It’s easy to neglect your mental health. With looming deadlines, the stressful news cycle, and hardly any time to relax, often the first thing to get cut from our to-do lists is anything related to self-care. Let’s change that.
Every week in May, Mental Health Awareness Month, Calm’s mindfulness experts will provide you with at least five simple, quick ways to improve your mental health right now. No need to clear your schedule – these are all easy actions to incorporate into your daily routine that hopefully, will add up in a big way.
Calm’s Chief Purpose Officer Jay Shetty, a former monk, purpose coach and best-selling author, has seven suggestions — all starting with the letter -s — to help you kick off May right.
RELATED: Check out Jay Shetty’s “Daily Jay” for more words of wisdom.
1. Self-acknowledgement: Even when we’ve made gratitude a regular habit, we tend to focus it outward, on others. Each day, remember to thank yourself at least once, even for something that seems small, like getting out of bed and brushing your teeth. Or for something really big, like getting to this day.
2. Sleep: One of the most powerful ways to support your mental and physical health is through sleep—experts say most of us need about seven to eight hours per night. A great night’s sleep can shift your outlook on life, and makes things seem more possible.
3. Support yourself: Be aware of your self-talk. Many of us say things to ourselves we’d never say to others. Instead, practice supporting yourself by speaking to yourself in the language of love, addressing yourself as you would your partner, pet, or best friend.
4. Seek awe: Science shows that when we see a vast landscape, watch a baby giraffe learn to walk for the first time, or share in a sing-along, we experience the mood-altering effects of awe. Awe makes us feel both humble, and more connected to the world around us. We can access awe in person, or via photos and videos.
5. Specify: When we label our negative feelings—either by speaking them aloud or writing them down, we defuse them. Scans show that simply identifying, “I feel angry,” “I feel frustrated,” or “I feel disappointed,” quiets down the emotional centers in our brain.
6. Solitude: Spending intentional time alone where you’re purposefully disconnected from a phone or computer is a wonderful opportunity to get quiet and really hear yourself. Research consistently shows that quiet time in nature, where you’re simply noticing the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around you, boosts our mood and our health.
7. Serve: Research reveals that when we help others, we help ourselves. People involved in service consistently report feeling a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life.
The Calm app offers guided meditations, mindfulness programs, breathing exercises, and bedtime stories that can help you unwind. Feel better, inside and out.