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.
Jen Seitz is a yoga teacher and writer who wants to dive deeper into the yoga lifestyle. Care to join? Read on...