Mississippi’s Mental Health Crisis Affects Everyone
With a traumatic, painful past stained by slavery and the economic challenges that many Mississippians still face, it makes complete sense that the blues were born in Mississippi. Today, many Mississippians, including plenty of clients and agents, still face their fair share of blues. So, in an effort to help all walks of life help heal and lead healthier, more fulfilling lives during Mental Health Awareness Month, here are some simple ways to promote better mental health.
Why Agents Should Prioritize Their Mental Health
Mississippi may be ranked 45th in terms of mental health, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it a priority in your life. An agent who cares for themselves won’t just be happier — they’ll help their clients have a better experience and deepen bonds they already have with friends and family. Even the research suggests that happy people have a better chance for professional success, making the investment in your own mental health even more worth the risk.
How to Boost Your Mental Health
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, our overall mental health centers on our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. As it turns out, there are many simple things we can do to help boost our own moods, including but not limited to:
- Regular Exercise: If you’re able, regular exercise can help your body release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine — all of which help fight stress and promote better sleep. It can also help you keep your mind sharp. The good news is that you don’t have to be an Olympian either; just take a 30-minute walk a few times a week. If that’s still too much, simply do what you can, and your efforts will add up over time.
- Eat Healthy & Stay Hydrated: Nutritional psychiatry is a relatively new field, but more and more evidence suggests that what we eat can affect how we feel. Obviously modifying your diet is never easy, so start small. Try cutting out sugary drinks and replacing them with water. If you miss your flavor kick, add some fruit to the mix for a refreshing beverage you can sip all summer.
- Get Some Sleep: It may seem obvious that when you’re well-rested, you feel better. However, the science shows that sleep is extremely important when it comes to processing emotions and improving mood. According to The Primary Care Collective, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (areas of the brain that are largely responsible for processing emotions) showed much higher levels of activity in well-rested patients. Understandably, having a sleep routine is critical to improving your overall mental health.
- Reduce Stress: Reducing stress is always easier said than done, but if done regularly, it can pay dividends in terms of improving your mood. If you’re into meditation, breathing exercises, or just sitting and counting your blessings in silence, go for it! Reducing your stress doesn’t have to mean picking up yoga. Creative outlets like playing or listening to the blues, painting, writing, or building something can be an effective way to help shed those anxieties, too.
- Stay Connected: Many studies suggest that loneliness and depression can feed off one another, so it’s important to disrupt that cycle. If you’re feeling lonely, reach out to family or friends just to see how they’re doing. If they’re in short supply, you can try volunteering (which has its own depression-lowering benefits), joining a club, or even joining an online support group.
There’s No Replacement for Therapy
While these tips help to improve your chances of improving your overall mental health, they’re not a replacement for seeking help from a mental health professional. If you’re struggling financially, there are still resources available to help you get treatment.
If you or somebody you know is going through a crisis, know that there is help available — you don’t deserve to suffer alone. As always, dial 911 in an emergency. Or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255). You can also text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1.800.799.4889. All calls are confidential, so again — please do not suffer in silence.