Mental health matters. This month is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I will be sharing tips from Mental Health America (MHA) on how to improve your mental wellness all month.
MHA experts say good feelings can boost your ability to bounce back from stress, solve problems, think flexibly, and even fight disease. Studies show the following to be true: Laughing decreases pain, may help your heart and lungs, promotes muscle relaxation and can reduce anxiety. Positive emotions can decrease stress hormones and build emotional strength. Leisure activities offer a distraction from problems, a sense of competence and many other benefits. For example, twins who participated in leisure activities were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than their fellow twins in one study.
Strengthen Your Funny Bone. You can keep it together by cracking up: It’s hard to be irritated, worried or glum when you’re rolling in laughter. And gentle humor often helps defuse a tense situation. Check out some tips: Pick up some joke books or humorous essays at a bookstore or library. Keep a few handy for a quick pick-me-up. Put together a collection of sayings or photos that make you smile, and stick them someplace visible. Change them occasionally, or you’ll likely stop noticing them. Watch or listen to comedy via video, podcast, or website. Try to laugh at some of the hassles in your life if you can. Finding what’s a bit absurd or amusing in a challenging situation just might offer relief.
Find Some Fun. Whether it’s playing a game or goofing around, having fun isn’t just, well, fun. It also promotes our overall well-being and success. Leisure activities can boost our effectiveness, broaden our perspective, increase creativity and restock our energy supply. Leisure can combat stress by offering: social support, chances to build confidence, distractions from difficulties and an emotional lift.
Free up some time. Set aside a time for fun, and keep it like it was an appointment. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Bake something, change something in your house or learn a new skill. If you’re not sure how, take a class or look for a local group dedicated to the activity. Pursue a creative interest. Writing, singing or making music all have therapeutic effects. Or just turn on a song you love: Brain images show that music can trigger feel-good hormones. Do it with someone you love. Get an extra boost from your leisure by sharing it. Good times build relationships that are key to our happiness. Remember my friends and readers, embrace 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind”. Love God and all people. Amen.