Mental Health And Its Everyday Heroes

Mental Health And Its Everyday Heroes

All mental health warriors are heroes, and their battle should be recognized, not hidden away.
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May is Mental Health Awareness Month… and I’m here to talk about heroes… and not the kind that wears capes.

Mental Health Awareness Month is not just about talking about the diseases that plague the minds of many (including yours truly.) Mental Health Awareness Month is not only about attempting to break the age-old stigma around mental health disorders and their effects on the survivors and their families. Mental Health Awareness Month is about saving lives. It’s about encouraging survivors and treating them like the real heroes that they are.

As someone with mental illness, I can personally relate to many of you who may be reading this article and being like “well I don’t feel like much of a hero.”

I don’t feel like a hero most days either… I’m like you, going through life sometimes still trying to find motivation to get out of bed. However, I want to tell you right now that if you live with ANY mental illness- depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, or any other mental illness then you ARE a hero, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

You are a fighter, plain and simple. It’s unfair to act as though you are anything but that.

People who don’t have mental illness don’t understand how it feels to live inside our minds. They’ll never understand what it’s like to lay in bed until 2 pm (or later… yes, we’re all guilty) waiting for a real reason to get up in the morning. Without a reason, we struggle to even breathe, much less get up to wash our hair and brush our teeth, get dressed, eat, and more. So every day that you get up and do those things… one or all… YOU are a fighter, and YOU are a hero.

But you are not a loser or weak if you decide that “today is not your day.”

In the famous words of Abby Lee Miller from her short series, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, if “today is not your day” then you are still a fighter; you are still strong, and you are still worthy of trying again tomorrow.

Mental illness isn’t one size fits all.

It’s also not the same every single day- if it was, then we’d have it all figured out by now. If you can’t make yourself get out of bed or eat that last bite of your sandwich, then that doesn’t make you a failure. That makes you human, and that’s okay because that’s what you are. I don’t expect you to be perfect, and neither should ANYONE else. So you do you today and everyday… no matter what “you” can do today, tomorrow, or any other day.

Mental illness is real, and I refuse to settle for it remains a stigma.

People who don’t battle mental illness will never understand what it’s like to live under the stigma that if you have a mental health condition that you are crazy. They will never know how crushing that can be to someone who already struggles with low self-esteem thanks to those killer voices in your head there to remind you that “you’re not worthy.” (Those are lies… you shouldn’t believe them EVER.)

So today, I stand up and say that I’m not okay being looked at as someone who’s crazy. I refuse to allow my mental illness to be something that holds me back, and I refuse to allow my illness to be swept under the rug because it’s something people are afraid to talk about.

Mental Health Awareness Month is what you make it, and I challenge you to make it about you because you deserve it.

When you have mental illness, it’s easy to let the world go by and hide behind the scenes. However; YOU are a person, and even if you don’t like being in the spotlight I challenge you to give yourself a break.

Splurge on yourself, take yourself out for ice cream, or go see that new movie that you’ve been dying to see. You deserve to be happy.

You deserve to live your life to the fullest, and during Mental Health Awareness Month, I dare you to be your best self; live your best life, and prove to others that you are not down because you have a mental illness, but instead, you are stronger, a fighter, and a WINNER.

Love yourself this month and every month; I challenge you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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100 Ways To Practice Self-Care In Your Everyday Life, In 20 Minutes Or Less

Simple ways to start taking care of yourself.

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Life is overwhelming and distracting so it's easy to forget about yourself sometimes, but practicing small self-care acts is easy. Making time for yourself every day isn't selfish and is really good for your mental health. I think it's important for everyone to spend time doing things that make them happy and more calm, even if you only dedicate 20 minutes each day. Putting yourself first can lead to growth so many other aspects of your life.

Obviously, each person is allowed to practice self-care in their own unique way, but here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Do something new. 

