By Carl Clark, M.D.
As #MayisMentalHealthMonth comes to a close, I hope you’ve been inspired by the science-backed research we’ve shared. Like many of you, I have a deep commitment to well-being and practice many of its key tenets. My partner and I eat healthfully, exercise and meditate. I nurture my relationships with family and friends. I practice gratitude. When I decided to enroll in the free online Science of Well-Being course, I thought I would learn some things and was not expecting much impact on my well-being because my well-being is already pretty good. I couldn’t have been more wrong. When it comes to well-being, there is always room for improvement.
Here are my two most valuable takeaways that I’m now striving to incorproate in my life year round:
- Gratitude. One homework assignment was to write five things you are grateful for each day for a week. I frequently take time to think about what I’m grateful for and I took the extra step to actually write these thoughts down. I was amazed to discover the effect of this small, extra step on my well-being. It wasn’t enough to just think about what I’m grateful for. Writing created extra intention and focus and had a profound impact on my gratitude. It also improved my partner’s well-being when we shared our lists – further underscoring that your well-being has a ripple effect on those around you.
- Sleep. The course assigns a one-week commitment to adequate sleep. As a busy professional who travels frequently, sleep is rarely a priority. Following the assignment, I set my intention and arranged my schedule as best I could. Wow, three restful nights later, I felt restored. Although a stricter commitment to adequate sleep has been more difficult for me to maintain, I am trying to turn this into a more regular practice.
I hope you will extend your #MayisMentalHealthMonth commitment into a year-long well-being practice. We’ll continue to post the latest research and well-being tips on social media. Follow along and together we can improve the well-being of our community.