By: Harry W. Rosario-Perez, RCSWI
This month of May we celebrate Mental Health awareness month. As such, it is appropriate to acknowledge a simple truth. Most of us are burdened by stigma. When we talk about mental health and therapy, chances are we fall in one of three categories: 1) Those who embrace it, 2) Those who think therapy is for “the crazies”, or 3) Mental health is a hoax and you should just “get over it!!”. In reality, mental health is not that simple.
More often than not we are all burdened by trauma, learned behaviors, and a whole swarm of emotions which we can’t even begin to understand how to process, and you know what? It’s okay. Most people, because they fall within these stigmas, whether because of upbringing or social context, ignore that our emotions are valid. I often tell my clients, “It doesn’t matter if we see it from a religious standpoint or a scientific standpoint, truth is, if we weren’t meant to have emotions God (however we might interpret the figure of God) would have created us without them or we would have evolved out of them a long time ago”. But that is not the case.
Our emotions are the way we express ourselves, how we experience the world around us, and feel about those we interact with. It’s what allows us to empathize with others. As such, it is important that we take care of them and acknowledge them. Also, our mind is our most precious tool. Did you know that it takes the brain 120 milliseconds to process information and decide on an action? This makes our brain one, if not the most, powerful supercomputers in the world. Our emotions, drugs, and other agents can affect that by playing on our insecurities, our doubts, and our traumas. Therein lies the importance of mental health and therapy. These things can allow us to manage that computer and all its systems. But also, like any computer it can be hacked to work how we want it to work. As such, here are a few hacks to improve your mental health through natural brain produced chemicals with everyday activities!!
Dopamine (Reward/Motivation Chemical)
Oxytocin (Love/Contentment Hormone)
· Finishing a Task
· Celebrating Small Wins
· Selfcare activities
· Listening to Music
· Healthy Relationships
· Hugging Loved ones
· Playing with a Dog
· Helping others
· Holding Hands
· Helping others (Yes, this one is important enough to get it twice)
Serotonin (The Mood Stabilizer)
Endorphins (The Pain Killer)
· Deep Breathing
· Sun Exposure
· Oatmeal/Bananas (amongst other foods)
· Dark Chocolate (Yum!!)
· Vanilla or lavender essential oils