May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Hooray! Mental health relates to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. We feel our mental health through the way we think, feel, and act, as well as how we handle stress and relate to others. Everyone at every age and stage of their life has mental health. Similar to how you have to maintain your physical health, mental health should be actively worked on as well. You eat fruits and vegetables and move your body for your physical health to feel good, and you should give that same care to your mental health as well. Here are some ways you can work to maintain your mental health.

1. Therapy

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again—everyone can benefit from therapy! You don’t have to wait for trauma or tragedy to happen before seeking out therapy. And when you do seek out therapy, it does not mean you’re broken or “crazy.” I like to think of therapy as a mental health check-up or physical for your brain. There are all different types of therapy, including online therapy, art therapy, talk therapy, or EMDR. If you’re interested in therapy, ask your primary care physician for a recommendation, go to your school’s counseling center if you’re a student, or look for therapists in your area on

2. Movement

Moving your body is not only good for your physical being, but it’s great for your mind. Light exercise or movement can help improve your mental health or offer a respite from anxious thoughts. Go for a 30-minute walk. Take a yoga class. Dance around your apartment. Getting out of your head and present in your body is great for clearing the mind and getting your heart rate up.

3. Nutrition

Food is like medicine. If you are feeding yourself fresh foods like fruits and vegetables, you’ll likely feel good mentally as well. Of course, comfort foods to help soothe us in times of distress are helpful and sometimes essential, but eating food that is healthy for your body can also help clear the mind. I notice that if I only eat bread, sugar, or junk food without any vegetables for a few days, I feel tired and slow. You can of course consult your doctor for more specific information on what foods might help lift your mood specifically, but overall incorporating fruits and veggies into your diet will help with your mental health as well.

4. Meditation

Meditation and breathwork are proven to help regulate your nervous system and calm the mind. Meditation apps (my favorite is Headspace) offer guided meditations for an affordable price, but you can also look up guided meditations on YouTube for free. If you’re just getting started with meditation, I would recommend starting with guided ones, as the facilitator walks you through the various breathing techniques. 

Without getting fully into guided meditations, simple breathing techniques throughout the day can also help ground you and regulate the nervous system. A box breath or four-part breath is commonly used to calm an anxious mind. To begin, imagine a box or rectangle in your mind’s eye. Starting at the bottom left corner of the box, inhale for four breaths, moving up to the top left-hand corner. Exhale for four breaths, moving across the box to the top right-hand corner. Inhale for four, moving down to the bottom right corner. Exhale for four, moving back to where you started. Repeat as many times as you need.

5. Reach out to a friend

Talking with friends and loved ones about our lives and our struggles is really good for our mental health. It reminds us that we’re not alone and that we have people that care about us.

If you are struggling with your mental health, there are resources available. You can visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), or call the national suicide prevention hotline (800-273-8255) in a time of need. If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. Reach out.

With the news at our fingertips on our phones or other devices, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the bad stuff happening in the world. Social media causes us to compare our lives to those that we follow, while just regular life stuff can get heavy and hard to deal with. Thankfully it has become more “normal” to talk about mental health, self-care, and getting help when needed. Perhaps you are going through a hard time at work or in your personal life, or maybe you just feel a little “off” and want to do something about it. Or maybe you’re still feeling funky after experiencing, oh I don’t know, a global pandemic!! Finding a therapist is a great option for getting your mental health on track and being kind to yourself.

How do you go about finding a therapist?

Once you’ve decided you want to go to therapy, how do you even begin finding a therapist or counselor? A quick Google search of therapists in your area is a great place to start. When I was looking for a therapist I searched therapists in my area on Once you start searching, it’s important to set filters on your search to find therapists within your insurance plan or budget. When searching, look to see what therapists accept your insurance. Some therapists don’t accept insurance but do offer a sliding scale for payment based on income, which is also a great option if you don’t have insurance. All of this information should be found under the therapist’s profile on the website or on their personal website.

What type of therapy are you looking for?

Another thing to consider is what type of therapy you are interested in. Do you want a male or female therapist? Do you want someone that is religious? Do you want a therapist that is LGBTQ+ friendly or is LGBTQ+ themselves? Take a moment to reflect on what is important to you and what qualities in a therapist will help you feel comfortable. Again, all of these details should be listed on the therapists’ profile. 

Additionally, some therapists will do art therapy, meditation, or even assign work for you to do outside of your sessions. Are those things important to you? After you’ve found a few therapists that are within your insurance plan, budget, and values, reach out to them. I recommend reaching out to three to five therapists to see if they are accepting new clients. On Psychology Today’s website, you can email the therapist or call them if their number is listed. If you are nervous about reaching out, an email is a great option. You can send the same message to each therapist, and if it’s your first time seeking out therapy, mention that.

Meeting with a therapist for the first time

After you’ve reached out to the therapists you are interested in meeting, they should all get back to you and mention their availability and insurance they accept, as well as if they have a sliding scale. In my experience using Psychology Today, several of the therapists didn’t accept my insurance even though it was listed on their profile, so you should always confirm before moving forward with an appointment.

After finding a few therapists that line up with your needs, book a consultation appointment. Some therapists also offer a free phone consultation, so you can also do that to decide if it is a good fit or not. When I started therapy I met with two therapists in person for a consultation so I could decide if I felt comfortable with either. Therapists are people too, and just with any new person you are meeting, you might jive with some people better than others. I recommend meeting with two or three therapists and going back to the one you feel most comfortable with. Maybe you want a therapist that is very vocal and asks a lot of questions, maybe you want someone who listens and doesn’t talk as much—these initial consultations will help you figure this out. Be patient during this process!

Choosing which therapist to stick with

After your initial consultation, take some time to reflect and decide which therapist you’d like to go back to. When deciding on your therapist, remember that therapy is for you. Don’t feel bad for telling a therapist you’ve met with once that you will not be returning. Just tell them that you found someone that matches your needs and fits your schedule and thank them for meeting with you. You can even send an email telling them this if that is more comfortable for you.

Once you have chosen a therapist and started going regularly, just remember therapy is a process. Some sessions will be super awesome and productive, while some sessions you might leave feeling worse than when you got there. Think of therapy as self-care and time specifically for YOU. I always like to get myself a treat after therapy like ice cream or wine to thank myself for taking care of me. It sounds silly but keeps the good self-care vibes going the rest of the day.

If you’ve decided to start the process of finding a therapist, congratulations on taking that step. Take your time in choosing someone you feel comfortable with, and remember you are in control and call the shots. Good luck!