By Helen A.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so what better time to renew our focus on improving our mental health? Life is complicated and busy enough even before the stress and strain of Covid the last two years.

Because of the stresses in our lives, we are often told to take care of ourselves, but what does that actually mean? The link between our physical health and mental health can be easy to forget. However, they are interrelated and work together to help us feel either good or bad. By improving one, we will positively affect the other.

Taking care of ourselves includes the basics like eating nutritious food, practicing some type of physical activity, and getting quality sleep on a regular basis.

Beyond helping our physical self, what can we do to help our mental health?

Staying hopeful is one important factor in keeping a positive attitude. Staying connected and resisting isolation does wonders for one’s well-being. Sure, sometimes we like to be alone to gather our thoughts and decompress from stressful situations. However, humans are social beings, and need to socialize with others on a regular basis for good mental health.

Being nice to yourself is a good habit to keep. Giving yourself positive feedback rather than negative feedback goes a long way toward maintaining a hopeful attitude. Other steps:

  • Practice daily moments of gratitude. Even on a bad day, there are always things for which to be grateful. Consider starting a gratitude journal.
  • Limit the time you spend catching up with the news. It does not help your mental health to get overwhelmed with world issues.
  • Take a walk on a daily basis. Besides needing a pair of comfortable walking shoes, this habit is totally free and there are limitless places to take a stroll. Walking in nature is even more beneficial.
  • Make time to enjoy a hobby on a regular basis. There are studies that show that concentrating completely on a task provides many benefits to our mental health. Crafts such as crocheting, gardening, listening to music or singing can help us unwind and create fun and joyful moments in our day.
  • Do for others. A giving heart is a contented heart.
  • Avoid using substances to deal with stress, including tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or even food. This option only leads to more problems down the line.
  • Treat yourself with understanding and kindness, just as you would treat a friend.

The EVPL has many materials that can help you learn about managing stress, as well as pursuing your interests. From books to learn how to crochet to practicing yoga and everything in between, you can find resources at the library. We also have how-to videos to learn new pastimes. Our new Library of Things allows you to check out items and try them out before purchasing, such as outdoor games, cookware, musical instruments, and much more.  

Let’s not forget that reading itself is a great pastime and stress reliever. There are many therapeutic benefits of reading, so grab a book to have on hand to relax with when you need to get away from it all and lose yourself in another world.

So remember to take care of yourself, and reach out to your public library to help you do just that!

Helen A.
Community Health Librarian

Helen A.

Give her a crossword puzzle to work, and Helen is one happy camper. She also enjoys making recipes healthier, developing her green thumb, and tracking her daily steps on walks with her husband.

Travel Reading
Sit. Stay. Read.