May is Mental Health Month and Mental Health America has chosen the theme “Pathways to Wellness” for 2013. Wellness refers to maintaining a balance of healthy physical, mental, and social well-being. Wellness is more than just NOT being sick; having a wellness plan can actually prevent illness and shorten the duration of an illness after its onset.
Stress can wreak havoc on your mental health. Unfortunately, due to work, home, and social obligations, everyone is at risk of being stressed at some point. Managing and reducing stress not only elevates your mood, it can also fortify your immune system. In honor of Mental Health Month, start down your own path to wellness by trying some of the following stress-reduction tips.
- Exercise: Physical activity releases excess tension and breathes much needed oxygen into cells, reducing the overall feeling of stress. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense activity per week (30 minutes/day, 5 days/week) plus biweekly strength training. Mass in Motion offers ideas for becoming more active, and activities for people with disabilities, older adults, and pregnant women. Find an activity that you love.
- Eat Well: Everyone knows that eating healthy food helps reduce excess weight, but did you know that a healthy diet can reduce your chances of developing diseases like diabetes, stroke, and heart disease? Mass in Motion wants you to “Eat Better” and provides tips on proper serving sizes, how to make healthy choices when dining out, and tips for parents because good nutrition starts at home. Follow @MassinMotion on Twitter for more healthy tips.
- Sleep: According to the CDC, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night and children need even more. Most people don’t get enough, which can lead to weight gain, illness and fatigue, none of which are conducive to good mental health. The CDC and National Sleep Foundation recommend going to bed and waking at the same time daily, maintaining a quiet and relaxing bedroom, and avoiding large meals close to bedtime to optimize sleep. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, keep a sleep diary to help identify patterns. The Department of Public Health blog also offers some tips for better sleep.
- Have fun! Making time to participate in leisure activities may sound like added stress, but research suggests that regularly making time for yourself and what you love makes you better equipped to handle stressful situations. Cook, meditate, call a friend, create or experience art, read a book, listen to music, take a hike in a local state park… whatever makes you happy! You’ll reduce stress and be ready to take on anything that life tosses your way.
Visit www.helpguide.org for additional ways to manage stress.
Join the conversation: What do you do to reduce stress?
Tags: coping with stress, dealing with stressful situations, diet, exercise, handling stress, health, insomnia, lifestyle, MA, Mass, mass in motion, Massachusetts, meditation, Mental Health, Mental health Awareness Month, sleep, stress, stress reduction
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