8 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
It's Mental Health Awareness Month, when more information is shared about the mental and behavioral issues that exist in our community in order to #breakthestigma and normalize conversations surrounding mental illness.
This month encourages us to come together as a community to address the mental health issues many people face, advocate for their needs, and provide helpful resources and support. It's also a way to connect those who suffer from mental illness so that they don't feel alone in their struggles.
In light of this month, we are sharing eight ways to improve your mental health and wellness, along with nine of our wellness workshops for you to take advantage of. Read on for more information below!
1. Strengthen Your Resilience
The stronger your resilience is, the better you are able to cope with hardships. This will also help protect your emotional, mental and psychological well-being. Just as you build up your physical strength in order to maintain a healthy life, to protect yourself, and to be able to take on more physically challenging tasks or activities, it is important to build up your mental strength.
This will help promote the well-being of your mind, to protect it from harmful and negative thoughts and emotions, and to be able to handle mentally exhausting and stressful situations. Your mind can affect how you physically feel, so once you can control your thoughts and emotions, you will have better control over your body as well.
2. Embark on Your Self-Discovery Journey
Get in touch with your inner-self to fully understand yourself, your interests, potential, and values. This will help you identify what your purpose is and what you need to thrive and live a meaningful, fulfilling life.
Having a stronger sense of self will make you more confident and more capable to stay true to yourself despite the pressures, stereotypes, judgments, and unrealistic standards that you may face in society. You’ll be less impacted by societal norms when are in tune with your identity and learn how to be your authentic self so that you can reach your fullest potential.
3. Be Kind to Yourself and Practice Gratitude
In the age of social media, where everyone is comparing their lives to other people’s highlight reels, it can be easy to start feeling bad about yourself or your life. Take a break from social media and reflect on who you are outside of these unrealistic standards of perfection. Recognize the positive aspects of your life and practice gratitude for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have.
Having an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset will give you the motivation you need to create the life you want because you believe in yourself and all of the possibilities that life has to offer. Start getting in the habit of reflecting on your achievements and saying more positive affirmations to yourself so that you can manifest your dreams. A great way to do this is by creating a gratitude journal to document all of the things you appreciate about yourself, your life, or a specific experience.
4. Stress Management
Whether you are a student in school, have a demanding job, or are a busy parent, stress is all around us, so it is necessary to find ways to manage this stress so that it doesn’t catch up with you in the long-term.
Stress can really impact one’s health and lead to more serious, chronic illnesses if it is not maintained. It is known to cause increased blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, among other issues. You may have become accustomed to the feeling of stress, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t impacting your body, mind, emotions, and behaviors even if you may not physically feel it yet.
Some ways to manage stress are to engage in more physical activities, practice relaxation techniques, spend time with family and friends, and do things that you genuinely enjoy like reading a book, listening to music or a podcast, or journaling, for example.
No matter how busy or stressful life gets, be sure to prioritize time for yourself to allow your mind and body to unwind and destress so that you can approach your work with more energy and motivation.
5. Live Life to the Fullest
Don’t let anything or anyone hold you back from reaching your potential and living life to the fullest. Strengthen your resolve and determination to live the life you deserve despite any limitations, fears or doubts you may have or be faced with. Once you know who you are and what you aspire to be, work towards reaching those goals no matter how difficult it may be at times.
When your dreams finally become a reality, the hard work it took to get there will surely be worth it, especially when you are able to do what you love day in and day out. Also be sure to enjoy life as much as you can and be present in each and every moment.
Whether that means traveling to your bucket-list destinations, doing more outdoor activities, or spending quality time with the people you love, make the most of your life by doing the things that truly bring you happiness and that give you a genuine sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
6. Express Your Feelings Productively
It’s important to feel your emotions rather than suppress them. So, if you’re sad or angry, don’t swallow your tears or bottle up your anger because that could do more harm than good, and may come out in a worse way at a later time. Instead, find a productive, healthy way to express your emotions whether it’s screaming into a pillow, venting to a friend, listening to music, writing your feelings down on paper, or getting an intense workout in.
