May is Mental Health Month. As someone who works for an association representing mental health professionals and a blogger, it’s my duty to acknowledge this month with a lesson about maintaining good mental health. All too often, we focus on the physical aspects of our health and completely ignore our mental state. The American Psychological Association recently issued a report on stress in America and found that we are “on the verge of a stress-induced public health crisis” (APA, 2012). So what can we do about this? I, for one, have found something that has helped me reduce my stress, even to the point of stopping stress-induced headaches: Meditation
I’ve always been skeptical about meditation. Can closing my eyes and focusing on my breath and body really have an impact? How do I know if I’m even doing it right? I decided to give it a try last year when APA offered a 6-week course over the holidays. I was facing a potential tough holiday season and looking for a way to cope. Meditation proved to be exactly what I needed. I’ve continued meditation through APA’s regular 10-week classes. Since then, my overall stress level is down. I can block out negative thoughts rather quickly. I can clear my head and focus on the right now instead of the long to-do list waiting for me back at my desk. Along with my other stress relievers laughing and dancing, meditation has become a part of me. If you’d like to explore the wonderful world of meditation, let me know in the comments and I’ll connect you to our instructor.