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COMMENTARY: Do you know your #Tools2Thrive?

By BRENDA HARRINGTON

NAMI Winchester

While one in five people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health.

The good news is there are practical tools everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency, and there are ways everyone can be supportive of friends, family and coworkers who are struggling with life’s challenges or their mental health.

May is Mental Health Month.

Mental Health America is highlighting #Tools2Thrive — what individuals can do daily to prioritize their mental health, build resiliency in the face of trauma and obstacles, support those who are struggling and work towards a path of recovery.

One of the easiest tools anyone can use is taking a mental health screen at mhascreening.org when they need answers. It’s a quick, free and private way for people to assess their mental health and recognize signs of mental health problems.

This month, we are also exploring topics that can help you build your own set of #Tools2Thrive — recognizing and owning your feelings, finding the positive after loss, connecting with others, eliminating toxic influences, creating healthy routines, and supporting others — all as ways to boost the mental health and general wellness.

It can be easy to get caught up in your emotions as you’re feeling them. Most people don’t think about what emotions they are dealing with, but taking the time to really identify what you’re feeling can help you better cope with challenging situations. It’s OK to give yourself permission to feel.

Life can throw us curve balls, and at some point in our lives we will all experience loss. It may be the end of a relationship, being let go from a job, losing a home or the death of a loved one. It is natural to go through a grieving process.

By looking for opportunity in adversity or finding ways to remember the good things about who or what we’ve lost, we can help ourselves to recover mentally and emotionally.

Connections and the people around us can help our overall mental health — or hurt it. It’s important to make connections with other people that help enrich our lives and get us through tough times. It’s equally important to recognize when certain people and situations in life can trigger us to feel bad or engage in destructive behaviors.

Identifying the toxic influences in our lives, and taking steps to create a new life without them, can improve mental and physical health over time.

Work, paying bills, cleaning, getting enough sleep and taking care of children are just some of the things we do each day, and it is easy to be overwhelmed. By creating routines, we can organize our days in such a way that taking care of tasks and ourselves becomes a pattern that makes it easier to get things done without having to think hard about them.

For each of us, the tools we use to keep us mentally healthy will be unique. The National Alliance on Mental Illness wants everyone to know mental illnesses are real and recovery is possible.

Finding what works for you may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.

By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between work and play, the ups and downs of life and physical health and mental health, and set yourself on the path to recovery.

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

NAMI Winchester has support meetings for family members and peers on the first and third Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. To keep members and the community safe, meetings are currently held via teleconference. For complete information on meetings, call 859-749-3702, and leave a message.

For more information, visit  www.mhanational.org.

For local resources, visit www.winclarkresources.org.