May is National Mental Health Awareness Month in the northern hemisphere and there is no better time than now to pour some time and energy into your wellbeing. With many of us noticing the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has taken its toll on our mental health, it’s important to take some time to invest in ways to feel brighter, healthier and more connected.
Here are some ways you can improve your mental health and feel more focused while maintaining social distance and adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.
1. Talk It Out & Write It Down
Whether it’s to a psychologist, your best friend or the mirror, talking through your worries can release a whole lot of stress, and give you plenty of perspective.
It’s good to feel connected and share in experiences, so if you have a friend who has the capacity to chat about what’s going on in your life, it is a great way to improve your mental health.
Or when in dire need with no-one around, try the Rubber Duck method – it’s not only for developers but Life challenges too!
Talking it out on the page by journaling your feelings can be incredibly helpful and is a practice that’s as old as the hills.
A good trick, though, is reading it back as though it was written by someone else, and then offering that person some sound advice, which helps as a way of sorting through what’s on your mind.
Or if you only have 5 mins a day try gratitude journaling, 3 points in the morning on what you’re grateful for, 3 points on what would make the day great, and then 3 points in the evening about 3 amazing things that happened to you that day. A growing body of research shows that keeping a record of what you’re thankful for can lower stress, improve sleep and even reduce the risk of some diseases.
2. Choose the Good Snacks & Drink Up!
A healthy body creates a healthy mind, so while comfort foods feel great when we’re feeling down, you’ll feel so much better if you whip up a more nutritious snack.
Try a new recipe or just cut up some carrot and celery sticks to munch on during the day to keep you full and healthy. Or try these brain boosting foods and drinks to keep you alert and productive!
Are you drinking enough water? Signs that you aren’t, could be light-headedness, dry lips, headache and feeling tired. Keep a bottle of water nearby and keep sipping at it to stay hydrated, which in turn will improve your physical and mental health.
3. Take Some Time Off & Keep Connected
Take a break if you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. It doesn’t have to be long if you can’t afford the time or money to take time off. It could just be an evening where you switch off from your worries and just soak in a bath or watch your favourite comedy. Even the simple act of putting on a song and having a dance party can be enough to rest your mood and stress levels. Taking a moment to reset, reboot and remember what you love and why, can really give you the boost you need if your mental health is suffering. Try a little forest bathing in the local park.
When was the last time you spoke with your friends or family? Maybe it’s time for a catch up? Whether that’s in person or online, reconnecting with people you love can fill your cup if it’s getting a little low.
If you are worried or socially anxious, you could plan an activity to do together that will connect you without the stress of small talk, and without the worry of breaking pandemic guidelines.
Going for a walk, throwing a frisbee, playing boardgames or choosing an adventure together by checking out the stories, mysteries and walking trails in your very own city can be super fun and a wonderful discovery activity for you and your friends and family.
4. Get Active
Riding a bike, getting some fresh air, going for a run or taking a dip in the ocean are all activities that have the potential to invigorate the body, mind and soul. Getting out and about, where possible, is a wonderful way to improve and maintain your mental health.
And it doesn’t have to be the same activity every day. Story City, for example, has a range of fantastic activities that will get you active and adventuring in your own hometown, all while being the hero of your own adventure!
5. Do Something New! Be Creative!
Doing something you love will do wonders for your wellbeing, and doing something new can give you motivation, inspiration and a whole lot of confidence.
So, while you’re using Story City to get healthy, active and have some fun, you might consider creating your own stories from your city. You could base a story on your favourite podcast, some true crime that went down in your town, or maybe a slice of history that has put your city on the map.
Being creative feeds the soul and keeps the mind active, so get out there and create!
And while it’s great to think about mental health in May, it’s even better to take steps to look after your self every day throughout the year, and check in on your friends and family to see how they’re doing too. And if you’re a creator there are also a ton of brilliant mental health resources to help prevent creative and professional burnout from the University of Berkeley too.
Be safe, look after yourselves.