As today is World Mental Health Day, we will talk about mental health and 5 mindful activities for a good mental health. But I think we don’t need a specific day or month to talk about mental/emotional health.
Mental/emotional imbalance is very common. I think we all experienced stress at some point. For some it is manageable, for others it becomes worse and take a deadly shape.
The reason for mental imbalance could be anything, I mean I wish it was that simple to explain, but there are some things that can be done for a good mental health. These things are simple, and I hope they can give some relief from the trauma.
First, we need to understand what is mindfulness. The simple definition of mindfulness is keeping ourselves above and giving ourselves the priority and listening to our own needs first. Our main objective is what our body is trying to tell us, to understand what we want and to spend more time with ourselves.
When we do something like that, we can probably find a solution to our trauma. Trust me, there is no magic pill that can help you. Pills can give some relief from anxiety, but with mindfulness we get an understanding of what needs to be done.
Even Psychiatrist also suggest few things that can help us during the dark days. And this blog post will highlight some of those things.
Exercise for Mental health
First, mindful activity is exercise. Exercise can reduce stress hormones like cortisol and stimulates the production of endorphins. Endorphins helps in reducing stress, depression and pain.
Dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin are a few hormones that increase with regular exercise. This is not me saying that you should exercise because it will help you. But researches revealed that regular exercise indeed reduces stress and depression.
Even increased self-confidence gives a boost to mental/emotional wellbeing. Exercise also helps us to get in shape (even if it’s not our goal). It increases stamina, endurance and capability. This is directly making us feel good and proud, and it results in better mental wellbeing.
But will it work? There’s no guarantee. The least we can do is try and see if exercise can help us.
As I always say, that you don’t need anything vigorous. You can start with a walk, Yoga classes maybe, a dance classes or home workout. Just need to remember that, we are not competing with anyone, we are doing for ourselves.
Spending time in nature for a good mental health
With our busy lives, it sometimes feels almost impossible to find time for nature. This mindful activity is cost-effective and super easy to do. All you need to do is spend time in nature.
Nature has its healing power. It automatically makes us forget about our worries. Natural light and air also help us during Seasonal affective disorder. Nature is always used as therapy to treat people with depression and emotional imbalance.
Spending time with nature can be anything; you can simply visit a nearby park and spend quiet time there. You can go for bird viewing, trekking, outdoor workout or any activity that is taking you close to the nature.
One interesting thing I’ve noticed that now more people understand the importance of nature. More people are coming up with activities that take us close to nature. In fact, I’ve just joined (while writing this) a group on WhatsApp about sightseeing and exploring. You can find something like that too locally, and if not make your own, I encourage you. I do have an interactive blog idea while writing this. I will discuss it in next blog post.
Practice Pranayama for a good mental health
Pranayama is a breathing practice, in this we control our breathing by using different styles and forms. I won’t be discussing pranayama in detail here, but I want to point out how powerful pranayama could be to control stress and anxiety.
In a research on 59 students, it was found that after 2 months of regular practicing of pranayama, stress levels were found to be lower in the participants. Pranayama also improves breathing, it relaxes the body and helps us understand our body.
Additionally, it energizes the body as more oxygen is reaching the body, improves nervous system, lowers the blood pressure and even helps to treat digestive disorders. Those who sleep better are less stressed, and pranayama also helps in improving the quality of sleep.
Combined with Yoga, Pranayama is a great mindful activity as when we sit quietly for 10–15 mins, we are taking us away from the stress and nervousness and can find the answers within.
Journaling for mental health
Blogging may or may not be for everyone, but Journaling can actually help many. It’s like a friend who is ready to listen without judging us. When we write down our thoughts, we are actually we are discovering ourselves, and not bottling up the emotions.
I see a lot of people here who use blogging as a medium to share their thoughts. It’s a great mindful activity for a good mental health. However, blogging is public, where you share here, everyone is reading. They may or may not be interested to read your thoughts.
Journaling on the other hand is private, here you can write about your day, your thoughts, things that make you feel uncomfortable or things that make you happy. It can even keep you organize and alert.
Giving yourself some Me-time
I know the title says 4 Mindful activities, but this is 5th. It’s more like a combination of all. Me time is when you become selfish, and there’s nothing wrong in that. Because, you are prioritizing yourself above anything.
Most of the time, people live for others and forget themselves. They forget their own need. Sometimes, living for yourself is not bad at all. You are taking care of yourself and you are improving your own health. When your own health is improving, I am sure things around you will start becoming clearer.
A road trip is not a bad idea, or if you are too busy for that how about a movie night, where you treat yourself? If you cannot manage that either, I am sure you can at least go to a spa and get a full body treatment. Reading a book, and disconnecting yourself from others for a while, sounds perfect too. That’s what I do anyway.
Drawing or playing an instrument are great mindful activities as well. Even giving time to a hobby could do wonders to mental health. Research suggests that learning something new can do wonders for mental health.
Things people should understand
Mental health is a very serious topic, and frankly I am very afraid to write about it. This is why in 2 years, I’ve touched this topic only thrice. There’s a lot of stigma around this topic and still in India, people are not talking about it much.
I read daily about someone ending their lives due to depression. I can’t relate what they must have gone though. A lot of the suicides can be stopped if we are more open about it. We need to talk to our people, kids, our elders about it. A lot of things can be solved with conversation.
These days, people have zero tolerance. I am sorry I may sound rude, but I feel this is a truth now. People are so angry all the time, it’s a frustration that you can see on the face of people. They have pressure, they have bills to pay, they have responsibilities to fulfill and during all this mental health takes a back seat. You won’t realize you have depression, unless it start affecting your physical health.
People are still afraid to go to a psychologist. Psychologist are considered as doctors for crazies and people just shun away the conversation regarding them.
Social medial can also fill up the brain with unwanted information. People are in the race to look/ perform better. Not just kids, but adults compare their lives with what they see online. And when they cannot attain it, they disrupt their own lives and health because of it.
What we need is some healthy boundaries with phone, food and things that affect our mental health. We need to understand what’s affecting our mental health and need to do what’s necessary.
Things mentioned are just part of what you can do for a good mental health, but, there’s lot more to it. I won’t be giving you any further ideas about what you need to do in your own life. I can just let you know, you are not alone in the struggle.
You can always reach out to me if you want to talk about anything. If you are still struggling and seeking answers I suggest you to get a help and trust me there’s no shame in it and even if there was, you be selfish and do it for yourself.
Mental health matters, you don’t need a specific day to remember that.