May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As we all face ongoing challenges, we’re here to say that we’re WILD about caring for mental health and our brains. Now more than ever as we face this tough time in our own ways, it’s important to take care of your noggins. With COVID-19 restrictions slowly being lifted, we’re sharing four ways to safely prioritize mental health during the summer months.
1. Get Some Sunshine – While shelter in place orders are still a reality for a lot of the United States, it’s very much allowed (and encouraged) to spend time outside doing things you love at a safe distance from others. As the weather starts to get warmer and the days get longer, take advantage of the free vitamin D by not pressing snooze on your alarm clock and getting outside to start your day. For over a decade, research has pointed to the undeniable connection between the natural vitamin D you get from spending time in the sun and positive effects on mental health. Some recommendations for things to do outside include:
- Going for a jog or walk around your neighborhood
- Doing some yoga poses on your deck – no props or mat required
- Creating a small herb garden in your outdoor space
- Purchase some used roller blades and practice in your driveway
- Go for a bike ride
- Instead of hitting the supermarket, get your groceries from a local, open-air farmers market (just be sure to wear a mask to protect yourself and others!)
- Whip up a Wild Blueberry Brain Boosting Morning Smoothie and sip with your quarantine buddy in your lawn
No matter what activity you choose, reap the vitamin D mental health benefits you’re soaking in from spending an extra hour outside either solo or with someone you live with.
2. Go Wild with Reading – There’s nothing quite like turning the TV off early and grabbing a good book to crawl into bed with. Not only does limiting screen time before shuteye help you sleep better – which is a key to mental health – but reading has been proven to put our mind into a meditative state and calm us down. However, if reading before bed (or really, ever) is not your ideal way to wind down, try these ideas to make reading more fun:
- Try Book of the Month – each month Book of the Month curates five books, each with a different theme, for you to choose from and it’s sent right to your doorstep. We all love getting mail, right? Even better when it’s a package full of something to keep our brains occupied while hanging out at home
- Host a virtual book club – Maybe reading alone isn’t your thing and that’s ok! Get your family and friends involved by creating a virtual book club. All you have to do is decide which book you want to read as a group, set a ‘finish-by’ date, and host the Zoom call – easy peasy.
- Read outside – Similar to the idea that vitamin D helps our brains, reading outside on a beautiful day can be a relaxing, nice way to spend your day off.
3. Have a Self-Care Night as Often as Possible – When we’re spending so much more time at home, there’s no excuse to not have a self-care night as often as you want. This means going all out – think candles, meditation, face masks, bath bombs, and your favorite sweet treats. We recommend these Gluten Free Wild Blueberry Cheesecake Bars – a sweet treat with the goodness of Wild Blueberries (now that’s self-care)!
4. Eat for Brain Health – Taking care of brain health means putting your mental health first, and an easy first step in doing so is eating foods that are brain healthy. That means loading up your plate with anti-inflammatory foods like fish, leafy greens, healthy fats, and bright colored fruits (our favorite is Wild Blueberries of course). Learn more about eating for brain health and practicing an anti-inflammatory lifestyle by checking out our recent interview with Carolyn Williams, PhD, RD, and author of Meals That Heal.
While May is the time to officially celebrate mental health awareness, the truth is that it’s important each and every day of the year. What are your favorite ways to prioritize mental health? Share on social media and be sure to tag Wild Blueberries for the chance to be featured. Look out for the second blog post in this two-part series where we’ll talk brain health, Alzheimer’s, and Wild Blueberries in June – coming next month!
Please note: these suggestions are not considered medical care or treatment. Seeing a doctor or therapist is recommended for those who are feeling down or want a professional opinion. Support is out there – don’t hesitate to ask for it if you need assistance.