May is Mental Health Month

It’s only been two years since I last posted to this blog. Come on. Two years. Not like anyone reads this anyway. I realize this is more for me and is a form of therapy more than anything. Anyhow, I figure it’s a good time to come back since May is Mental Health Month. What are you doing to better your mental health?

It is spring… so the calendar says, but the weather has been horrid. That has really played a part in the degradation of my mental health. I am learning to love the gym on rainy days, plugging in my ear phones, turning up Luke Bryan and Maroon 5, and just getting after it. I still prefer to exercise outdoors, but with all this rain the mountain bike trails are unrideable, and I have also been dealing with plantar fasciitis, so tennis and running have been off the list. However, I notice I definitely feel better mentally when I am consistent with exercise. My anxiety and depression are lowered, I have more energy, and I feel good about myself. It is important to realize that exercise is not just for physical appearances or stave off chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, but physical activity is of utmost important to our mental health. So if you are not physically active, it’s time to start asking yourself, “why not?”. Something is better than nothing.

I started teaching this fall at our local community college. I ask to teach as often as possible, so besides regular fall and spring semester, I taught a 9 day winter session, and just began summer session which will last 6 weeks. I take on instructing these extra sessions for my mental health. It gives structure to my day, gives me a sense of purpose, and keeps me busy. The class, by the way, is called Concepts of Fitness and Wellness. 😉

I am trying to get back on track nutritionally as well for both my physical and mental health. I have gone back to eating 99% vegetarian, more plant based all around, and stopped drinking wine nightly. I just stopped keeping wine in the house as I found I didn’t miss it, but if it was in the house I had a glass every night. I think I am sleeping better, more soundly, and seem to have less “foggy brain”.

I have also been in the habit of performing progressive muscle relaxation exercises before I go to sleep. Most nights I read in bed for 30-60 minutes prior to turning off the light, but then sometimes I lay there for another 30-60 minutes before actually falling asleep. So now I turn the light off by 10:30 and then do a quick run through of contracting and relaxing my muscles from feet to head. It is amazing at how much quicker I fall asleep now!

I still have my good days and bad days, but at least I am aware of what I need to do to get back on track. That is the first step: being aware. From there change is possible.


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