May is one of our favorite times of year, and not just because warm weather is gaining momentum and sunshine is an almost daily occurrence. May is also home to Mental Health Month, a celebration designated to raise awareness of mental health topics and to educate everyone how to be a positive advocate for themselves and for those they care about.

This year, Mental Health Month will feature local screenings and support groups throughout the Chicagoland area. Check out a few resources near you to see what events you could attend. In the meantime, though, take time to learn how mental health often relies on consistent, positive lifestyle habits and choices. This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is built on the truth that small changes add up to make big progress on your mental health goals. Here are just a few habits you could adopt to keep your health in check.

Move your body
Fitness does more than keep your body in shape. In fact, moving your body daily can lead to increased feelings of happiness and decreased feelings of loneliness or depression. The good news is that fitness doesn’t have to be huge to make a huge difference in how you feel. Simply try to move your body for 20 minutes every day in a way that makes you feel good. Go for a walk with your friends around the neighborhood, take a yoga class offered through the park district, swim at your local pool, or turn up your favorite music and dance it out.

Rest your body
Just as important as moving your body is resting it. Getting enough sleep is imperative when it comes to good mental health habits. Be sure you are going to bed at a consistent time every night, even if that means setting an alarm reminding you to begin getting ready for sleep. Keep your phone out of your bedroom, and try not to disrupt your sleeping pattern too much throughout the week. Learn more healthy sleep habits here and start incorporating them into your schedule tonight.

Connect with others
Isolation or feelings of loneliness can increase depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. Take time daily to connect with others, whether by grabbing coffee with a co-worker or meeting a pal for dinner. Even connecting with a loved one over the phone daily can increase your feelings of support and encouragement, both vital to keeping you mentally healthy.

Know where to go for help
Even the most active, best sleeping, most connected person can experience mental health setbacks. It’s okay to have a bad day, month, or year as long as you know how to ask for help and where to go. Be sure you have a mental health team nearby, including a counselor that you meet with regularly.

This May, make a commitment to making small changes that will keep you healthier in the long run. We support you and are cheering you on!

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