Knowing how to handle ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) can reduce anxiety and increase wellbeing. Recently, in ANTs—Automatic Thoughts Can Ruin Your Picnic, I explored how ANTs can be pesky little creatures that get in the way of our living life fully. These automatic negative thoughts that pop into our minds in certain situations can cause great stress and anxiety. They can even intensify depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. We all have ANTs (they’re not exclusive to mental illness). Unfortunately, it’s natural for the human mind to get stuck in unhelpful thought patterns that drag us down. There are ways to deal with ANTs so they don’t ruin the proverbial picnic of your life. Here are three approaches whose effectiveness has been proven by research.
Mental Health Awareness Month, observed every May, places a spotlight on mental health and mental illness. The terms mental health and mental illness are broad terms, encompassing a lot (it can be argued that because these terms involve brain and body, mind and spirit, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and relationship with self and others, mental health and mental illness are truly everything. I think that that is indeed true; however, because it’s difficult to bring awareness to “everything,” here are just five specific things you should know about mental health and mental illness for mental health awareness month.
Mental Health Awareness Month is a great time for self-care and nurturing your own mental health and wellbeing. It’s fitting that this important mental health month is in May. May is spring in full bloom. Buds unfurl to become leaves. Spring flowers such as rhododendrons and tulips brighten our world. Spring, and Mental Health Awareness Month, is a time for each of us to nurture and care for ourselves so we bloom and grow.
Creating balance in life is one of the most important components of mental health and wellbeing. The idea of balance for mental health is that, instead of driven by stress, pulled in multiple directions, sometimes tipping one way and sometimes tipping other ways, we stay centered in one spot, calmly doing life tasks. The idea of living a harmonized life is valid and legitimate. Experiencing a sense of evenness reduces anxiety and stress, replacing them with harmony around us and within us. However, the mere fact that we need to strive for balance implies that we’re rather imbalanced. And because we’re off-center (and likely stressed, anxious, or otherwise challenged), righting ourselves can be difficult.