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Spring brings a mixed bag of weather, along with the promise that summer is near. As we transition from the dark days of winter to the long, bright days of summer, May is a good time to prioritize our mental health through self-care.

Walk with a coworker to boost productivity.

Take a break in your workday for a walk with a coworker to boost your mental health and productivity!

Mother Nature is ready to help! Exposure to sunlight produces a chemical reaction in our bodies that makes us feel good. Being outside in the sunshine helps in the production of serotonin, which some people call the ‘happy hormone.’ A mere 10 minutes in the sun can boost our mood. In addition to serotonin, sunlight increases levels of vitamin D, which also affects mental health.

While enjoying the sunshine, why not get a little exercise? Like spending time in the sun, exercising releases serotonin, as well as dopamine, another of the body’s feel-good products. People who exercise regularly see physical benefits, such as weight management, increased muscle strength and improved heart health, along with a mood boost. Exercise also improves cognition. A thirty-minute workout before work or school boosts brain function to set you up for a successful and productive day.

When exercise is done with others, socializing and connectedness improves our sense of well-being. Take family or friends with you when you bike or hike a trail. Join a local group or club related to your favorite activities and hobbies to meet new people and build friendships. Even the companionship of a dog on a walk can reduce stress and anxiety. Dogs are social animals, so going for a walk through the neighborhood or park also promotes opportunities for socialization with fellow neighbors and dog-lovers alike. These interactions boost mental wellness for everyone involved.

What about those rainy days? Focus on the positive things in your life and make a list of five things you are grateful for. Gratitude is an emotion that stems from the acknowledgement of the goodness in your life. The practice of expressing gratitude, whether it is to yourself in a journal or out loud to your friends and family, can decrease feelings of depression and anxiety, while improving mood and sleep. Spend a few minutes each day journaling. The act of writing down thoughts and feelings privately helps us to process our emotions while gaining insight into difficult situations, strengthening our emotional awareness.

For some people, spending a few minutes in meditation can reset emotions and bring balance. Consider using meditation apps or listening to a meditation podcast. Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down without distractions or disruptions. Inhale a deep breath, and feel it fill your lungs. Hold the breath and then release it slowly. Repeat a few times, focusing on feeling and listening to each breath.

These self-care tips help us manage our mental health while acknowledging the significant impact of mental wellness on our overall physical well-being. Consider other ways you manage stress in your life and prioritize incorporating activities that bring you joy into your routine for a healthy mental boost.