Experts say self-care key to maintaining good mental health - FOX34 Lubbock

Experts say self-care key to maintaining good mental health

LUBBOCK, Texas -

Depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses affect millions of Americans.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and professionals and advocates alike are working to break the stigma around these mental disorders and promoting ways of maintaining good mental health.

The key to managing these illnesses are coping skills and overall positivity, according to experts.

"We feel that if you maintain good physical health, good spiritual health, access positive supports, just overall stay positive yourself, that it will lead to good mental health," Bobby Carter, crisis director and associate administrator at Sunrise Canyon Hospital in Lubbock, said.

Stressors in one's life, such as a job, can result in poor mental health, Carter said.

"If you have a very, very difficult, very stressful job for example, you have to make sure you're taking care of yourself," Carter said.

After leaving work, it is important to take the necessary steps of self care, he said. That can include getting a good night's rest or spending time with family, friends and other loved ones. 

Carter said he recommends writing down a list of things one enjoys, such as watching a movie, reading a book or going to the gym. An hour should be set aside each day to focus on these types of things.

Exercise should also be a priority, he said.

"Not only does exercise promote good physical health, but also, there's studies that show it supports good mental health," Carter said.

Greg Foster, a yoga instructor at BODY by Indigenous in Lubbock, incorporates mental self-care into his practice.

"A lot of people think that yoga is just a lot of exercises or poses, and a lot of people are sometimes intimidated by that," Foster said. "But really, yoga means to bond connect the mind with the body and the spirit."

Meditation can be beneficial, helping to alleviate stress and clear the mind, Foster said.

"If you've had a stressful day in the mind, you can go to a yoga class and lay on your mat and be still," he said, "and that's what yoga is feeding you."

Individuals who have depression or anxiety can feel as though yoga can have the same effect as a drug or antidepressant, Foster said.

"Just finding stillness on the mat, breathing and allowing the mind to just dial down to zero," he said.

Carter adds it is important to seek help if needed. Simply confiding in a friend or family member can be the first step to being mentally healthier.

"Never be ashamed to admit to someone that you're having a tough time," Carter said. "Because everybody has tough times, and it's important how we deal with those tough times."

If you're going through a mental health crisis, contact Sunrise Canyon Hospital's 24-hour helpline at 806-740-1414.

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