World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10 every year with the objective of “raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.” This year has presented more challenges than many of us are equipped to handle, and as such, we are struggling with our mental health. We know that play is an essential component of metal-wellness support and have gathered some research-backed suggestions to help. Here are a few tips from the experts:
Spend Time Outdoors
Studies show that spending time in nature significantly reduces stress levels in individuals, so much so that doctors are even writing ‘park prescriptions.” According to a study by the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, just being in green space for 20 minutes had significant positive effects on mental health. Luckily, we’re surrounded by parks, trails, and blueways, giving us the perfect opportunity to get outside for a little respite from the hustle and bustle of our lives.
Practice Yoga or Meditation
It is no surprise that meditation, mindfulness exercises, and yoga all have positive effects on our mental health. Something even better about these practices is that we can do them at home alone any time we want. A quick internet search turns up thousands of yoga videos and guided meditation. Our department recently released a Mindful Art exercise that we LOVE and a guided breathing tutorial that takes only five minutes. We hope you give them a try!
Engage in Physical Activity
Get moving! Go for a bike ride, hit the treadmill, search YouTube for a HIIT workout—just do something that gets your blood flowing. This is obviously good for your physical health, but science also says physical activity can lower one’s chance of developing depression and help those currently suffering from depression. Need motivation? There are free apps you can download that suggest different movements throughout the day to keep things fun.
Talk to Loved Ones
It is important that we check on our loved ones during these tough times, but don’t you feel more energized after these encounters, too? You’re not imagining it; according to a recent article in TIME Magazine, there’s tons of data proving that the strength of your social life “can lower stress levels; improve mood; encourage positive health behaviors and discourage damaging ones.” Maintaining those key relationships in your life are more important than we could ever know. Give your parents a call, FaceTime a friend, write an old-school letter to someone.
Take Up Journaling
Have you ever written an email to someone and never sent it? That’s essentially journaling! Getting your thoughts on paper (or screen) have therapeutic effects. Journaling allows you to reflect on things, organize your thoughts, and remember the
good. Now, we know keeping a journal can sound daunting, so we have one suggestion for easing in: for a month, write down three things each day that you’re grateful for. They can be as big or as little as you want. Things like “I got coffee at my favorite local shop” or “my kid didn’t have a meltdown” are great examples. We’ve even got a tutorial for making your own gratitude journal here.
These are just a few ways to improve your mental wellness, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t say that seeking professional help is always a great option. We seek out personal trainers to help us meet our physical wellness goals; it is just as (if not more) important to seek out a professional to help us with our mental wellness, too.