Let’s be real: The current global news stream is far from uplifting. And while there’s always hope for peace and prosperity, these days we could use a collective pick-me-up. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, in 2020, 1 in 5 adults experienced a mental illness, and 1 in 6 adolescents experienced a major depressive episode—concerning numbers. And while the pandemic may finally be easing, the fallout remains. The major message? We are not alone. Anxiety and depression are prevalent, yet the global conversation around mental illness is increasing. What’s more, if you are struggling, kick any shame to the curb. Celebrities, politicians, rock stars, fitness leaders, and athletes are all speaking up about their mental health struggles. So, as we pick up the pieces—physically and mentally—from the past few years, there is major inspiration and support around mental health. Here are a few to keep on your mental fitness radar.
One of the simplest ways to boost serotonin and increase your mood? Get sun kissed. It’s scientifically proven that exposure to the sun—even for just 10 or 15 minutes—will benefit your mood and can stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Vitamin D is integral to the body (think better sleep, lower blood pressure, and stronger bones). It can also reduce inflammation and modulate cell growth. It can be challenging to absorb enough Vitamin D from food sources, so consider the sun your natural source (and slather on the sunscreen if you’ll be outside for more than 15 minutes).
“Hi, HOW ARE YOU” PROJECT
Launched in Austin, Texas, this forward-thinking nonprofit has grown into a global movement. The mission of the Hi, How Are You Project (HHAYP) is to remove mental health stigma, one conversation at a time. Hi How Are You Day is inspired by late musician Daniel Johnston. On January 22 (Johnston’s birthday), people everywhere are encouraged to check in on a neighbor, friend, co-worker, family member, or loved one and ask, “Hi, how are you?” The Project has also launched ongoing media, events, and peer-to-peer training programs fostering dialogue on mental well-being. What’s more, in collaboration with American Campus Communities, the organization recently released findings from the College Student Fall 2021 Mental Wellness Survey. Targeting all levels of college-aged students in the U.S., from incoming freshman to graduate students, “the report reveals that with increased awareness and support, students are comfortable sharing and openly communicating their troubles,” said Dr. Sonia Krishna, a board-certified physician specializing in Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry and Hi, How Are You Project board member.
Spend 10 minutes in the sun for a natural Vitamin D boost!
We are all hearing about the healing effects of meditation. And, like the quick boost from the sun, you don’t have to meditate for more than 10 or 15 minutes to feel the positive outcome. Just like training at a VASA gym, a consistent mental workout routine is equally important. Whether you choose a guided app, group meditation, or prefer to work one-on-one with a meditation coach, give it a go. The cumulative effect is where the power of this simple tool lies. Even stepping away from the computer, class, or work for a five-minute deep-breathing session can calm an overstressed nervous system (which unfortunately most of us are walking around with).
PYM Mood Chews
Launched by Robin Williams’ son Zak, PYM Original Mood Chews are not a cure-all, but if feeling a sense of overwhelm, anxiety, or stress, this dietary supplement of Gaba, L-Theanine, and Rhodiola can naturally help calm the nerves (a mellower alternative to prescription meds and alcohol). Zak’s story is an inspiration, too. Check out why he launched his company here.
We first saw this incredible story on the CBS Sunday Morning Show, and it must be shared! Kids can quickly remind us of what matters most, and a heart-warming project that started out as a few iPhone audio recordings at a small school in Healdsburg, California has since turned into a free national hotline. If feeling blue, simply call 707-998-8410 or 707-873-7862 for words of encouragement and motivation from a group of inspired elementary school children—a small yet impactful dose of pure joy.