From relationship issues to financial situations and workplace woes, being able to keep one’s sanity without living every day struggling with depression, anxiety, and panic has become more daunting than ever. We must be intentional about doing activities to improve mental well-being.
The fact that many people now have to work, rest, and play under the same roof due to the pandemic has made controlling our mental health much more difficult. Instead of letting negative self-thoughts ruin your mental health, you can start putting to good use the clear connection between your physical, mental, and emotional state.
Improving your mental well-being shouldn’t come with another level of stress. Some simple tweaks to your daily life by incorporating some easy-to-do activities might be the game-changer for you.
Here are some fun activities you can start trying today to improve your mental health and well-being:
5 Activities to Improve Mental Well-Being
Be Physically Active
Being physically active through simple exercises such as walking at a brisk pace can do a lot more than improving your physical health. Research has shown a connection between our physical and mental health, thus, making exercise an excellent way to improve sleep, reduce stress, boost your mood, concentration, and alertness, and help you relax and feel better all-round.
Hitting the gym five times every week and 10 hours every day doesn’t have to be your definition of being physically active. You can always start small. If you think you have a busy life that doesn’t allow enough time for engaging in physical activity, you can opt for engaging yourself within the scope of your daily life. For example, try parking your vehicle at a distance that requires you to walk a little further to the store or to your office. Another example is to try using the stairs instead of the elevator. Walking is just one of the several ways to stay active. You can engage in other things that you enjoy like football, swimming, hiking, dancing, jogging, cycling, etc.
Connect with Other People
Instead of bottling up your worries and keeping to yourself all day, start learning to connect with people more often. Humans need human connection, so it would be best if you start understanding that you can’t always do everything alone – the truth is, none of us are supposed to.
The influence of having a good relationship on your mental health cannot be overemphasized. This will create an opportunity for you to share your worries and positive experiences, develop a sense of belonging and self-worth, and have access to emotional support while also supporting others.
Connecting with people does not mean you should throw your problems at everyone’s face. Instead, try the following:
- Have lunch with friends you have not seen in a while
- Refrain from bringing work home as much as possible
- Carve out time to play a game with your children, family, and friends
- Pay visit to a friend, family, or colleague who needs support or company
- Volunteer at a community school, hospital, or local group
- Seek social support from friends and family through social apps such as Skype, FaceTime, etc.
Frequent Your Study Room or Bookshelf
This may sound weird to you at first, but it works. When you feel your mental health is plummeting after a nerve-racking day, take a shower, find a nice spot where you can relax, and flip through the pages of your favorite book. If you need suggestions, check out this blog post that lists some books for self-care. I ran across this article in Harper’s Bazaar that talks about how reading books can positively impact your mental health.
Structured or voluntary book reading, also known as bibliotherapy, has been found to reduce mental health difficulties by decreasing depressive symptoms. You should try introducing the habit of reading a few minutes every day, and you’ll be surprised at how reading a good book can calm the mind, relax the body, and help decrease blood pressure and slow the heart rate.
Reading as an activity to improve your mental health doesn’t mean that you have to pick up nonfiction titles that are aimed to teach or inform. If that’s what you like to read, that’s fine. However, picking up a fun fiction book can strengthen your social skills, improve your interpersonal comprehension level, and boost your sense of empathy–all things that are proven to improve your mental health.
Learn New Skills
Based on a famous quote, “an idle hand has never stopped being the devil’s play toy.” You would have less time to drown yourself in negative thoughts if you constantly find something to do. Learning a new skill can be fun and can easily make you forget about whatever is causing you undue stress, worry, and anxiety.
Learning a new skill can boost your confidence and give you a sense of purpose. Additionally, new skills can give you an unexplained feeling of satisfaction and happiness.
Need ideas of things you can start trying today? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Work on a DIY project, such as fixing an old bike, painting an old room, constructing a simple outdoor chair or swing, etc.
- Try learning how to cook something new.
- Challenge yourself to start a blog, vlog, or podcast about what you love doing, write some poems or song lyrics, etc. (Read this article about how starting a blog literally saved my mental health.)
There are several free and open-source tutorials online to help you start learning something new from scratch to an expert level. YouTube is one of the best resources out there at your disposal.
Mindfulness is about being self-aware while paying attention to everything going on around you without judging yourself.
Being aware of your surroundings can help you observe your feelings and thoughts more positively. (Read more about mindfulness here.)
Mindfulness has to do with letting go of the past and being more in the present. The act of living now without worrying about the past or what’s to happen in the future can reduce stress, help you feel better, and also improve your mental wellbeing.
When you start being mindful of the world around you, you will notice a lot more positivity in how you feel about life and how you address challenges.
Being attentive to your mental well-being is an important part of self-care. In order to be your best self, you should be intentional about doing activities that improve your mental health. While I am a huge proponent of you being your biggest advocate when it comes to mental health, I do understand that it’s sometimes outside of our ability to identify the things in our lives that have a negative impact on us. At that time, it is absolutely appropriate to seek help from a mental health professional.
I hope that you will consider some of the activities that I have listed above if you are in need of improving your mental health. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. Any activity that has a positive impact on your mental health is appropriate. Keep in mind, though, that you want to choose activities that have long-term positive effects. Remember, it’s never selfish to put yourself first. If you don’t take care of your mental health, you will be unable to take care of the people and things around you.
For more resources on mental health, check out the following websites:
Medline Plus, How to Improve Your Mental Health
Mental Health America, 31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health
Mental Health Foundation, How to Look After Your Mental Health
The Family Institute at Northwestern University, 50 Realistic Ways to Improve Your Mental Health
Psychology Today, 9 Ways You Can Improve Your Mental Health Today