After a year of loss and isolation from living during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever before. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (51.5 million in 2019). More locally, nearly half (49.4%) of Beach Cities adults reported experiencing stress yesterday according to the Gallup National Health & Well-being Index (WBI) 2020. This percentage is higher than national numbers with Gallup reporting that stress and worry shot up as a result of the pandemic. In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Beach Cities Health District is encouraging residents to be kind to themselves and to each other. Here’s a few things that you can do to start.
- Eating healthier, balanced meals.
According to the CDC, a good way of taking care of our body is to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. When we are not eating enough, or eating poorly, stress tends to take over our body. Make sure to incorporate healthy fats, fibers and vegetables into your diet. Want to learn more about healthy eating? Visit https://www.bchd.org/blue-zones-grocery-stores to register for our next Virtual Blue Zones Project Cooking Show featuring brain healthy recipes this Friday, May 14 from 1-2 p.m. (free).
- Take time to unwind.
Doing something you enjoy can help keep a clear mind. Try reading a book, or picking up a new hobby. According to Mental Health America, making time to find enjoyment is also an important element of relaxation. As a bonus, try something that makes you laugh. Laughing can decrease pain, can help your heart and lungs, promotes muscle relaxation and can reduce anxiety.
Physical activity makes you feel, function and sleep better. According to the CDC, even one session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces anxiety, and even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial. If you’re looking to get active, visit our YouTube channel for free exercise videos from our Center for Health & Fitness.
- Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation is when you’re getting less than the amount of sleep you need to function. This can affect your mental health. According to the CDC, A third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep. Pro tip: avoid caffeine late at night to help you get a better night’s sleep. Visit https://www.bchd.org/sleep for more tips on getting better rest.
- Talk to someone
Don’t be afraid to talk to someone about how you feel. There may be others around you that are feeling the same way. A text or a phone call can go a long way. If you are experiencing a serious or life-threatening concern, please call 9-1-1. If your concern is not life-threatening, support is also available by contacting the 24/7 providers listed below:
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: Text the word “HOME” to 741-741
- LA County Mental Health Services: (800) 854-7771
- Visit https://www.bchd.org/mentalhealthawareness for additional tips, tools and health resources.
- Complete the Virtual Mental Health & Happiness Series
Throughout Mental Health Awareness Month, BCHD will be guiding residents through the self-led Mental Health & Happiness Series on our social media channels. Facilitated by Tiana Rideout-Rosales, participants will learn techniques to build a practice supporting stress resilience and positive social connections. Each week in May will focus on a different theme and include videos and activities:
Week of May 17 – Cultivate Bravery: Embrace opportunities and manage change
Week of May 24 – Maximize Gratitude: Express appreciation and savor kindness
- Do an act of kindness each day with the Kindness Calendar
It’s been a tough year – to say the least – and now is a good time to remind ourselves to be kind to ourselves and one another. Being kind to ourselves, body and mind, means we are self-compassionate. Being kind to others means treating others with respect and empathy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Challenge yourself to do an act of kindness every day during Mental Health Awareness Month with this Kindness Calendar. Follow us on social media for daily reminders to inspire positive actions and reflections.
- Attend a virtual event to support your mental health
For more information on BCHD’s free Mental Health Awareness Month Activities, please visit https://www.bchd.org/mentalhealthawareness