By Morgan Hill

Each May since 1949, Americans have observed Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health affects how we feel, think and act. With one in five Americans experiencing a mental illness at some point in their life, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it is imperative to maintain your mental health. Here are some tips to help you strengthen your mental health.

Focus on the positive

Looking at a glass half-full instead of looking at a glass half-empty is a great first step in focusing on the positive. Viewing our experiences in a negative way can result in having a negative outlook on life. Making small positive changes in your life can be as simple as making a list of the people and things you are thankful for in your life. These small changes will keep you optimistic and looking for what keeps you upbeat and excited.

Exercise

Whether it’s hot yoga or a run around the block, exercising draws you out of the house and gets your body moving. Exercise also releases endorphins, which create a mood-boosting euphoria effect in your mind, according to Medical News Today. Schedule at least 30 minutes into your day or add small increments of exercise throughout the day like taking the stairs to keep yourself moving.

Spend time with a furry friend

Animal companionship can decrease anger, anxiety, depression and general distress, according to Mental Health America. If you don’t have a furry friend of your own, ask a neighbor or friend to borrow theirs for a few hours. If you have a pet of your own, look on Facebook for local pet related events where you and your pet can meet new people!

Get a good night’s rest

We’ve all woken up after a restless night feeling irritable and wanting to go back to sleep. By making a few adjustments to your nighttime routine, sleep can come faster and easier and you’ll wake up feeling well-rested. Try creating a sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day or turning off your electronics before getting into bed.

Be around people that lift you up

The most important thing is to remember that you are not alone. Friends, family and coworkers surround you if you need someone to talk too. There are also hotlines and online chat rooms of people who are willing to talk to you day or night. Surrounding yourself with people who encourage and motivate you can turn any bad thought into a positive one.