strive for better health

Take a Look Around

It’s National Mental Health Month, and this year’s focus is on how your surroundings affect your mental health. Your surroundings affect how, when, and whether your needs are met, which in turn affects your mental health. And there are several things you can do to change your surroundings, if needed, and protect your well-being.

  • Keep It Tidy: Your home doesn’t need to be spotless, but clutter can contribute to depression, stress, confusion, and inability to focus. Tips for keeping a tidy space include putting things away right after you use them, taking time to organize your space, and getting rid of items you don’t need or use.
  • Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary: Poor sleep can trigger or worsen mental health conditions, and it’s not good for your physical health either! Keep your room cool (between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit), dark, and quiet at night. Avoid screens before bed, as the blue light can disrupt your sleep schedule, and use blackout curtains to block exterior light, especially if you work a night shift and need to sleep during the day. A noise machine or white noise app can cut down on bothersome sounds.
  • Connect With Your Neighborhood: Not everyone feels safe in their neighborhood, but there are steps to maximize feelings of safety. Get to know your neighbors, not only to create fulfilling connections, but to learn who in the neighborhood you can feel safe with and share resources with. If your neighborhood is at risk of gentrification, shop at local businesses to help them stay open. Advocate for policies that provide support, resources, and harm repair vs. punishment—crime occurs more often in areas where people’s needs aren’t being met.
  • Take in Nature: You don’t have to journey into the wilderness to benefit from nature. Even a walk through your local park or a 15-minute soak in the sun can boost your mental health. A few houseplants can have similar effects, if you don’t have good access to outdoor green spaces.

Other national observances in May include National High Blood Pressure Education Month and National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. The good news is that the same self-care that helps you maintain healthy blood pressure and good physical fitness—like moving every day, sleeping well, and eating a balanced diet—will also benefit your mental health!

Remember: One of the easiest ways to determine whether you may be experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition is to take a mental health screening. Even if you’re just feeling a little “off,” a screening can help you determine whether you’re just having a tough day or whether it’s time to talk with a health care professional.


Top Health

The monthly health promotion and well-being newsletter

Personal Best

Motivating lifestyle choices that promote good health and safety