Full disclosure: I’m not a psychologist or doctor of any sort. I also recognize that there are real mental health conditions that require treatment and medical attention. I would never want diminish to the magnitude of any of that.
The purpose of this blog, however, is to talk about mental hygiene. Like brushing your teeth or getting your routine check-ups with your doctor, mental hygiene is a preventative routine that you can start on the daily to keep your mental health healthier. Mental health is something we rarely talk about, yet it (ironically) is a huge problem in American society.
Check out a snapshot of what America’s mental health looks like:
Ways To Create Your Mental Hygiene Routine:
Understand what mental hygiene means. Mental hygiene is akin to something you do on a regular basis to prevent a health condition. You might compare it to flossing your teeth, visiting your dentist for regular check-ups or going to the doctor for yearly cancer screenings. You do these things are recommended by the medical community BEFORE there is a problem. So, similarly, you can take some solid steps on your own to, hopefully, offset a mental health issue before it occurs. Another beneficial aspect of good mental hygiene practices is that, should a mental health issue arise, you’ll be better equipped to deal with it.
Explore a wide variety of modalities. Everyone is different. Everyone’s lifestyle, budget and personal preferences are variable, so here are some ideas to get you started. It’s a good start, but you can create the list of things that are feasible for your life and appeal to your personal tastes. Choose a variety of activities to support your overall mood and happiness. You might explore art, physical exercise, yoga (more on that next), acupuncture, nature, support networks of friends, healthy eating and sleeping regimens and avoidance of triggering or negative situations, including social media or television. Finding these small incremental activities that contribute to your sense of peace and happiness and prioritizing them can make all the difference.
Ask for help when you need it. Do you think it’s a sign of weakness or a burden to ask for help? It’s a strange thing that society teaches many of us. Somehow we’re trained to believe that it’s better to keep things inside rather than reach out when we need help or feel sad. The real truth is, however, that asking for help or being vulnerable takes strength and courage. In my humble opinion, the real heroes are the ones who admit when they are hurting and take steps to heal themselves. If it were easier and more acceptable to access help when we need it, perhaps the mental health crisis in America would not exist.
Practice yoga. If you love Instagram (like this blogger), you’ve likely come across the beautiful model-types on IG that can contort their bodies into shapes that make you wonder if they actually have bones. These pictures are fun to look at, but yoga is much more than a pose (asana). Yoga is about your breath, your mind and, of course, we could write an entire blog about the physical benefits of yoga, but at its core, yoga is a moving meditation. The mental health benefits of practicing yoga and meditation on a consistent basis are supported by countless studies from sources like the American Psychological Association, researchers and medical journalists at Harvard and UCLA, as well as countless other medical journals and publications. So the case for starting a yoga practice is solid, here are some tips if you are beginning or jumping back onto the yogic path:
Yoga may not be the answer to all the issues surrounding the mental health crisis facing our country, but it can and will continue to feature as a way to calm conditions like stress, mild depressions and anxiety. Even for more severe instances of mental health issues, many therapists are recommending yoga to patients as another outlet to help in the healing process. But, why wait until there’s an issue to take care of your mental health? That’s the idea. Start now and prevent, be prepared and stay healthy!
Pop Up Yoga exists to help bring more yoga to the world at large. Recognizing that not all yogis can make it into a studio, Pop Up Yoga offers private group or one-on-one yoga sessions as well as yoga for corporations, online classes via Zoom and yoga-themed special events.
Contact Pop Up Yoga if you’d like to learn more about current offerings or to create your own Pop Up Yoga event.
COVID-19 swept through the world and forced us into our homes in the early months of 2020. The experience is still raw as many of us had loved ones that were impacted by the virus, and our optimistic freedom still appears to be on shaky ground as we watch daily numbers of cases increase.
This shelter-in-place scenario was a shock to most of our systems. We couldn't go out into the world around us and partake in the things that give us pleasure. Even the simple things were suddenly out of reach like hugs and face to face interactions with, well, anyone outside those we live with. On a macro level, major league sports seasons have been canceled. The environment has seen unimaginable breaks from pollution and businesses have gone under. On a micro level, couples have broken up. Kids have flunked their virtual classes. Mental health conditions have skyrocketed. 2020 has been a watershed year for all of us collectively, and we're not even officially in summer yet.
The world is opening up at varying paces, but the inevitable "new normal" seems to be bouncing back at a full steam ahead pace. As the stubborn virus seems to still lurk in the background of our society, we're starting to carry on with our daily lives. Even though life is getting back to something similar to what it was before, I'd like to make the case for holding onto some of the adaptations we've made during this period.
Maybe we'll keep eating healthy, homemade foods. Maybe we'll keep going for walks and bike rides every day. Maybe we'll spend more time swimming in our neglected pools. Maybe we'll unapologetically lie in bed with coffee and a good book more frequently. Maybe we'll appreciate those times when we do hug and have more gratitude for that casual encounter with a friend. AND, maybe we'll still take Zoom yoga classes. I know, I know...you prefer to be in the yoga studio side by side with your yogi friends, sweating it out in a hot room and guided by the voice of your favorite teachers. But, hear me out, my case for keeping Zoom yoga around is strong.
6 Reasons Why Zoom Yoga Should Stay On Your Radar Post Pandemic:
While so many difficult things resulted from the quarantine period, some good, unintended consequences happened. In this yogi's humble opinion, one of the most beautiful things that went down during the pandemic of 2020 was the connections it created. Connections between people who had never met before and even those who had known each their whole lives. Many thanks to technology platforms like Zoom and others.
As we go about our busy lives in normal times, we often get set in our ways, too busy to break out and take notice of something new. CoronaVirus forced us to rethink our comfort zone and find new ways to connect. It forced us to do the things we never had time to do. The results:
Yes, of course, I'm continuing my Zoom yoga class, I teach an all levels Zoom yoga class on Wednesdays at 7:30 PM EST - contact me for information!
Or explore the many offerings from Pop Up Yoga including outdoor yoga events open to the public, private one-on-one or small group as well as events and corporate yoga classes. What did you have in mind for your Pop Up yoga event?
Jen Seitz is a yoga teacher and writer who wants to dive deeper into the yoga lifestyle. Care to join? Read on...