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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Ways to engage in self-care and prioritize your mental heath:

1. Keep A Journal

Sometimes, you’ve just got to vent—but you might not always feel comfortable turning to a friend or family member. Journaling is a great way to purge at the end of each day, so you can wake up and leave yesterday’s troubles behind.

2. Get More Sleep

Depression and anxiety can definitely make feel hard, but it’s important to get some restorative rest. Your mind and body need that time to reset, and waking up tired will only bring you down. Give yourself a set bedtime and put your phone out of reach so you won’t stay up. If your thoughts keep you awake, try a sleep story or some melatonin.

3. Distance Yourself From Toxic People

It is ok to distance yourself from negative people. There is nothing wrong with feeling like you no longer benefit from a friendship, but you need to be proactive in making sure you surround yourself with people who bring you joy.

4. Express Gratitude For Close Friends

Sometimes, letting a friend know you care and are grateful for them can open up a warm conversation. Remind loved ones that you love them and don’t be surprised when they express similar gratitude for you in return. 

5. Find A Creative Outlet

Find a new hobby. Whether you chose to use it as a reward for doing well or a safe activity to turn to when you need a pick-me-up. Maybe it’s art, photography, web design or a new sport. Finding the right outlet makes dealing with a hard day a thousand times more bearable.

6. Book A Therapy Appointment

If you feel like this is necessary for you, consider booking an appointment with a therapist, whether in-person or virtually. Don’t be afraid to shop around until you find your perfect match. The right therapist will really get you, and want to help you grow and thrive.

7. Take Up Meditation

Take at least take a few moments each day to calm yourself, clear your mind and practice intentional breathing. When your thoughts are racing and your heart is pounding, this grounding activity can make all the difference.

8. Keep A Gratitude List

Write down the things you’re thankful for! Make yourself note at least one per day, and you’ll be surprised to find that (even on your absolute worst days) there is always something small and beautiful to bring you joy.

9. Drink More Water

Your physical health really is connected to your mental health. You might also consider re-evaluating your diet and making the healthy choices that feel right for you. Don’t force yourself into something strict; just be kind to your body and give it the fuel it needs.

10. Find Someone Who Can Relate

Sometimes, venting to a friend about your depression makes you feel worse. Feeling understood makes exploring your own emotions even easier, and perhaps you can offer others comfort in return.

11. Practice Breathing Techniques

This one’s right up there with meditating. When you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, having a few tried-and-true breathing techniques to turn to can make all the difference. They’ll help you stabilize your body and mind, allowing you to get to a calmer place.

12. Speak Positively About Yourself

It’s not enough to just think it. Repeat positive mantras over and over every morning—or, whenever you need a boost. Here’s an example: I am worthy. I am loved. I am doing the best I can. I am stronger than what ails me. I am getting better every day.

13. Let Go Of Regrets & Anger

You will be forever tense if you carry anger, sadness and regrets with you. Let it go. Forgive and forget, and allow yourself the serenity that comes with not being plagued by negative memories.

14. Get Some Sunshine

Vitamin D is real. Try to get outside each day, whether it’s a long walk or just a few minutes sitting with your pet on the deck. It might seem like it wouldn’t make a huge difference, but you’d be surprised what fresh air can do for you.

15. Hit The Gym

No, you don’t need to stress about your body. Just get moving! Laying in bed all day often seems like the most tempting option when you’re struggling, but it will only make you feel worse in the long run. Go for a long run or a short walk, or play a sport.

16. Disconnect From Social Media

If you’re one of those people who suffer from FOMO, depression or imposter syndrome brought on by the fake world of Instagram, delete the app or at the very least, limit your use of it. If you can’t stay away, do a follower clear-out: Unfollow any accounts that stress you out, and only follow ones that bring you joy and make you feel good.

17. Pet Your Dog

When you spend time with animals, your stress hormones lower and your happiness hormones skyrocket. Perhaps even consider an emotional support animal to help you while traveling and in public.

18. Help Others

Volunteer, support a friend or aid a family member and you’ll definitely feel great about yourself after. You are so caring, compassionate and generous with your time! Knowing you’ve helped someone else will definitely squash any negative thoughts about yourself.

19. Consider a medication consultation

If and only if you feel comfortable, consult your doctor about taking a prescription to help balance everything you’re dealing with mentally. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, and often, the right meds can work wonders.

20. Communicate With Family

Bring people you live with "in the know" with your mental health. Letting others know allows them to care for you properly. It never hurts to have someone else looking out for you.

Dr. Debra Brosius Licensed Clinical Psychologist with over 20 years of experience.

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