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In just a month, it will be National Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness for those living with mental health issues and help reduce the stigma against mental health that so many experience. Mental health is something so many can relate to, but unfortunately so many won't or aren't able to talk about. As one who has struggled for years with mental health issues, this time of year always comes with a big reminder that each and everyone of us (including myself) is more than enough.

When one feels low, the degree of low can vary from day to day, sometimes hour to hour. But what can one do when they find themselves struggling? For myself, there a few things that help me: going for a walk, picking up on of my hobbies, or write it out. I'll admit though, when feeling low, the motivation for doing anything can be lacking as well.

1) Meet yourself where you are -> on the struggle bus? That's okay! For those who struggle with mental health, every day (sometimes even every hour) can be different. Accept that you may be having a down day. Don't bury it. Suppressing your feelings only makes things worse in the long run, as things will continue to pile up, and eventually there will be an explosion of emotions.

2) Exercise -> Researchers have found that those who exercise have less number of low mental health days. Find that time of day that you can consistently exercise three times a week. For those who have done it before, but it didn't "work out," try again. Try again and then try yet again. Keep trying until you find something that works for you. I can't count how many times I've "started over." It doesn't matter how many times you "start over" with exercising, as long as you're moving. Enjoy group exercise classes? Jump in! Find that personal training works better for you? Find a personal trainer who will meet you where you are. Content to exercise by yourself? Do it.

3) Write it down -> Sometimes putting thought on paper (or a journal app) is just what's needed. Getting those thoughts out can help find the source (or the trigger) for what may be going on. It also helps clear the mind. Angry? Jot it down and tear it up. Depressed & feeling down? Jot it down and delete it. Do what works for you.

4) Do the opposite -> This is the hardest thing for me, but when feeling "in a funk" (as I usually say), the best thing to do and yet the hardest thing is to do the exact opposite of what you want to do. You may want to curl up and hide from the world, yet the best thing to do is just the opposite of that...reach out to a friend, talk it out, and then do something you know you enjoy. Enjoy reading? Grab that book you've been trying to read for the last month or so. Have a craft? Pick it up and let those creative juices flow.

5) Create a routine -> This is a big thing for me. If my morning routine is thrown off, even just a little, I feel like it throws my whole day off. Wake up late and feeling rushed? It's going to take me quite a while to level out and not feel stressed and like I got run over by the world piling one thing after another onto me.

6) Take a walk -> sometimes a quick walk around the block or around your office building is the boost needed. Spend time in nature. Listen to the birds chirping in the trees, the squirrels digging and eating away at the acorns, or the wind rustling through the leaves. Let the sounds of nature clear the thoughts raging a war on your mind. Even if it doesn't completely calm every depressing thought, it will help clear the majority of thoughts, enough to allow you to come back to where you need to be to take care of you.

7) Crank it up -> Love music? Time to crank it up loud. Turn on your favorite song and sing it out at the top of your lungs. Sometimes a drive while jamming to your favorite song helps level out the emotions and the thoughts. Turn it up when at home. Can you listen to music at work? Put in those earbuds and jam away.

8) Make a gratitude list -> write one to three things down that you are grateful for. Take it one step further and write down why you're thankful for it.

9) Visit with your doctor -> Make that appointment. Talk with your doctor. Get on that prescription. There is nothing wrong with accepting treatment for your mental health.

You do you. Meet yourself where you are. Do what works for you. Find the things that help you on a "down" day. No matter how difficult it may be, keep going.

You are more than worth


Mel F., Sarpy YMCA Membership Director