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  • Felice Cohen

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

May is National Mental Health month. Yes, this sunny, spring-in-your-step month focuses on “raising awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness.” While there are extreme cases of mental health that derive from traumatic events, there’s the other end of the spectrum, like battling a day of the blues.

But however you’re feeling, outside stress doesn’t help.

Years ago I worked as the Chief of Staff to the president at Hunter College. My days were long and demanding. To counterbalance this, when I left my office on Lexington and East 68th Street, I walked across Central Park to the west side and all the way up to Broadway and 96th Street to catch the subway home. Those 45 minutes were highly valuable to keeping my sanity. The remedy of fresh air, exercise, and nature created what I called a Mental Flush. It cleared my mind of the stressors of the day.

And whose days aren’t filled with stressors? To Do lists, plans, events, car pools, meals, emails, reading, texts, errands, laundry, dishes – it’s endless. Not to mention a messy home or a messy desk doesn’t send “good vibes” to your psyche. A mess – no matter how many times people claim, “But I know where everything is” – is still a mess, and that only adds more stress.

Even if you’re feeling okay, it’s still important to do something good for your own mental health every now and then. We go for routine checkups to the doctor and dentist, right? While cycling, yoga, and long walks are great, anything where you can find some quiet time to be alone with your thoughts while at the same time moving your body helps.

Before I sit down to write, I give myself a half hour to straighten up. This includes putting away clothes, paying bills, answering emails, recycling, washing dishes, anything that needs to get done. While I do this to clear away distractions, the real bonus is that in completing these little tasks it also creates an incentive to get other, more important ones done.

I don’t organize to help my mental health, but being organized does help keep the blues away.

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