Last week was National Suicide Prevention Week and in light of the death of 9-year-old Jamal Myles. I think the conversation about mental health is something we need to have continuously, I know I recently wrote about accepting when you’re not ok, but today I wanted to share some ways to continuously take care of your mental health. With New York Fashion Week coming to a close, I am also reminded of the fashion industries loss of the great Kate Spade in June. In a world of Instagram and social media what you see of a person online isn’t always the full story. Kate suppressed her depression and hid her battles from the public to preserve the happy-go-lucky image of her brand. Poor Jamal was proud of who he was and was bullied by classmates to a point where he saw no other way to escape. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America today. On average there are 123 deaths by suicide in the United States. Your mental health is something that shouldn’t take a back seat to image or peoples perception.
Talk talk talk
When it comes to your mental health talking about your feelings is probably the most important thing, feeling like you need to bottle everything up for the sake of people around you or your image is incredibly toxic. Talk to your friends and family or even a professional
Do physical activities that you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a CrossFit class or running a marathon it can simply be a brisk walk or even a yoga class. To quote the wise Elle Woods “Exercise gives you endorphins, Endorphins makes you happy.” There have been studies done that say regular physical activity can actually help treat minor depression. I am signed up for ClassPass and it actually brings me so much joy to sign up for a new type of class at a different studio. I get to explore the city and get a great workout every time.
There is nothing wrong with having a couple drinks with friends on the weekends. I love going out with my friends for drinks and dancing, alcohol is typically how we socialize and I’m not here to say this is inherently bad for your mental health. But alcohol is a depressant, that’s why we get that relaxed feeling. As though this helps us interact more freely with strangers you have to keep your mental health in mind when consuming alcohol, studies show it does affect the makeup of our brains. If you’re feeling down or suffer from depression you can still go out with friends and have a great time just watch your consumption. I love going out and just ordering tonic and lime. I feel like I’m in on the fun, no one tries to pressure me to drink and I get to socialize.
Now, this helps with so much more than just your mental health. Eating healthy keeps your body running at tip-top shape and you should be conscious of what you’re putting in your body regardless. I decided 3 years ago to listen to my body and go vegetarian and it was the best decision. Make sure you’re in tune with what foods your body does and doesn’t like and feed it accordingly. Omega 3s are great for your mental health so make sure to pack in those chia seeds, and fish like salmon, and spinach. B-12 and zinc are also great vitamins to include in your diet to help your mental health. I also think when your living a positive lifestyle and eating healthy that naturally brings your mood up.
Keep in Touch with People that Make You Happy
When I moved to Chicago I didn’t know many people. Being in a strange place can be kind of lonely and often times people will be too afraid to explore and it can be kind of daunting to try to make new friends. So keeping in touch with those people back home that brings you joy is very important. I have had a couple friends come to visit me out here and even have weekly catch ups with my friend Courtney which I look forward to. When you have this routine with friends and people that bring positive energy into your life it can really keep your mood up.
Ask for Help
Finally and probably most importantly there is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. Society should not make people feel like their mental illness is a sign of weakness or something that should be hidden. If you need to talk to someone find a good friend or family member to talk to. If you don’t feel like that could work speak to a therapist, they are trained to listen to your thoughts and give you advice on the subject. You can even call suicide hotlines if you just feel like you need to talk to someone. I have included some great resources for mental health if you are struggling, remember you aren’t alone.