Furthermore, it’s important not to dwell on the things that have made you angry or sad. Living with regret, guilt, or negativity can eat away at you, so instead of feeding into those negative emotions, find the silver lining of your hardships. In other words, try to focus on the good that could possibly come from your bad experiences, even if it’s just a lesson learned that will help you make better decisions in the future.
Ease your mind and soul with some meditation that teaches you how to focus your attention and awareness to become more in tune with your mind and body. Meditation can really help you deal with stress, anxiety, depression, or any other hardship you may be experiencing.
There are several different kinds of meditation such as mindfulness meditation, spiritual meditation, focused meditation, movement meditation, mantra meditation, transcendental meditation. progressive relaxation, loving-kindness meditation, and visualization meditation. Learn more about these various types, here to see which one(s) would best suit you and your needs.
Journaling can even be considered a form of mindfulness meditation, as it helps you organize your thoughts and emotions and calm your mind. You could also get into yoga, which is an example of movement meditation. It improves mental stability and strengthens the connection between your mind, body, and soul by combining the physical and mental, along with some breathing exercises.
8. Seek Therapy
Going through difficult times can be incredibly isolating, but recognize that you do not have to go through your hardships alone. There is no shame in seeking professional help to help you overcome your challenges. Confiding in a therapist may offer some relief and can help you navigate your thoughts and emotions better. You may be able to pinpoint “why” you may be feeling the way you do, and that will allow you to treat and address the underlying issue at hand.
But remember, nothing has to necessarily even be wrong for you to start seeing a therapist. This can be a proactive way to take charge of your mental health by expressing yourself in a safe, judgment free-zone. If this is something you are not ready or comfortable to do just yet, there are other things that may be therapeutic for you like reading relatable novels or poetry, writing, listening to podcasts or music, or going for outdoor walks.
Prioritize your mental wellness by engaging in activities that serve your well-being and make you feel better. Don’t become discouraged if some techniques don’t work for you; try out different things until you find one that is effective. You deserve to live the best life possible, so don’t put yourself on the back-burner. Indulge in mindful self-care as much as you can.
Be sure to also check out some of our wellness-related workshops you can take this month!
Jane Eyre and the Psychology of Resilience ~ with Astoria Wright
Date & Time of Session: Saturday, May 7, 2022 at 11 AM ET
No topic may be as important in Psychology as resilience -- the ability to face adversity and remain mentally strong. But how exactly do we build that resilience?
Few protagonists illustrate resilience better than Jane Eyre, an orphaned girl who overcame adversity to become an independent woman. In this workshop, expert Astoria Wright will help you explore Jane Eyre as a means to better understand how to build resilience in your own life.
By the end of the workshop, you will be able to define resilience; understand main themes in the novel, Jane Eyre, as they exemplify resilience in the protagonist's life; identify the strategies that help build resilience; and apply these strategies to your own life.
*Pre-reading the book is NOT required to take this workshop. Sign up, here.
Feeling Invisible: Exploring Racism, Identity, & Truth Through Ellison's "Invisible Man" ~ with Dr. Sean Bogle
Date & Time of Session: May 11, 2022 at 1 PM ET
Exploring themes of racism, identity, and truth, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man brings readers on a journey of invisibility and self-discovery that poses a harsh critique of American society. In this workshop, students will be guided through how discrimination shaped the narrator's world views.
Instructor, Dr. Sean Bogle, will also facilitate a safe space in which students will be encouraged to reflect on societal norms and their own lived experiences. Through collective conversations, students will leave this workshop empowered to identify ways to create a more equitable society.
*Pre-reading the book is NOT required to take this workshop. Sign up, here.
Perception and Compassion in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ~ with Roxanne Villarreal
Date & Time of Session: Thursday, May 12, 2022 at 7 PM ET
Perception can influence attitude and actions, provoking strong emotions such as compassion, anger, and even violence. In this workshop, expert Roxanne Villarreal will guide you through crucial events in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein where characters' actions were solely influenced by their perception of the situation and of others.
