10 Ways to Put Yourself First During May’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Plus a few ways you can help spread awareness on social media

April 30, 2019
Mind Your Health

Charlie and Taylor Photography


May is a Mental Health Awareness Month! Mental Health America (MHA) has been working hard to spread awareness in May specifically since 1949 (2019 marks 70 years of their annual awareness efforts). As a mental health advocate (very publicly for over 2 years now), I find spreading awareness to be a very important part in reducing the stigma and showing support to those that struggle regularly (if not daily).

Related: 30 Day Insta(gram) Story Challenge - #BreakTheStigma

Last year, MHA set a theme for the month to be #4Mind4Body which challenged participants to do something both mentally and physically daily to improve overall health. This year the organization is expanding upon this concept beyond fitness by adding additional support mechanisms which include Animal Companionship, Humor, Social Connection (and Recreation), Spirituality (and Religion), and Work-Life Balance.

Putting your mental health first doesn’t have to be a ‘chore’ – it can consist of simple acts of self-care. Ultimately it’s about making time for YOU(rself) each day (even if all that you can spare is 5 minutes a day). Here are 10 ideas to get your ideas started:

  1. Take 3 deep breaths – this is something often associated with meditation, focusing on your breathing (even briefly) can refocus your mine.
  2. Add exercise into your daily routine (10,000 steps a day is recommended, but if you’re far from reaching that – take a 5-minute walking break at work or once you get home).
  3. Go to bed early tonight! Then do that tomorrow and the next day until your nightly routine includes getting the appropriate amount of sleep.
  4. Eat healthier. No, you don’t have to give up all of your favorites, just actively have a vegetable or fruit. Maybe skip the second helping of dessert at the end of the night.
  5. Drink more water. Your body craves it and regular water consumption can do wonders for both your physical and mental health (oh, and it can help curb your hunger).
  6. Get some Vitamin D… sunlight that is. Work in a windowless office or set of cubes? Make it a point to take a sunlight break. Try to get 15 minutes twice a day (and while you’re outside, why not take a walk and knock out a little light exercise!).
  7. Use a diffuser with essential oils (like eucalyptus) – I kept hearing about these and recently had an opportunity to try it. While yes, you have to ‘buy’ this item, it takes like 30 seconds of effort to get going and then works for you in the background.
  8. Massage/Stretch – no, you don’t have to buy a 30-minute massage (unless you have that worked into your budget), a massage roller ball or other self-administered massage devices can relieve muscle tension (as can stretching). A happy body leads to a happy mind.
  9. Shower (or take a bath) – seriously, not only do you smell good afterward but the water wakes you up and it’s just about as simple as it gets for quick, daily self-care.
  10. Text a friend – human connection helps us feel less lonely. Your friend will appreciate it and you will too. Plus, if you haven’t caught up with a friend (or family member) in a while, you could always try hands-free calling during your commute home from work.

If you’d like to do more to spread awareness for mental health, you can always hit me up on social media at @JMattMke (same handle on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok) and get the Instagram messaging for the #22PushupChallenge. I have been participating daily for over 825 days and it’s to spread awareness of the average of 22 combat veterans that die by suicide daily (the average has gone down since I started and is now closer to 20 a day).

Day 737: THANK YOU to everyone that joined me tonight for the #22PushupChallenge at @HashtagMKE’s 2-Year Anniversary event to spread awareness with @Mission_22! Thank you to @edbokeh for filming tonight’s set too. • I can’t figure out everyone that joined, please DM me or comment if I miss you in the tag here and I’ll add you. Tonight’s guest pushers included but are not limited to: @cheyncrangle, @riggsradio, @marglemedia, @courtesyofmatt, @thatdudedres, @tagjustq, @jeremymeetsadventure, @alfaromatt, @meatonthestreet, @mcrosm, @estamosunidosus, @sandradempsey7, @samlister414, @mattyice414, @chabovvski, @doingtoomuchflow, @aoberley ... and that’s all I can pick out (I honestly can’t figure out what the official count was - of those that joined in - but thank you!). • This is about more than just pushups - the 22 Pushup Challenge originated as a way to spread awareness that an average of 22 combat veterans take their own lives each day. • A recent statistic has shown that the number has decreased slightly to about 20 a day, but that is still too many! • If you need resources, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or text HELLO to 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line. • If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, reach out and ask for help. It could save a life! • If you’d like to participate in the 22 Pushup Challenge, I encourage you to do so! Just record a video and post it on social media (Instagram, Facebook... wherever). • It doesn’t have to be “pretty” because it’s “not about the pushups” it’s about the awareness! Please tag me so I can support you with likes and comments (and a virtual pat on the back).

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You can also participate in my 30-Day Instagram Story [Mental Health> Challenge with daily prompts to get you talking about your experiences with mental illness to help #BreakTheStigma. Though I created it and participated in October, several have joined in on their own as they’ve come across it – tag me (@JMattMke) so I can encourage you along the way!

Related: Reducing the Suicide Rate 20% by 2025

Of all the mental illnesses, I’m drawn most towards spreading awareness around depression and suicide. It’s important to know the warning signs and according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, “symptoms of mental illness can often appear similar to average teen development.” So, what’s the difference? Check out this infographic to see potential warning signs to look for in your teen (or friends).

Related: Riggs' MentalHealthMonday Podcast - Matt Shinn's 2200 Mile Hike for Mental Health Awareness

All Radio.com stations are committed to ending the stigma of talking about mental health. For more information and resources, visit ImListening.org.