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Part 1: Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:

5 Ways to Be Present and Practice Good Mental Health Awareness

By: Aneesha Perkins, MA, LPC

May calls for honoring Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) heritage month! Asian American communities consist of various ethnic groups and are estimated to be the fastest growing racial group in the United States. That said, it’s essential to remember that good mental health awareness entails being present and appreciating the little things that bring you joy. Join InnoPsych in relaxing and relishing in the moment by tapping into your five senses in a way that celebrates AAPI culture, through touch, sight, taste, sound, and smell.

Being present, a key concept of mindfulness, involves tapping into your five senses as a way to slow down your mind and regulate your emotions. Below, we share 5 ways that you can be present in your community while showing solidarity with the AAPI community:

1. Taste - Taste something flavorful with those you love. Invite your loved ones over to your home or visit an AAPI-owned restaurant that features AAPI dishes. Encourage each guest to share the flavors and spices they taste as everyone eats – this is mindful eating and can help everyone focus on being present! Extra points if you can identify the origins and history behind the dishes.

2. Sound - Use your voice to sound the alarm about Anti-Asian racism and discrimination! The lives of numerous Asian Americans have been significantly impacted by senseless violence. So, stand against the hatred by joining the Stop AAPI Hate movement and use your voice to report AAPI hate here:

3. Sight – Stimulate your sight through the vibrancy of art. The AAPI community has skilled artists displaying visually stimulating artwork. For example, Society6 showcases art by talented AAPI artists or you can check out your local library or museum for AAPI artwork on display.

4. Touch – Heal and boost your mood through the power of touch and service. There’s something special about spending time with others and it actually boosts the happiness hormone, oxytocin and can improve mental health. Engaging in acts of service can also do wonders for your mental health. Choose an AAPI-focused non-profit organization whose mission aligns with your interests and gather your friends for a day of service. You will be surprised at how this action can bring a new perspective to your life.

5. Smell – Stimulate your sense of smell by lighting a candle created by an AAPI-owned business or creative. Take a moment alone or with your loved ones to purchase and smell a candle from a local AAPI-owned business. You can use your InnoPSych journal to describe the scents and memories that emerge from this exercise. Check out these AAPI-owned businesses here:

Through the AAPI’s rich history and culture, this community continues to reflect resiliency and perseverance. Aside from practicing mindfulness, take some time to learn more about AAPI history, achievements, and overall culture. Please share with us some more ways we can all honor AAPI this month and every month!

Aneesha Perkins, M.A., LPC, is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Illinois and a fifth-year Clinical Psychology doctoral candidate at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). She obtained her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology from Trinity Christian College and a Master’s in Clinical Psychology degree from TCSPP in Washington, D.C. She is a creative, writer, speaker, and presenter who enjoys helping women find wholeness and healing. Her clinical interests include stress-reducion techniques, self-care, generational patterns, and trauma.

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