May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is not a month I’ve been aware of before, but apparently it’s been around since 1949. Obviously, it was an underground thing for most of its existence, since it’s really only been the last couple of years that the stigma around mental health has lessened enough that it’s ok to talk about it. I don’t think anyone is unaware of mental health after the past year, nor that it is something everyone has, as opposed to just the “crazy” person down the block.
The truth is it’s more than just a month. Maintaining your mental health is a daily practice that needs attention year round. This isn’t one and done. It’s more like exercising. You don’t work out every day for a month and then think you’re done for the rest of the year. In our society we want a pill for everything. There is no magic pill here. You have to put in the time and effort every single day. Some days will absolutely suck; some days will be fabulous. Most days will be somewhere in between, and there will be highs and lows throughout every day.
Resilience is key. Everyone has things come up in life that can flatten you. You are never going to be able to avoid that altogether. It’s about building tools and skills into your life, so that the dip isn’t as deep or doesn’t last for very long. Learning how to navigate around the problems to prevent them in the first place helps, but we all need to learn how to handle crises with the minimum of stress and trauma. Easier said than done, but the daily work you put in pays off enormously when things go sideways.
You may not feel like the meditation, the exercise, the therapy and counseling is making a difference in the moment, but it all adds up. If you have multiple ways to down regulate your body and lift your mood, you are going to be so well equipped to deal with adversity when it does arise. Know that you are not alone and do the best you can in the moment.