Mental Health Awareness Month: “Look Around, Look Within”

By Lauren Minter | Director, Operations and Client Service

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year’s theme, according to Mental Health America, is “Look Around, Look Within.” This theme challenges you to examine how your world can affect your overall health. Many factors, both internal and external, impact your health – from genetics to your social connections, from your work environment to your family culture. These determinants can impact you positively or negatively. As I reflect this month, I’ve identified a couple of places to look around and within to improve my wellbeing, and I hope these spur ideas for your reflection, too:

Look Around: Examine Your Work Environment
I work from home, and that means I can’t examine my workspace without examining my home environment. Like some, after a long week, I prefer to rest or spend time with family or friends on the weekends. Sometimes those social connections away from home don’t leave me the opportunity to tidy up or reorganize my surroundings – like my physical workspace – before a busy work week. When my work environment feels disorganized and messy, my brain feels the same way. Another challenge working from home is the monotony that comes with office-space surroundings that always stay the same.

One of the ways I address both these concerns is to change my scenery. Oftentimes I clear my head by taking a walk, meeting a friend for lunch or going to a local cafe to order breakfast and coffee before I start my work day. One way I address a disorganized work environment is to do something to spruce things up – buy a new pen or notebook, move my books to another side of my desk, or reorganize my notes. All of these simple actions can be motivating and healing for me – mentally and physically.

Look Within: Check-in with Yourself
When I’m feeling off or overwhelmed, I have learned to set aside two to five minutes to check in with myself. During this meditation time I ask myself a few questions:

  • How am I feeling today?
  • Do I sense tension anywhere in my body?
  • Do I need to reach out to a friend or family member to help resolve any inner conflict I’m experiencing?
  • What is one good thing that has happened today?
  • What am I grateful for?

 
Though I’d like to say that I only have to do this once a day, I’d be lying. Most of the time I reflect like this multiple times a day, or I do breathing exercises to help me recenter myself. Over the past few years, these exercises have proven to be invaluable tools that help me stay healthy.

Your inner world and outer world are connected. Recognizing that reality is a step toward being less conflicted and achieving a more harmonious life. Looking around and within enables us to do a lot of the tough work ourselves in achieving a healthy state of mind. As you examine the relationship between your inner and outer worlds, keep in mind that there are support tools to use along your journey. Volunteering, connecting with friends, talking to a trusted family member and seeking professional help are great ways to help you “look around, look within” so you can live your very best life.

Resources:

  • MHA Screening: Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. The screenings are free, confidential, and scientifically validated.
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in distress – you don’t need to be suicidal to reach out. Call 1-800-273-8255 to be connected with a crisis counselor. Crisis counselors who speak Spanish are available at 1-888-628-9454.
  • NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Health: This organization also highlights several identity and culture dimensions to provide reflective care for every individual affected by mental struggles. Their Connection Recovery Support Groups assist those struggling with mental health. The organizations’ Family Support Groups assist family members of those who struggle with mental health struggles.

 
Mental health and wellbeing are very important to me. Here are some of my previous blogs with additional thoughts on the topic, as well as other tips and resources.

Focus on Social Wellness to Nurture Mental Health

Mental Illness Awareness Week

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