Column: Taking care of yourself during Mental Health Awareness Month

Shannon Kronlund
Shannon Kronlund

Mental health is all around us, but what exactly is mental health? Mental health is a person's general sense of emotional, psychological, and cognitive wellbeing. Everyone has mental health every day, but it's often ignored unless something is going seriously wrong. The best way to prevent that is to pay attention to your mental health even when you feel okay or even good.

“Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. In fact, it is just the opposite. Caring for our mental health helps us to meet our full potential in all areas of our life,” says Shannon Kronlund, Director of Outpatient Services at Northwestern Mental Health Center. “When we care for our own emotional and social health, we increase our resiliency and capacity to help others and ourselves.”

Notice how your mental health is constantly changing. Yesterday might have been a better day than today, and that's okay. Part of being human is moving with your emotions and knowing when something isn't going exactly how you want it to. Check in with yourself and reach out to your friends and family for help when you need to take some time for your mental health or don't know what to do.

Here are a few tips for taking care of yourself:

• Accept yourself as you are.

• Write down your daily accomplishments rather than, or in addition to, your to-do list. Celebrate those accomplishments.

• Create a self-care plan to support your mental well-being in your everyday life. Finding joy, connecting with others, helping others, learning something new, and finding daily spiritual connections can help us flourish.

• Learn how to cope with stress with practical exercises like taking a few slow deep breaths, focusing on each of your senses, and trying to be fully present in what you're doing.

• Make small goals. Taking time for yourself is not something that will happen overnight.

• Get out in nature, be present with your surroundings.

Find more tips on taking care of your mental well-being in the Minnesota Department of Health Wellness Guide (PDF).

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call our 24/7 Support & Crisis Helpline at 1-800-282-5005 or text MN to 741741. You are not alone, and someone is always available to talk.

Northwestern Mental Health Center is a private, non-profit community mental health organization based in Crookston. Our organization provides a full range of mental health and substance use services to individuals, children and families in northwestern Minnesota. NWMHC has more than 130 employees and partners with a team of professionals throughout the community to ensure that those seeking assistance receive the best possible options for their care. For more information, visit