By April Sullivan
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think one thing for sure throughout this pandemic is I have been more “Aware” of my mental health. The ups, the downs, the all arounds of my mood, my security, my anxiousness. Lots of new feelings, as well as feelings I am having all at once. It has been quite a roller coaster!
My friend Carol sent me this infographic (sourced from reddit.com) about Happiness Chemicals and how to hack them. It’s a great reminder that even doing little things can help us move toward a healthier mental state.
For example, doing self-care activities such as taking the time to make art just for the fun of it can release dopamine into the system. So can eating food, one of my favorite activities!
Or playing with a dog can release oxytocin. Walking in the sun and enjoying nature can release serotonin. Eating Dark chocolate or watching a comedy can release endorphins.
The science of neurotransmitters and what they do and don’t do is a little more complicated than this infographic but take this list as guide to try things and pay attention to how they make you feel. Does mediation help you relax? Great, try it anytime you feel anxious.
All the little things we do each day are a step in the right direction! I know the artists in our Spring Expressions virtual art exhibition are exploring their own mental health in their artwork as well. I can see it when I view the pieces, such as David’s “Huggy Bear” or Nancy’s “Peaceful Fall.”
Dedicated volunteer Susan Beattie (2019 Director’s Commendation award winner) in San Antonio has been coordinating and hosting an annual exhibition every October for Mental Illness Awareness Week. She has now taken on a second exhibition, this one for Mental Health Awareness Month.
Although, typically these exhibitions are displayed at a San Antonio area gallery with a great gallery opening event, we don’t have the opportunity for an in-person opening, so we are doing what we can do at this time.
I suggest sitting down with some dark chocolate (or your favorite snack) and looking through the online Expressions exhibit today. Then, go sit in the sun, take a walk, or create your own art in response. Take care of yourself!
What little things do you do to help take care of your mental health? Share in the comments below!