We’re often told to work on our mental health just like we do with our physical health. While we think this is valuable, finding the time or motivation to keep up with this can be difficult. When we’re running low mentally, it’s good to have a list of simple activities we can do to feel better and improve our well-being. It really can be that simple. Here are 5 activities you can try to improve your well-being!
Yoga is a great way to bring awareness to the body while releasing stress and tension. It has benefits for mental health at all ages, according to the Journal of Psychiatry. Practising yoga stimulates the prefrontal cortex, the part of our brain responsible for self-control. Self-control is part of healthy emotional regulation. To put our well-being first when we make decisions, it’s best to have a clear, balanced mind.
Physically, the benefits of yoga include increased flexibility, strengthening muscles, and improving respiration. The increase in blood flow to the brain and muscles leads to feelings of relaxation. Great poses to start with include Kapotasana (pigeon pose) and Virabhadrasana (warrior poses).
Aqua therapy is an exercise program that is performed in the water. It consists of training or exercising in a swimming pool, but can be done in any body of water. Being in the water is great for stress and tension, and is being discussed in mental research like this one by Amber Wutich, Alexandra Brewis, and Alexander Tsai from 2020.
Aqua therapy also offers you something to focus on. How long can you tread water? How many laps can you swim? These exercises require one’s attention to balance, coordination, and flexibility. Getting blood flow to the heart will encourage the release of endorphins, suppressing our perception of pain.
Sitting In A Hot Tub or Sauna
Being present in wet, humid environments like a sauna or hot tub will increase blood flow to the brain and muscles. This will help slow your breathing. Serotonin and dopamine are then released throughout the body, which tour brain associates with being happy, calm, and productive. Tension will be released from the muscles as well. It’s an all-around win for your well-being.
Mindfulness (the big one!)
Mindfulness is all about intentionally taking a moment to ourselves. We focus on how we feel, physically or mentally, and ground ourselves in the present. Practising this kind of self-awareness can help us identify what our major stressors or triggers are. It can also help create a regular, healthy outlet for our emotions, which is a key aspect of mental health.
Mindfulness is really what you make of it. It’s a disciplined practice of self-care where we pay attention to our bodies, rather than switch off. Here are some ways you can try it:
- Mindfulness apps. These usually entail daily check-ins and can give you a distraction if needed.
- Journaling or writing.
- Art (painting, colouring, sketching).
For more ideas on mindfulness activities and the science behind them, we recommend reading “Relaxation, Meditation, & Mindfulness: A Mental Health Practitioner’s Guide To New and Traditional Approaches” by Jonathan C. Organizing your space
When we’re going through a hard or stressful time, it can feel like we’ve lost control over our lives. Sometimes our personal space can become a mess because of this. This can make a place that should be a safe haven feel overwhelming and bring our mood down.
Cleaning up our space can help us feel accomplished and in control, which does wonders for our well-being. Set out time for it, whether it’s making your bed, using a timer, listening to a podcast throughout, or doing one thing before bed. Cleaning will help structure your day and improve your mood.
Our mental health can sometimes fluctuate. It’s natural to release positive and negative emotions, but we should do our best to make sure the negative doesn’t outweigh the positive. Taking the time to train your mind to relax and release negativity can help improve your long-term health and well-being. It can be anything from 2 minutes of deep breathing to an hour of hiking.
What method will you use to check in with your well-being today?
To learn more about mental health and when to seek help click here.