May is Mental Health Awareness month. It seems appropriate to acknowledge that we all experience mentally challenging days every now and then. It is also a good time to support those with mental health disorders and remember to be kind to all; after all, many of us are fighting silent battles of our own.
Here’s our Top 10 List of effective tools to help you feel stronger, happier, and hopeful as you navigate your daily life.
1. Make Connections
Prioritizing social connections helps decrease stress and boost your well-being. Social connection can be anything from a heartfelt conversation with a trusted friend, to simply a laugh-out-loud email shared from a co-worker.
2. Stay Positive
While simple for some, it is not easy for most of us. There is an inherent negativity bias in humans, and this can get in our way of thinking positively. The bad news we hear every day makes us more susceptible to negative or worry-filled thoughts that ultimately drag us down. Research suggests fostering optimism by envisioning a positive future, looking for the silver lining in a negative situation, and practicing gratitude consistently.
3. Get Up & Move
Moving your body on a regular basis has been linked to preventing heart disease, improving your sleep, increasing energy levels, and decreasing stress, anger, and tension. Let’s encourage one another to get up and move our bodies so we can stay physically and mentally strong and healthy! Add in nature to this formula, and you will feel even stronger!
4. Help Others
Research shows that those who prioritize helping others experience less depression, greater contentment, and an overall better state of mind. A simple phone call to a friend may benefit your well-being; or look for an organization that needs volunteers. Giving back to worthy causes benefits both the volunteer and the organization being served.
5. Make Sleep a Priority
In our incredibly busy world, sleep may seem like a waste of time to some; however, it is incredibly important to reset your systems. Research indicates that you’re more likely to succeed at your tasks and enjoy better memory and fewer mood swings if you’re getting quality sleep.
6. Create Joy & Satisfaction
When was the last time you did something just for the fun of it? Adding small pleasures throughout your week can boost your ability to bounce back from stress, solve problems, and think flexibly. And don’t forget to laugh like a child!
7. Eat Healthily
Striving to eat well-balanced meals and working on developing a positive relationship with the food you’re eating leads to reduced stress and an overall healthy mind and body.
8. Take Care of Your Spirit
Research confirms that connecting to whatever you consider meaningful and holy will lead to more happiness and contentment. Try to really connect to what you find meaningful whether that be God, yourself, nature, art, or kindness and strive to be in the moment.
9. Prepare for Difficult Times
We all experience challenging circumstances. Proactively identifying which coping skills work best for you will help you manage and grow through these tough times. Some ways to deal better with difficulties can be journaling; making an action plan; and shifting your thinking.
10. Stay Open to Professional Help
If you feel like you are experiencing problems that are stopping you from functioning well or feeling healthy, it may be time to gain support from a professional. Outreach Teen & Family Services is your community resource! We want every child, teen, and family in the communities we serve to thrive.
Outreach Teen & Family Services  is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer programs to youth ages 5 to 21, parents and families, in a welcoming, supportive environment. 412-561-5405. This column is partially underwritten by the Mt. Lebanon Police Association.