Article by Colleen De Bellefonds
Writing for WellandGood.com May, 2019
Photo: Tim Gibson for W+G
Show me a person who’s never felt stressed or down in the dumps. No really, I’d like to meet that glittery rainbow unicorn. And so would the Well+Good reader, 95 percent of whom reported being stressed in a 2018 survey.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Month, which means that it’s the perfect time to re-prioritize our mental well-being. That’s why we created a 30-day Mental Wellness Challenge: a month’s worth of daily tasks designed to help you prioritize your mental wellness needs.
“The data shows that small changes build up. When we notice ourselves making changes to feel better, we start to feel better,” says Natalie Dattilo, Ph.D., director of psychology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry and a member of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Datillo regularly uses the mnemonic “ESCAPE” to discuss mental wellness with her clients. The acronym stands for Exercise (an instant mood booster and stress reducer), Sleep (which helps your brain function at its best), Connect and Appreciate (because social connections and gratitude can foster better mental health), Pleasure (an important component of overall happiness), and Exhale (a powerful way to calm anxieties and reduce stress). These six strategies, she says, are the most science-backed ways to manage stress and emotions to promote better mental well-being.
Each tip in the month-long challenge is designed to help you to re-define self care, manage daily stressors, start a conversation around mental health, or address a common lifestyle trigger that impacts mental health. No matter your current mental state—from feeling mildly stressed to dealing with something more serious—these tips can provide a reminder to take a minute for yourself to find balance and peace in the daily chaos of life. These tasks should only be part of your overall mental wellness plan; they complement treatment but don’t replace it.
This challenge is also about trying new strategies to find out what works for you. So keep your mind open to experimentation. “Don’t feel guilty if something you try doesn’t work for you. Something else will,” says psychologist Aimee Daramus, Psy.D.At the end of the 30 days, choose the changes that have the biggest impact on your happiness, and keep them up the rest of the year for a calmer, centered you.
Ready to start the challenge? Here’s what we’ve got in store for you for the next 30 days:
To read how each day is planned, click on the link below: