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A Matter of Perspective

When it gets cold out, sometimes it can make a person feel a little “cold” on the inside, too. I am not talking about the temperature of your insides, but of your mental health.

Too often we forget that our mental health isn’t a “one and done” part of our lives. It is something we need to think about often to keep ourselves out of the doldrums.

Protecting our mental health is just as important as protecting our physical health. As many of us know, not doing so can have an impact on our physical and spiritual health, as well.

As a person who suffers from depression from time to time, I know the importance firsthand of taking care of myself mentally, physically and spiritually.

The following are five suggested ways to help you protect your mental health from the article: Taking Care of Your Mental Health by Mark Jacobson, a peer support specialist from Winona.

1. Express your feelings.

Talk to someone. A friend, a hotline, a warmline, a counselor, your pet. I talk to my cats a lot! LOL! I hope they never learn to speak English!

2. Set Boundaries.

Learn to say “no.” You can’t do everything. In the winter, especially for those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) you might need to say “no” to evening events. Lack of sunlight can be a real trap for anyone, but even more so for those who struggle with SAD or depression or other mental health concerns.

Jacobson suggested that this might include not checking emails at night, not attending gatherings you don’t like or not answering your phone at certain times of the day.

3. Take care of your physical health.

Eat a healthier diet. Get enough sleep. Take a walk. I recently bought an exercise bike. I set it up in my living room. When I watch TV I ride the bike. Not all the time, mind you, but sometimes and having that little ride can help take some of the day’s pressures and minimize them.

4. Find a coping mechanism for you.

Do what works for you. Some people journal, other people play musical instruments. Still others have other healthy activities or hobbies that can help them with tough times or even the daily stress of life.

5. Ask for help if you need it.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. As Jacobson suggests, “There are mental health professionals and services available to help you manage your symptoms.” I might add, sometimes it is just nice to know there are professionals out there who can help you manage your life in ways you might not always think about such as financial advisors. I am not much of a cook and the thought of it sometimes stresses me out. I am considering one of those home delivery meal things where they send you everything you need for your meals and how to make the stuff.

The bottom line is, it is up to you and I to take care of our mental health just like all other parts of our lives. But just because it is up to us doesn’t mean that we can’t ask for help if we need it.

Like a cut that won’t stop bleeding, sometimes we need a “stitch or two” to make things better.

I will end with this quote by Anne Lamott: Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you!

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