Good Sunday morning, everyone! It is Mental Illness Awareness Month so let’s talk about our mental health.

At the Kevin Hine Event at Second Church of Christ recently, Kevin asked those in attendance to raise their hands if they ever have had mental illness. Mental illness means depression, anxiety, addiction issues and the list goes on. Close to half raised their hand.

Did you know that there are three things that are key to our physical well-being and they also have the same great importance to our mental health?

I am sure you already know what I’m going to say, but sometimes we need a reminder.

Sleep. The best concept for sleeping is going to bed and rising at roughly the same time each day and falling asleep without your cell phone beeping or flashing nearby. If our sleep is disturbed or we don’t get enough, we may feel sluggish, less able to focus and have a lower threshold for stress.

If you have trouble falling asleep try a white noise machine, meditating, journaling, praying or reading before bedtime. Improving our sleep habits can be the first step in improving our mental health.

Nutrition. When we don’t eat in line with what our bodies need or we eat things that we know are irritating our system, we don’t feel well.

When we don’t eat the foods, our bodies need or like, it taxes our system and binds it from being able to handle stress and cope effectively.

Exercise. Moving our bodies is a way for us to feel powerful, strong and capable and improve our mood. You don’t have to join a gym or train to run a race, find something that interest you so you will stick with it.

Exercise is the key to building confidence and fighting stress.

Sleep, nutrition and exercise are deeply linked together. We sleep better when we move our bodies and when we aren’t hopped up on caffeine or sugar. We exercise better when we get enough sleep and are fueling our bodies with what we need to perform well.

When we begin to get these three things in check, both our physical a mental state may begin to improve or heal itself.

It all starts with us being a good role model for others. Let’s start improving our own health and encouraging others along the way. You might just safe someone’s life, it might even be your own.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512

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