Look Around to Support Within
May is Mental Health Month and Mental Health America wants you to challenge yourself by seeing how your outside world impacts your inner mental health.
So, take a moment to consider your surroundings. How do you feel when you look at your surrounding environment? Do you feel safe? Is there a grocery store nearby? Is it easy to access healthcare? Is your home a place that supports you mentally and physically?
All these different factors can affect your mental health.
Where a person is born, grows up, works, lives, and ages, as well as their economic stability and social connections, are part of what is called “social determinants of health.” These non-medical factors, like poverty and discrimination, influence health outcomes. Obstacles including a lack of good jobs with fair pay, quality education, safe housing and other environments, and healthcare can hurt your mental health.
Many things may be out of your control, but there are some areas to focus on to protect your mental well-being.
Stability. A safe place to stay may be hard to find due to finances, age, and other reasons; still, it’s critical to mental health. State or other local agencies can help secure housing, remove safety hazards in the home, or find another space (such as a community center or friend’s home) where you can get the comfort you need.
Environment. There’s the old adage that a tidy house makes a tidy mind. So, work on keeping your space clean and organized in a way that makes you feel good. Since sleep and fresh air are also important, ensure that you keep your bed free of distractions and open the windows when you can. Don’t forget to surround yourself with items which bring positive and calm thoughts, whether that’s photos of happy times or inspiring images.
Community. A recent report found that social isolation was like smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Although it may not be easy, try to know the people living around you. Join or start community groups, like pea patches or neighbors-helping-neighbors activities, and be engaged with the world around you.
Nature. Multiple studies have proven that the natural world is healing for humans – emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Carve out time to be with nature. You can have houseplants, sit in a city park, keep the shades open to let I natural light, or go on a hike.
If you’re taking steps to improve your surroundings but still struggle with your mental health, you may be experiencing signs of a mental health condition. You can take a free, private screening here to help you figure out what is going on and determine next steps.
The world around us can be both positive and negative. We will experience ups and downs no matter what. To improve and maintain our mental health, we need to see what’s going on outside so we can support what happens inside.
Sources: Mental Health America; CDC; Fast Company; American Society of Landscape Architects.