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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

How to Improve Mental Health

95% of us say mental health is important, yet only 26% prioritize it. Although we say mental health has a powerful influence on overall health, we’re doing very little to prioritize our emotional well-being.

Why don’t our actions line up with our beliefs? Aetna dug into the data and consulted with experts to understand this crucial disconnect. After all, doctors now know that supporting mental health is essential to treating complex physical conditions like heart disease and chronic pain.

More and more people are recognizing that mind and body are essentially the same thing. Psychiatrist and Aetna medical director Gabriela Cora, MD, believes that strong mental health comes from paying equal attention to the “four pillars” of good health:

  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Relaxation

Prioritizing mental well-being is a lot more straightforward than you might think. Experts stress that relationships are key to strengthening emotional health. For many Americans, that means shifting our focus toward connecting more with others, preferably offline. Also, don’t forget to prioritize sleep, nutrition, exercise and relaxation. In addition to keeping your body running, these activities work wonders for your emotional well-being.

Experts recommend setting mental health goals around three levels of connection: yourself, your loved ones and your community. Here are some examples:

  1. Connect with yourself. Relax and do something you enjoy that allows you to get in touch with your feelings. That could mean meditation, yoga, massage, reading in a hot bath, walking in nature, journaling/scrapbooking or gardening. Aim for 20 minutes a day.
  2. Connect with others (offline). Spend time with positive, loving people you care about and trust. They can be friends, family, a support group or counselor.
  3. Connect with your community. Expand your social circle or just become more aware of your larger community. Take a class, volunteer, attend a public event with a live audience or practice random acts of kindness with strangers.

While on your journey of improving your mental health, be sure to share your goals with your doctor. Research confirms that doctors play a critical role in supporting your holistic health goals. Your doctor can also help you monitor your progress toward a healthier you both in mind and in body.

For information about on tips to improve your mental health, visit here

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