May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and although mental health hygiene is important all year long, this month in particular marks an opportunity to raise awareness and share tips for prioritizing mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Chill is a meditation and yoga studio in Chicago, and their app, Chill Anywhere, offers meditation and mindfulness resources (You can find Chill on Gympass’ Live Classes and Chill Anywhere on Gympass Wellness). Steven Parker, Chief Growth Officer at Chill, explained that the company’s mission is to make mindfulness and meditation accessible to all and to destroy the stigma surrounding mental health.

“Making practicing good mental hygiene a regular, accessible habit — like going to the gym or taking a walk every day to support your physical health — can help remove this stigma and make mental self-care feel more normal,” he told Gympass.

Parker recently wrote a blog post for Chill that’s all about mental health awareness and the coronavirus, including four ways to practice good mental health hygiene during this time. 

Here are some highlights from his post:

Be kind

Practicing compassion and empathy is a helpful mental health tool, especially when you show kindness to yourself. During this high-stress time, don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself some extra room to breathe.

Maintain a routine

Parker pointed out that many professionals who work in social isolation, like sailors on submarines or astronauts, say that maintaining a routine is crucial to taking care of your mental health. Parker suggested not making your routine too detailed. That way you can avoid any added stress when things don’t go as planned.

Find ways to stay connected

While we continue to keep our distance, connecting with others can feel more difficult than usual. But maintaining a sense of connection with friends and family is crucial right now, Parker says. Try planning a weekly or monthly video chat or phone call with a friend. It can be part of your routine and it’ll help you get some social time in.

Practice mindfulness meditation

What is mindfulness meditation exactly?

Mindfulness meditation isn’t about incense, chakras, dogmas or gurus,” Parker writes in his blog. “Just like you go to the gym to strengthen your muscles, mindfulness meditation strengthens the mind. Mindfulness meditation teaches those who practice it to focus on the present moment, breath by breath.”

He pointed out that mindfulness meditation has been proven to improve anxiety and depression, reduce loneliness, and lower stress levels. If you give it a try, be patient with yourself and start small (that’s the Chill way).

“Don’t expect to be great at it at first — that’s why it’s called ‘practice,’” he wrote in his blog. “And just like you wouldn’t expect to become physically fit by exercising only every so often, you won’t get the full benefits of meditation until you make it a regular habit. ”

Read more about mental health awareness and the coronavirus on the Chill blog.

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