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Thu, Oct. 17

Tips to improve your state of wellness

Mental health providers and advocates across the country are gearing up for Mental Health Awareness Month recognized each May. Yes, it's only April, but a local committee has been working for months to plan local health-related educational, awareness and fundraising activities. This committee is almost ready to roll out its May calendar of events, which incorporates the 2014 national theme "Mind Your Health" as established by Mental Health America. Look for more information on these mental health month opportunities in this column, in the Courier, and at in the weeks ahead.

Wellness is defined by the National Wellness Institute as an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.

Because living a "successful existence" means something different to each individual, wellness can be many things, but it generally includes the pursuit of health, defined by the World Health Organization as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" and working toward achieving one's full potential.

Here are some tangible tips from Mental Health America to improve your state of wellness:

• Connecting with others can help you to enjoy the times when you are alone.

• Staying positive can improve your mood and your health.

• If you quit smoking now, in 20 minutes your heart rate drops, and in 12 hours the carbon monoxide (a gas that can be toxic) in your blood drops to normal.

• Exercising in "spurts" can be just as effective as continuous exercise.

• Helping others may help you experience less depression.

• Drinking beverages with caffeine should be stopped 6-8 hours before bed to ensure a more restful sleep.

• Creating joy and satisfaction can be easy with little things such as making a gourmet meal while listening to your favorite music, treating yourself to a massage, or even taking a few moments to admire nature.

• What you drink is just as important as what you eat.

• Spirituality can give you a sense of purpose and meaning.

• Writing down your problems can help shift your thinking about the issue and ultimately improve your mood.

• It is essential to choose a provider who understands the importance of the both of you working collaboratively regarding your health care.

• Stress management techniques are important because chronic (long-lasting) stress can change your brain and the way you function.

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