July is National Minority Mental Health Month. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, this month is meant to bring awareness to the struggles people of color face when it comes to mental health. These struggles include: lack of access to and/or stigma around mental health care, discrimination, or lack of awareness about mental health.
Taking care of your mental health is a lifelong journey, so here are five tips to keep in mind along the way.
Take time to do things you enjoy
Taking time for yourself is always important, no matter how busy you are. In fact, the more things you have to do, the more you should also focus on scheduling time to rest or do something fun.
During times when there isn’t much to do, taking time off might come naturally, but you’ll probably need to be more strategic about it when you don’t have much time to spare. Commit to these breaks and don’t let yourself work through them, even if you’re a little behind. They’re important to preventing burnout and exhaustion.
Connect with people in your community
Your community should ideally be a group of people you can rely on to support you. Often, this will include people who are similar to you and can understand your experiences. If you’re feeling isolated, take time to connect with your community and remind yourself that you’re not alone. Community members might also be good people to ask for advice about something that’s bothering you.
Change up your routine
If you feel stuck, changing up your routine can help clear your head or provide a new perspective. Doing something new is difficult, especially if you’re lacking energy and don’t feel like doing anything, but taking that first step is often the hardest: things get easier from there.
Take care of your body and mind
Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, so it’s important to pay attention to both of them. You don’t have to work out regularly or stick to a certain diet to have good physical health. Any exercise is better than none at all (being active and getting up to stretch if you’re sitting for a long time is helpful as well). Improving your diet can just involve making substitutions to existing dishes, cooking more often instead of eating out, or eating more fruits and vegetables.
Seek professional help if you have access to it
Seeing a therapist or a counselor isn’t necessary for everyone, but if you have access to professional mental health care, it can help you tackle things that are hard to deal with alone. The stigma around getting mental health care isn’t as strong as it used to be, but it’s still important to mention that needing help is never something to be ashamed of.
To learn more about how I’RAISE is improving mental health in schools, click here.