May is Mental Health Month
In 1949, Mental Health America established Mental Health Awareness Month, and every year since, MHA and its affiliates have worked toward making Americans more aware of the necessity for good mental health for everyone.
This year, Mental Health Month’s goal is for participants to explore “the topics of animal companionship (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.”
These are topics that are relevant to all Americans, the organization notes, but especially significant for those with chronic health conditions.
Did you know that, according to studies, interaction with animals has the ability to help those who are critically ill? Petting or just being in the company of animals can reduce stress, anxiety, and boredom. Mood can improve, and heart rate and blood pressure are often reduced.
One study found that people who attend religious services monthly showed a 22 percent lower risk of depression, and in those with heart disease, being religious or spiritual led to healthier behaviors, higher life satisfaction and generally better quality of life.
We all know that having a good laugh makes us feel better. But that’s not just temporary. Stress and its resulting hormones over time can lead to serious damage of the mind as well as the body. Humor and laughing can reduce stress-related problems such as blood clots and heart conditions.
Activity and connection to other people are vital to mental health. Having strong social connections to other people has been shown to increase longevity, improve recovery from mental illnesses and stress, and even help reduce blood pressure. Activities such as reading, playing board games or musical instruments, and dancing, according to one study, could reduce the risk of developing dementia.
If you or someone you know has been struggling with mental health, contact your doctor as soon as possible to get the necessary help.
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