10 Ways to Make Your Mental Health a Priority on World Mental Health Day
2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenge. These challenges have made the mental health and wellness of not only our veteran community but our entire nation – more critical now than ever before.
Team RWB, Starbucks, TrueCar, and the Pledge10 Collective of military and veteran service organizations are challenging you to tag 10 and take 10 on October 10, World Mental Health Day.
Pledge10 by reaching out to 10 battle buddies, and taking at least 10 minutes to check in on your own mental health hygiene and make a plan to adjust habits as needed. We’ve put together 10 ways you can take 10 with Team RWB below!
1. Eat Healthy
Mental health and wellness from the inside out and food can be a great benefit. Take 10 today by making a healthy meal, or identifying ways that you can better fuel your body through food.
Ironman All-World athlete Rachel Brenke believes that eating healthy is all about setting goals, identifying what works for you, and finding balance!
“You have to offer yourself grace for when you do slip up, and getting right back on track,” said Rachel Brenke.
Physical activity is a cornerstone of what we do at Team RWB. There’s increasing evidence that it’s effective in supporting solutions for both mental and physical health challenges.
Take 10 today by getting active. 1st Lt. Juliet Sandford, Ms. Veteran America 2020 Finalist, will ruck 10 miles on October 10 – her own way to Pledge 10 and shine a spotlight on the benefits of physical activity on mental health.
“Life can often feel chaotic and out of our control especially when we are always taking care of others. Physical activity helps me regain my center of focus; for that window of time, it’s about taking care of myself. When I have the physical or tangible reminder of ‘it’s okay to focus on/take care of me’ it also serves as a reminder to take care of myself mentally and emotionally as well,” said Juliet Sandford.
Stress can cause insomnia and loss of sleep can become a stressor. Sleep is an often overlooked, but critical component of mental and physical health. Take a look at your sleep patterns to see if they can be improved.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has some great tips to help you sleep in this VAntage Point blog post, and USAF LTC (Dr.) Mark Cucuzzella Ret., a competitive runner, has some great perspective to offer on rest, recovery, and sleep in this Team RWB blog.
“I think sleep is probably the most underappreciated recovery tool because sleep is where repetitive processes take place – from many aspects, not just muscle recovery, it’s brain cleansing and hormonal resets,” said Dr. Cucuzzella.
4. Avoid Alcohol
During stressful times, people sometimes turn to alcohol to relieve stress or cope with symptoms of mental health challenges. The misuse of alcohol in this way can lead to substance use disorders (SUD) or other health, relationship, and employment challenges.
Take 10 today by avoiding alcohol, assessing your relationship with alcohol, or reaching out if you need assistance. The Department of Veterans Affairs has information, resources, and a self-assessment tool to help.
5. Stay Connected
Staying connected is a great way to combat the isolation that comes after separating from the military, or even to combat the isolation Americans across the globe are feeling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Experts from the Defense Health Agency say that friendships and relationships also positively impact physical health. These relationships are still possible even while social distancing. Organizations and companies are offering various online events ranging from art workshops (our friends at Community Building Art Works offer arts workshops for veterans, service members, and their families) to video game tournaments, and more.
The Team RWB App offers daily opportunities to get involved virtually and tackle challenges with veterans and supporters across the nation.
“A sense of belonging to a greater community improves your motivation, health, and happiness. When you see your connection to others, you know that all people struggle and have difficult times. You are not alone,” said Captain Kimberly Elenberg DNP, MS Chief of Total Force Fitness at Defense Health Agency.
6. Take a tech break
Staying connected is important, but it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the news and social media. If you’ve found yourself feeling overwhelmed, take 10 with a technology break. Go for a walk, spend some time journaling, or play a board game – on your own or with family and friends. This blog is full of ideas!
7. Meditate or Breathe
Meditation and breathing exercises are great ways to take a few moments to connect with yourself, identify where you’re at, and address challenges you are facing.
If you’re looking for a guided meditation program, look no further than this Open Road Challenge meditation session presented by our partners at TrueCar. If you’re interested in coherent breathing exercises, check out this practice by Matt Jared, Co-Founder of United We Om.
Headspace, in partnership with Blue Star Families, also offers free subscriptions to service members and their families. Starbucks employees also receive free access to Headspace as part of the company’s commitment to address diverse mental health needs
8. Ask for help
Asking for help is a sign of strength. While you’re taking 10, if you find yourself with overwhelming feelings or believe you would benefit from professional assistance, there are many resources out there for you.
If you’re in crisis, the Department of Veterans Affairs Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255) and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) are here for you right now. If you’re looking for counseling or other types of assistance, click here for a list of partners and resources for veterans and their families.
9. Stay informed
Staying up to date on mental health and physical health best practices is a great way to support and encourage your own mental health hygiene.
Using trusted sources, like this National Institutes of Health Emotional Wellness Toolkit, can offer new ideas and new ways to adjust your habits and make a plan.
10. Get outside
Sometimes, just getting outside for a walk around the neighborhood, going on a short road trip to a national park, or even sitting outside with your pet makes all the difference.
Take 10 by getting outside, even if just for 10 minutes. If you’re looking to get outside for a bit longer, check out these short road trip destinations near military bases presented by our partners at TrueCar.
Learn more about Pledge10 and the Pledge10 collective at teamrwb.org/pledge10.