Sara Volk


Health columns seem to be pervasive. Just logging onto your Facebook can bring a flood of "Suggested links" about everything from everyday essential oil uses to five exercises you can do at your work cubicle. But they always seem to overlook one aspect of health that everyone should pay more attention to: your mental health.

The stigma against mental health is, for the most part, undeserved. Your mind can get sick in the same way you might catch a cold. Everyone has"off" or "bad" days. This is normal, and nothing to be ashamed of! When you're having your next bad day, we invite you to try out these tricks to help turn it around and get you on the road to feeling better.

1. Take a nap

Sleep is important. Everyone knows they should get their recommended eight hours of sleep per night. But sometimes, you just need some time to let loose, relax, and get another hour or two. You'd be surprised how refreshed you can feel after a quick snooze!

2. Drink a favorite hot beverage

Whether your poison is tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, a hot drink (especially in the winter and fall) is a great pick-me-up. Getting yourself warm and comfortable is a great way to relax after a stressful or otherwise irritating day, and hot drinks can help expedite that process. Curl up under a blanket, relax with some Netflix, and just veg out.

3. Take a shower

You'd be surprised how much a simple shower can help clear your head! Try to focus on your shower instead of allowing your mind to wander back to the sources of your stress or anxiety. Break out the special shower supplies -- a scented sugar scrub, a fancy facial wash, or perhaps an expensive shampoo. Alternatively, try taking a hot bath, and break out the bath beads or bubble bath.

4. Pamper yourself

Do something you don't get to do very often. Schedule a massage, get a manicure or pedicure, spend the entire day in your pajamas, or go out to eat (if you're a real rebel, eat dessert first!). The trick is having fun, breaking your routine, and giving yourself a treat to help relax.

5. Spend some time alone--or not

Sometimes, bad days can be caused by the normal, everyday stresses of life simply over-stimulating you. Take a break from friends and family, and get some well-deserved "me time" to recharge. Alternatively, if you find yourself spending a lot of time alone, you could be feeling lonely. Plan a weekend with a friend, or spend some time with a significant other or family member.

Remember: taking care of your mind is just like taking care of your body. If you have further concerns about your mental health, speak about them with a professional. A diagnosis can give a face to an enemy, and help you better combat your "off" days. Do what makes you feel better. Take a mental health day for yourself, and be healthy in both body and mind.

Sara Volk is a Bismarck native and the current Special Sections editor at The Bismarck Tribune. When she isn't working to give her cat a better life, she dabbles in baking, sewing, and anything nerdy.