This isn’t how things are supposed to be going, I often find myself saying. I’m sure many of you can relate. I never dreamt I’d be unemployed less than a year after completing grad school. That I’d have to once again fight to secure an interview, let alone a job. It’s honestly taken it’s toll on me.
I’m not okay.
But, I’m trying to cope the best I can.
Over the course of five months I’ve done a lot of research on what I can do to help myself; to take back a bit of control. Or maybe control’s just an illusion. “Relax. Nothing is under control” is a quote I recently saw attributed to Adi Da Samraj. Perhaps there’s some truth in that quote.
Relax. Nothing is under control.Adi Da Samraj
I hate leaving the house these days (I mean, I literally wrote a post about it).
Luckily, there’s no need to leave he house, or threat of contracting any (and dare I say ‘spreading’) illness with this list.
Here are my top 13 activities to positively impact your mental health yourself.
First things first, an acknowledgment: we’re all suffering due to this pandemic —some worse than others— but your mental health doesn’t have to as well. This list is not intended to be a substitute for working with a mental health clinician.
Those of us suffering from more acute forms of mental illness should take into consideration that stronger interventional approaches from a professional may be warranted.
Whilst some of us are able to afford, find, and attend sessions with a licensed mental health worker, many of us can’t. If you can’t afford mental health, but still want or need it, are you doomed—out of luck?
Of course not.
We aren’t doomed to suffer with no relief in sight. There are things we can do to help ourselves. We can cope with mental health ourselves. Here’s how.
13 Mental Hygiene Activities
Here are 13 ways you can take control of your mental hygiene and positively impact you mental health today.
It’s been scientifically proven that exercise is one of the best ways to not only positively impact health and wellbeing, but also elevates the mood, which fights depression.
Ready to get fit? Try a fitness class such as Soul Cycle, Pilates, Yoga, or even dance.
Forest bathing is a real thing. Simply being in nature not only provides us with a chance to breath some clean air (hopefully), but also affords us the chance to get close to soil, which has been proven to change our moods to a rather cheery one.
Activities to try: take a short stroll in your neighborhood or at a park, or maybe take up gardening.
Herbs are plants. If you’ve ever cooked with rosemary, basil, or thyme, then you’ve used herbs. Did you know they have healing properties? Many plants we consider a nuisance, like dandelions, are actually herbs and can be used medicinally.
Herbal medicine is practiced by nearly 80% of the world’s population and has been around for as long as humans have been.
Try making a calming tea such as Chrysanthemum or Chamomile to self-soothe. Make a tasty meal showcasing herbs such as cumin, chilis, or garlic. Similarly, aromatherapy has grown in popularity recently, dive into it nose first.
Less than a month into my first year of junior high, 9/11 happened. It was a chaotic, stressful time to say the least. Despite all of that, I remember coming home from school each day, flopping on my bed with a gel pen, and writing in my journal. I did this almost everyday and honestly, I think it helped me get through some sh*t.
Fast forward to now, and journaling is still relevant. It’s not that hard and you don’t need to write a novel. Try to write a few sentences each day: 3-5. Or, you could give yourself 2-5 minutes for yourself that you can pen out in your journal. You could do this digitally using a word processor such as Google Docs, Word, etc.
Similarly, start a blog a blog (like I did).
Creating is in our DNA. You don’t have to look far for evidence of that. Even the first line of the Bible (Genesis 1:1) reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” So, get creating!
Here are a few things you could do: use youtube and paint or draw. You can check out this massive list of such activities I made for my students earlier this year.
Already know how to paint/draw? I challenge you to paint a ‘loss’ where you paint—express— your feelings and emotions about your journey through COVID19.
Personally my least favorite, but something others enjoy, adult coloring books. You can find free, printable sheets by doing a quick Google search for the terms ‘free printable adult coloring sheets.’ Chalk is messy, but so is this year. Chalk your driveway or the sidewalk for positivity!
I’ve taken up knitting. You can read about that here. Know what else I’ve been up to? Crafts! Why not make a hot air balloon with me!?
Lastly, scribble. Mother told me one when she was a child and bored (because no one could utter the phrase “I’m bored” in front of Mimi, my grandmother), she’d grab a piece of paper, pen/pencil/crayon, and make a large scribble doodle on her paper. Then, she’d find shapes in her scribble doodle to then connect, and color-in. Rather ingenious, ma.
I’m a professing and practicing Christian: I follow Christ. One must not ever believe that all things can be done by self: God is our Shepard. In tough times, don’t neglect the Lord. Turn to Him, and he will turn to you. “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8)
Pray. Praying isn’t difficult, but many of us are lacking in spiritual habits and hygiene. We’re funky from our unconfessed sin.
Here’s how you can get started—repeat these words: Father God, thank you for loving me and saving me. I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and I’m sorry. I repent of my sins and ask for forgiveness. Please, change me. Make me brand new. In Jesus’ name I pray this, Amen.
It’s that simple, folks.
9. Practice Positive Psychology
A few takeaways from that course and my post: meditate, gratitude, and mindfulness.
This is risky business these days, but thankfully, you don’t have to be out in public.
Volunteering online may not feel the same as in-person, but the feeling you get from helping out others sure is.
Check out this mega list of activities which also has a section for volunteering.
Americans, we have too much stuff! I’m wholly against this throwaway culture that’s crept up in the U.S.A., U.K., and, I suspect, much of the ‘developed’ world. But look here, y’all need to declutter. It’s not only good for your living space, but darn good for mental clarity.
Two fascinating approaches to try: konmari and döstädning.
Marie Kondo has made a living on tidying up. She’s been around for quite some time and honestly, has a unique approach to helping you declutter your life. Have a look and try it for yourself. Also, her series was picked up by Netflix, so feel free to watch her in action.
Döstädning, or death cleaning, is brought to you from Sweden! It’s not as grime as it sounds, though. In fact, it’s actually just what you need.
Basically, as one ages, we accumulate stuff. As the years go on, and we age and near the end of our lives (because we’ll all be biting the dust sooner rather than later), this stuff as to be dealt with upon our death. In come Swedish death cleaning where, before you actually die and unduly tax your loved ones with having to process their loss and grief and trauma of going through your sh*t, you give away your possessions before your passing on. Of course you don’t have to do it all at once and in one sitting, but starting early and systematically thinning your stuff out is the idea. Also part of the idea, reflect and be grateful for the memories and times you had with that item. That’s the real key
How many of you have seen these commercials by Micheal Phelps and Calm? His goal is to bring awareness to mental health whereas Calm‘s is to promote their app, which seeks to help with sleep, meditation, and relaxation. The app (one of a several mental health apps) has a free component, but Talkspace is a paid service.
I’ve never used Talkspace, but I did try Calm in the past. It wasn’t for me at the time, but may be so for you.
And there you have it: 13 activities (plus 2 bonuses!) to boost your mental health during these trying times. That’s 15 free mental health (self) services!
Y’all, it’s going to be a bumpy fall. Let’s do something for ourselves. How can mental health be improved? Start with these 13 activities. Begin practicing a few on this list today.
You’re worth it.
How have you been practicing mental hygiene? Let me know on LinkedIn.
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