SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH WITH KM365
May is Mental Health Awareness Month—a time to support the national movement to raise awareness about mental health and help reduce its stigma. With millions of Americans experiencing increased stress, anxiety, and overwhelm self-care and mental health awareness are more important now than ever.
Knowing how to best care for yourself isn’t always easy, especially when time, energy, and resources are lacking. Instead of letting your mental health challenge you, challenge those emotions and regain control with the KM365 Mental Health Month Challenge.
This May, we encourage you to do just one small thing every day to help support your mental and emotional well-being. We’ve mapped out 31 simple ways to boost your mental health with simple lifestyle changes and actionable coping mechanisms. After all, small steps lead to substantial benefits in the long run—and you might find one or more of these strategies that result in a practice you can hold onto for a lifetime.
Day 1: Check In With Your Feelings
To care for your emotional health, you must first identify and understand your emotions at any moment. Set aside a few minutes to check in with yourself and assess what’s going on. Take a deep breath and check in with your mind and body. Listening to these cues regularly will help you better understand how you’re doing—and help you better shape your self-care needs.
Day #2: Start Your Morning Outdoors
Exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning can regulate your circadian rhythm, boost your mood, and increase your energy. Make this the first thing you do before reaching for your phone or looking at your electronics. Set your alarm five minutes earlier and take a tech-free walk or that first sip of coffee in the morning sunshine.
Day #3: Do A Five-Minute Meditation
Even on the busiest days, we all have five minutes to spare. Support your mental health and calm your mind with a five-minute meditation. Studies suggest a mere five minutes of meditation can reduce stress and anxiety and positively benefit self-worth.
Day #4: Repeat Positive Affirmations
Repeating positive affirmations can shift your mindset and help refocus your energy on the positive. Try an “I am” statement for however you want to feel. Whether you write it down, say it out loud, or repeat it in your head is up to you — whatever you choose, just be sure to start the day with a positive affirmation.
Day #5: Unfollow Negative Social Media Accounts
What starts as an innocent scroll through social media can quickly spiral out of control into a hole of comparison and self-judgment. At its worst, the highlight reel of social media can even cause anxiety and depression. Hit that unfollow button on any account that makes you feel less than you’re worth.
Day #6: Be Mindful & Present During Your Meals
Practice mindful eating. Be present during each meal and call upon all of your senses with each bite. What flavors do you taste? How does the texture feel? What aromas do you smell, and what emotions does that elicit? Chew slowly and stop when you’re satiated but not stuffed.
Day #7: Call a Friend or Family Member
Speaking of support, taking a few moments to check in on a friend or family member can make a difference. Maintaining solid relationships can reduce stress and help you feel a sense of purpose. Simply picking up the phone and letting a loved one know you care benefits them and you.
Day #8: Write Down Three Goals For the Week
Take a few minutes today to reflect on the week ahead. Write down three actionable goals for the week, with a plan for accomplishing them. Heading into a new week with motivation and intention can boost your mental health and self-esteem to set yourself up for success.
Day #9: Add One Mindful Thing to Your AM Routine
If mindfulness techniques can improve mental, physical, and emotional health, why not incorporate them into your morning routine? Take a few moments to close your eyes, listen to your breath, and soak in your surroundings. Take a body scan and check how your body is feeling or go for a brief tech-free walk.
Day #10: Make A Small Wins List
With so many things going wrong, it’s easy to feel down about your day-to-day life. That’s why it’s vital to celebrate even the most minor victories to promote happiness and positivity. We always overlook the small win that can give us those small boosts throughout the day, the things often linked to our values, roles, and our goals.
Day #11: Ask For Support
Even if you feel better after ten days of prioritizing your mental health, there’s never a wrong time to ask for help. No, you’re not a burden. And yes, what you’re going through matters — even if you think your struggles seem small. With so much happening daily, we could all use extra support. There’s no need to suffer alone — ask for help!
Day #12: Sign Offline for the Day
If your job allows, sign offline early for the day. Taking a break from social media and the constant need to be “on” and “connected” can be one of the best mental health hacks. Instead, use that spare time to do something mentally stimulating, like listening to a podcast or reading a good book.
Day #13: Tweak Your Space to Make It Joyful
When clutter and other forms of mess are a mainstay in your living space, it can increase your stress levels and make it harder for your brain to focus or even remember things. So take today to make some upgrades to invite joy into your home. Bring some greenery inside or splashes of colors or natural scents that make you happy. These small changes can help soothe your anxious brain and help joy up your space simultaneously.
Day #14: Treat Yourself to Some Self-Care
Two weeks of prioritizing your mental health? Look at you go! Treat yourself to some well-deserved self-care time today to acknowledge your efforts. Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or being selfish. Self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well and feel nourishing. It can be relaxing or calming, intellectual or spiritual, or something you need to get done. Carve out some well-deserved time today to do whatever floats your self-care boat.
Day #15: Schedule Your Movement for the Week
The motivation to move is only sometimes there, so taking a few moments to schedule your workouts can help keep you accountable. It could be a full-on yoga session or something as simple as a walk. If you’re making time to move your body, you’re benefiting your mental health.
Day #16: Check Off Your Hardest Task First
According to research, completing your most challenging task first leads to a more productive and less stressful day. If you don’t have that one dreaded task looming over your head, your day will be much more joyful.
Day #17: Schedule In Some Worry Time
It may sound negative, but “worry time” can be a healthy and cathartic practice. Most of us have this kind of free-floating anxiety. Our brains are negatively skewed, so worries arise all the time. Set aside a 10-minute slot where we can worry healthily. Write your concerns down in a list so it’s something you can see to help you realize what’s in your control versus what isn’t and what actions you can take to mitigate.