Throughout the workshop, you will have the opportunity to reflect on your own perceptions of various life situations and how they may have influenced your thoughts and actions. Don’t miss gaining a new perspective on this classic novel as well as your own personality! Sign up, here.
Healing Through Poetry ~ with Brittney Kay
Date & Time of Session: Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 5 PM ET
Expert Brittney Kay will explore healing trauma through the lens of four famous poems: The Healed Heart Shows Its Shallow Scar by Emily Dickinson, The Journey by Mary Oliver, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, and I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth.
This workshop will provide you with a space to relax, reflect, express, and heal while learning key tips and techniques for writing your experiences. You will learn about the basics of trauma, shame, and conflict.
Brittney will lead a discussion on how poems reflect these universal human experiences of processing grief, despair, and sorrow. You will also reflect on how the poems offer solutions for the reader. There will be opportunity for discussion after each poem, but participation is not mandatory. You will leave with a deeper understanding of these four famous poems and how to process deep emotional experiences. Sign up, here.
You Need to Calm Down: Tips for Handling Test Anxiety ~ with Kristi Galligan
Date & Time of Session: Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 11 AM ET
You've got this! Don't let your anxiety hold you back. Learn strategies to help you cope with the pressures of taking any test including standardized, skills and assessment, employment related, and more.
Expert Kristi Galligan will show you how to mentally prepare for high stakes testing through a variety of techniques such as imagery, breathing, and setting goals. You will leave this workshop ready to tackle your tests with the calm needed to succeed. Sign up, here.
Rebellion: Jo's Rhetoric in Little Women ~ with Roxanne Villarreal
Date & Time of Session: Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 7 PM ET
Some of the most memorable characters in film and literature are rebels, and Jo March in Little Women is a prime example. In this workshop with expert Roxanne Villarreal, examine how Jo's rhetoric of rebellion creates more options for her—and ultimately for us. Sign up, here.
The Original Prince of Darkness: An Introduction to the Defining Works of Edgar Allan Poe ~ 2-sessions with Callahan Wesley
Dates & Times of Sessions: Starts Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at 3 PM ET
This 2-session workshop will cover Edgar Allan Poe's most famous works as well as his biography. You will gain a greater knowledge and appreciation for the writer who popularized both the short story format and the detective genre in America.
Sessions will focus on Poe's fascinating yet melancholy life, poems such as "The Raven" and “Annabel Lee”, the bone-chilling short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”, and two more tales of dread and intrigue--“The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat”. Sessions will be interactive and geared towards participants above the age of 16.
Expert Callahan Wesley will help you expand upon your critical reading skills as you break down passages, identify common motifs, analyze unreliable narrators, and recognize the connection between Poe and pop cultural icons such as Steven King, Vincent Price, and—shockingly—the Baltimore Ravens.
*No previous experience with Poe is necessary to take this workshop. Sign up, here.
Journaling & Yoga: A Mini-Retreat for Your Mind and Body ~ with Kristine Roxas-Miller
Date & Time of Session: Saturday, May 7, 2022 at 3 PM ET
Begin by reflecting with writing prompts centered on mindfulness and self-improvement, followed by relaxation with meditative and gentle flows. Literacy teacher and yoga practitioner Kristine Roxas-Miller will help you re-energize with this mini-retreat from your busy and stressful environment! Sign up, here.
Disclaimer: Please be informed that a health declaration waiver will need to be completed at the start of the session.
Water for hydration
Pen and journal
Yoga Mat (or other non-slip alternative)
Bolster or pillows (optional)
Strap or long thin scarf (optional)
Block or thick sturdy books (optional)
The Pursuit of Happiness: An Introduction to Gratitude Journaling ~ with Deana Hasandjekaj
Date & Time of Session: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 at 7 PM ET
Are you intrigued by journaling but are not sure where to start or if it can actually benefit you? Expert Deana Hasandjekaj will introduce you to different types of journaling such as gratitude journaling, savoring, bullet journaling and show you how to get the most out of them.
You will learn about and respond to different journaling prompts and have the opportunity to share, although not required. After taking this workshop, you will be able to understand how to journal more effectively so it benefits you and apply these techniques on a regular basis. Sign up, here.