Did you know that October is Emotional Wellness Month? Mental health is closely tied to physical health, and just like we exercise and eat well to stay physically healthy, mental health takes some healthy habits and upkeep as well. If you feel like you’re in a mental health rut, these free habits can help you take charge of your mental health and get back on track.
Keep a journal
Okay, we know we talk about journaling a lot here at The Optimist Daily, but that’s because it’s such a powerful habit. There’s no right or wrong way to journal, as long as you’re getting your thoughts down. Some people choose to keep a gratitude journal and write down three things they are grateful for each day. Others opt for highs and lows or just sit down and write how they’re feeling. You can even use other forms of creative expression, like drawing, painting, or collaging to express how you’re feeling. Journaling has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, stress, and hostility, so what are you waiting for?
Nature is a powerful mental health tool and has been shown to improve cognitive development, mental health, and sleep. With fewer hours of sunlight, it’s harder to get outside in the winter, but making time for a walk before work each morning or a lunchtime stroll is well worth it. If you go to a local park for your journaling practice, you’ll hit two birds with one stone!
Spend time with animals
Animals, especially dogs, cats, and horses, have been shown to have a calming effect on us. This is what makes them such great therapy animals. If you don’t have a pet of your own, visiting a friend with one or volunteering at your local shelter will do the trick. Plus, volunteering has some strong mental health benefits, too.
Meditate or do yoga
Meditation and yoga both help improve self-awareness and ground you. They also have been shown to have strong mental health benefits. Download a free meditation app or try an online yoga class to get started.
Read a book
Books take us out of our heads into other worlds. They offer many of the soothing benefits of movies, but with more cognitive benefits. Reading a book where a character overcomes a challenge may even help you feel more determined in your own life.
Cook something new
Comfort food is soothing, and the added challenge of trying a new recipe is rewarding and delicious. Find a recipe online or pick a family recipe to try yourself for the first time.