intense aerobic workout. So stop making excuses and get up and move!

Step Back, Make Time for Relaxation

Giphy

Relaxation is necessary for the body to rejuvenate. Relaxation varies depending on personality. Some enjoy quiet meditation, yoga, stretching. Others enjoy a solitary activity like reading. While others enjoy playing such as group activity or sport.

Unfortunately, our society does not put enough emphasis on relaxation. We seem to be caught in a cycle of over-scheduling and over-achieving. The brain and the body need time to step away from structure and routine. There is an old saying that indicates there is a time for work AND a time for play. Relaxation decreases the amount of stress individuals experiences and therefore decreases the likelihood of additional health issues associated with stress. The benefits of relaxation impact heart health, blood pressure, anxiety, and overall mood.

Don't Forget Your Brain Needs Rest Too

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Sleep. What can I say? Getting the correct amount of sleep is vital for learning, processing, memory retention and recall and it restores the body's energy. The amount of sleep necessary depends on an individual's age, but it is safe to say that our habits do not support this. The American Pediatric Association stipulates that school aged children should get at least 10 hours of sleep and teens should have at least 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night. Hmmmmm....raise your hand if that happens?!?!?! It's time to shut off Netflix and our cellular devices and let our brains rest.

I have to admit that living with a Mental Health Professional is an added bonus! My mom has always been insistent that we take time to address our mental health needs as much as our physical and intellectual needs. Balance is the key. If you think you may need some assistance, don't hesitate to ask. OU has a wonderful Center available to students and can be found on the 3rd floor of Hudson Health Center. They are available on a drop-in basis, check them out.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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