2. Make a list of things you need to get done that week. 

3. Drink some hot tea. 

4. Go for a walk on a scenic trail.

5. Paint your nails.

6. Have a good laugh.

7. Buy yourself flowers.

8. Light a candle.

9. Do some tidying up.

10. Don't feel bad for saying 'no.'

11. Listen to music.

12. Slow down.

13. Drink a smoothie.

14. Run mindless errands.

15. Write down your goals for the week.

16. Talk to someone about the future.

17. Wake up early and get coffee. 

18. Take care of a plant. 

19. Take a bubble bath. 

20. Give yourself a compliment.

21. Give a stranger a compliment.

22. Watch a movie.

23. Put your phone down.

24. Declutter your personal space.

25. Go to bed early. 

26. Pray or meditate. 

27. Go for a drive. 

28. Make it a habit to stargaze. 

29. Read a book. 

30. Read poems. 

31. Sing loudly. 

32. Make a list of things you're grateful for. 

33. Drink a lot of water. 

34. Put on make-up for no reason.

35. Watch funny videos. 

36. Take a deep breath. 

37. Distance yourself from negativity. 

38. Unfollow people you don't care to follow on social media. 

39. Have a pajama day. 

40. Read an inspirational book. 

41. Call your parents/ loved ones. 

42. Donate old clothing. 

43. Dedicate a day out of the week to not eating meat. 

44. Do a fun craft or DIY project. 

45. Put on a face mask and relax. 

46. Do a small workout. 

47. Take a power nap. 

48. Listen to a podcast. 

49. Open a window. 

50. Open your curtains in the morning to let in natural light. 

51. Make your bed. 

52. Cook dinner instead of eating out. 

53. Play/ cuddle with an animal. 

54. At the end of the day, think of all the positive things that happened.

55. Moisturize. 

56. Buy a comforting blanket. 

57. Give someone a hug. 

58. Create a vision board. 

59. Have some alone time.

60. Enjoy the sun on your skin. 

61. Dance like nobody is watching.

62. Walk in the rain every once in a while. 

63. Drive with the windows down. 

64. Give someone a gift for no reason. 

65. Get a massage. 

66. Do something that gets your adrenaline running. 

67. Spend the day at the library or a book store. 

68. Organize your work space/ binders. 

69. Spend a weekend in. 

70. Recognize hard work and reward yourself. 

71. Sign up for a work out class. 

72. Eat lunch with a friend. 

73. Spend the day helping others. 

74. Get your hair done. 

75. Have a good cry. 

76. Use sticky notes. 

77. Color code your planner. 

78. Print out pictures and hang them up. 

79. Hang motivational quotes on your mirror and read them when you get ready. 

80. Do random acts of kindness. 

81. Buy fuzzy socks. 

82. Redecorate or rearrange furniture. 

83. Be present. 

84. Set a new years resolution. 

85. Make a bucket list. 

86. Stretch in the morning. 

87. Watch an interesting documentary. 

88. Make a music playlist.

89. Watch the sunrise or sunset. 

90. Explore somewhere new.

91. Be slow to respond to negativity. 

92. Have a game night with friends. 

93. Buy concert tickets. 

94. Have a nightly routine before bed. 

95. Eat your favorite dessert. 

96. Do something you've been putting off. 

97. Invest in essential oils. 

98. Manage your finances. 

99. Buy a new outfit. 

100. Make your own gratitude list. 

Try at least one of these every week and see how you feel! I guarantee you will notice a difference in the way you are living your life.

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Meditation: The Good, The Bad, and The Benefits

Is meditation effective? Is it for me? Should I try it? If you want answers to these questions, they are right below.

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The definition of meditation is different for anyone that you ask, but overall, it is used to clear the brain of any negative thoughts and calm the body down. Many people do it before bed to improve sleep or when they wake up to start their day with a positive attitude. Many religions and cultures incorporate meditation in its practices because of the many healing properties it has.

However, even after being proved as beneficial many times, many people still see no point in meditation and many people believe there is no reason to do meditation in a private setting. However, the many benefits of meditation outweigh the negatives and I am here to hopefully persuade you into incorporating this into your daily schedule.

First, meditation reduces stress and controls anxiety. Stress reduction is the reason a lot of people start meditation. mental and physical stress cause increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This produces many of the harmful effects of stress, such as the release of inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines. These effects can disrupt sleep, promote depression and anxiety, increase blood pressure and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking. A type of meditation, called mindful meditation, can reduce the inflammation, which was proved by an 8-week study by ScienceDirect.com.

Research has shown that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

It also reduced symptoms of anxiety disorders, such as phobias, social anxiety, paranoid thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and panic attacks, proven from that same 8 week study. It also helps control job-related anxiety in high-pressure work environments. One study found that a meditation program reduced anxiety in a group of nurses.

Secondly, meditation promotes emotional health. Some forms of mediation can lead to an improved sense of self and a more positive outlook on life. One study shows that symptoms of depression had decreased in adults when they incorporated meditation into their daily schedule by John Hopkins University researchers.

The inflammation-promoting chemicals called cytokines that we talked about before can affect mood, which lead to depression. Like we said earlier, these cytokines were reduced due to mediation. As I said before, meditation aims to get rid of negative thoughts in the brain in that period that you are doing it, but when you aren't it helps you recognize those thoughts and get rid of them in a healthy way. Meditation is important in practice, but it helps a lot in your day to day life.

Many people believe that meditation is pointless and there is no tangible evidence that supports the physiological benefits of meditation, however, I know it has changed my life and has made me a lot more of an optimist and I hope that this helped you into trying out meditation and hopefully incorporate it into your life.

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