May is Mental Health Awareness Month. During this time millions of people, from around the world, will be fighting the stigma against mental illness, educating the public, and sharing their stories.

Yes, I am one of those people.

With so many people suffering, it is important to recognise and understand mental health and the impact it has on you and those around you.

We can’t predict the future, so how can we best prepare ourselves to face challenges as they come our way? There are so many ways to build mental strength, here are just some ideas that work for me:

EXERCISE – Exercising regularly can be one of the most amazing mental strength builders. Whether you prefer group exercise or exercising alone, it is the habit of turning up consistently and regularly and doing something physical which in turn releases our positive hormones.

READING – spending quality time reading, reflecting, and simply escaping the busyness of the day is a proven way to quieten your brain.

REFLECTION, MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS – whatever works for you, but the act of pausing is an amazing doubt reliever and leaves you feeling spiritually nourished.

NUTRITION – getting healthy nutrients into your body to fuel your energy level is one of the most important things you can do to stay strong.  Try to avoid going too long without eating as this can negatively affect your mood.

FAMILY & FRIENDS – spending time with people you love allows you to reset your priorities and see things more clearly. Yes, I know some days you cannot see the wood for the trees and no matter who you are with you feel so alone.

GRATITUDE – practicing gratitude and staying positive in the moment is a de-stressor and fills our head with good thoughts. I do my gratitude every evening and sometimes I am just grateful to be alive.

SLEEP – we all need our rest, and sometimes in the most challenging of times, we get less because we are worrying about everything and nothing which has a negative effect on the one essential thing we need to function well each day. Aim for 6-8 hours of quality sleep and try to develop a positive sleep hygiene routine.

Today, we have the challenge of letting doubt and fear seep into our daily lives. All around us, we are under attack – our jobs, our kids, our family, our friends, and society at large. We are surrounded by noise of one kind or another. We hear more about the bad that can happen or is happening than the good.  The exercises above are just some ways that we can work daily to overcome the fear and negativity that is being thrown our way.

This month, I challenge you to a few things:

  • Reflect on what you do daily to overcome fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
  • Share those exercises with someone in your life, it might help them.
  • Go into situations with an open mind. You never know what might be happening in someone’s life so be understanding. It’s a fact that those of us suffering will always say we are fine. Think before you speak.
  • Take the time to learn something new about mental health and how it is impacting your community.