Day #18: Pay It Forward with An Act of Kindness
I mean, who doesn’t love a random act of kindness? It can be as simple as buying someone’s coffee, smiling at a stranger, helping someone before they ask, or simply holding the door open. A little effort goes a long way, and it pays off big! Beyond making somebody’s day, helping others can reduce stress, boost your mood, and even support your physical health.
Day #19: Get 30 Minutes of Movement
Exercise has many mental health benefits, from reducing stress to improving your mood and developing a relationship with your breath, which supports general mindfulness. Think of 30 minutes of movement as a shortcut for becoming one with the right here, right now. Try that YouTube yoga class, sweaty slider workout, or dance cardio routine.
Day #20: Donate Three Items You Don’t Use
We all have those items collecting dust in our closets or shelves. Take a quick scan of your belongings and donate three things you don’t use. It could be clothes, books, food, toys, or all of the above. Whatever the case, those unused items could impact someone’s life more than you realize (plus, giving improves our self-esteem and increases happiness).
Day #21: Hit Your Reset Button
When things are stressful or anxiety-inducing, it’s easy to spiral and throw your entire day off the rails. But as with a computer, sometimes we need to pause and hit a reset button to get us back on track. When we reach a level of stress that makes us feel like we are spinning or imbalanced, the best thing we can do is ground ourselves. Try a 5-minute reset breathing exercise during times of extreme overwhelm.
Day 22: Practice Visualizing Your Happy Place
Suppose you’re not into making your mind a blank slate during a traditional meditation session. In that case, visualization might be more your speed. Visualization has a way of dominating the other senses. In other words, if you’re picturing that balmy, sun-kissed beach in the Caribbean in your mind, little stressors naturally melt away because your visualization requires the utmost focus. Plus, it allows you a temporary escape from your current surroundings.
Day 23: Expand Your Recreational Horizons
We know that hobbies promote good mental health. And, in part, it’s because these pursuits are often creative. They get you out of your head—where your to-do list and other stressful thoughts might dominate—and into something new that doesn’t usually have any pressure. Today, try your first go-around at a new hobby, whether cooking, bullet journaling, knitting, or making friendship bracelets to send to your buds near and far.
Day 24: Declutter One Small Space
Consider how you feel when your space is clean and organized. Less stressed, maybe? More in control? Well, there’s a reason you feel this way! According to research, a messy, chaotic environment can lead to a scattered and distracted mind, even promoting anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem. Start small. Commit to cleaning one area first.
Day 25: Crack Yourself Up
You know those rare days when you’ve belly-laughed so hard that you feel like you did a challenging ab workout? That kind of cathartic cackling has much legitimacy for stress relief. Your simple task today is to find something that makes you LOL and let yourself lean into the humor.
Day 26: Do A Feelings Check-In w/ Your Partner
Navigating your needs and those of those closest to you requires open and honest communication. Today, do a check-in exercise with your partner, friend, or loved one to see what feelings are playing in the background as your moods ebb and flow.
Day 27: Take A Present Moment Walk
Walking meditations are no joke: They let you make the body—not the breath—the focal point of your mindfulness practice. Taking a present-moment walk around your neighborhood or even in laps around your yard or house may feel more approachable than hopping on a cushion.
Day 28: Have A Tech-Free Night w/ Loved Ones
Modern technology has taken over such a large part of our lives. Switching off your devices and spending quality time together is essential, whether you are a family of two or ten, living with friends or a partner. Disconnect and focus on having quality fun tonight to connect, relax and enjoy the company around you.
Day 29: Forgive Yourself for A Mistake You’ve Made
Never underestimate the power of forgiveness. Both for yourself and for others. Sometimes, it is even more difficult to forgive yourself than others. Forgiveness can set you free from past pain. It can help you overcome negative emotions from past misdeeds. Forgiveness can make you happier. Today, forgive yourself. It is useless to beat yourself up over something you can’t change, even if it still affects your life today. Most mistakes you have made are worth forgiving yourself for.
Day 30: Have A No Complaint Day
Most of us complain often. We commonly complain about heavy traffic while running late for work or heading straight home after a hectic day at the office. Complaining can negatively affect our lives, even though it may seem small and insignificant. Today, try a no-complaint day and actively try to reduce the amount of complaining you do. You’ll learn how to navigate towards a direction of life where you will start seeing reasons to be more grateful and less grumpy.
Day 31: Reflect and Keep Up the Momentum
Congratulations! You’ve spent the past month prioritizing your mental health and putting yourself first. Consider how you feel now versus when you started. Why not keep the momentum going? Implementing these simple practices into your daily life can ease stress and help you cope during challenging times. Reflect, decide what works for you, and take them with you in June, July, and beyond.
If you or someone you know is showing signs of mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, or depression, they need to know that they are NOT alone. The Charlie Fund is an incredible nonprofit dedicated to creating and growing spaces, programming, and resources that help build connections and break down the stigma around mental health. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has local chapters offering support groups and classes. Extending support or letting someone know where to find resources could make a difference.
ABOUT KINDNESS MATTERS 365 (KM365)
Kindness Matters 365 (KM365) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Boca Raton, FL, dedicated to supporting the well-being of children and teens of all ages through life skill building, connection, and community engagement. Through its afterschool Kindness Clubs and Kindness Anywhere virtual programs, KM365 guides kids to develop resilience, empathy, and the skill set to purposefully care for themselves, one another, and our world. Since its inception, KM365 has grown to encompass over 140 programs in 12 states serving 12,500+ kids and teens throughout the United States. Visit kindnessmatters365.org for more information and stay up-to-date with all things KM365 via Facebook @kindnessmatters365org and Instagram @kindnessmatters365.