Darren Baker ThinkStock

May is Mental Health Awareness month and it raises our understanding of habits and behaviors that increase the risks of mental illnesses. Here are five tips to boost your mental health.

Mental Health America and it's affiliates across the country have led the observance of Mental Health Month since 1949 by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. A screening is a tool that has been proven by research to help identify symptoms of a mental health disorder.

The best way to be proactive and monitor your mental health is by taking a screening. A screening only takes a few minutes and it gives you information about the next steps you should take. Although a screening isn't a diagnosis, it can be a helpful tool for starting a conversation with your doctor about your mental health.

Mental Health America's website provides a free screening test and provides you with an anonymous, free and private way to learn about your mental health and if you are showing warning signs of a mental illness.

  • 1

    Make A Gratitude Journal

    Mental Health America reports that written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness. You should write three things you're grateful for and three things you want to accomplish each day. Reflecting and completing tasks that you're good at builds confidence in you and your skills.

  • 2

    Get Outdoors

    Taking a 30 minute walk in nature can increase energy levels and boosts overall well-being. Health Line reports that sunlight and darkness releases hormones in your brain. Sunlight cues areas in the retina which releases serotonin- the hormone associated with happiness. A mere15 minutes of sun is enough to serve as a mood elevator.

  • 3

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    The CDC reports that nearly ten percent of Americans suffer from depression and Today's Dietician reports that fatty acids seem to be especially important for a well-functioning central nervous system. Doctors suggest taking capsule fish oils with your largest meal of the day. Examples of foods you can incorporate into your diet are salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

  • 4

    Pet Therapy

    According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute presence of pets and pet therapy provide an immediate source of calm and therapeutic benefit for pet owner. Pet therapy is known to lower stress hormones and boosts oxytocin which is linked to feelings of happiness.

    A 2016 study explored the role of pets in people managing a long-term mental health problem. The study found that pets contribute to individuals developing routines that provided emotional and social support.

    Mental illness can be triggered by the need to have control. Pets provide the ability to gain a sense of control by caring for the pet. Animals also provide a distraction and disruption from distressing symptoms, such as hearing voices, and suicidal thoughts.

  • 5

    Take An Epsom Salt Bath

    Epsom salt baths not only soothe aches and pains, but also boost magnesium levels which get depleted by stress.

    Magnesium plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, including muscle control, energy production, electrical impulses and the elimination of harmful toxins.

    Magnesium deficiencies contribute to today’s high rates of heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, digestive disorders and mental illness. 

    Boosting your internal magnesium levels through epsom salt baths can help improve or ward off many avoidable health problems.