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Life can get hard sometimes. So I have a bunch of things in what I call my mental health toolbox. They are all tasks I have used in the past to help lift my mood, motivate me and instil a little extra confidence.
It’s unfortunate, but I need to say this. I have no qualifications when it comes to mental health, so this is all just my opinion and experience. And so many of the things in this article are not for everybody. So my advice to you is to just take what you need and be open to new ideas that might help you on your journey.
Why you need a mental health toolbox
Think of it like a first aid kit, but for your mental health. When life gets a little rough, you can refer back to your mental health kit.
It will take time for you to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. But once you’ve created your mental health toolbox, you’ll be able to take it with you. And you can use it anytime you need to.
It might be helpful to have the items in your kit written down somewhere, so you can easily refer back to them when you need to.
Ideas you can add to your mental health toolbox
Meditation is not for everyone. And that’s ok. But meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting crossed legged in silence for hours at a time.
It can be taking a minute to breathe properly, it could be sitting still wit ha guided meditation. Maybe even falling asleep to a sleep meditation. I love the Calm app for any kind of meditation.
Go for a walk
One of the best things about walking is that it’s free. It also requires very little in terms of equipment. Heck, you don’t even need shoes if you don’t want to wear them! Double your dose of healing while going for a walk with a friend or listening you a favourite podcast.
I’ll bet you’ve probably never heard of this one before. Earthing, also known as grounding, is connecting your body to the earth. Commonly done by walking bare feet on natural surfaces like grass and sand. I like to think it also counts when I’m barefoot inside the house or walking on concrete outside. I know its not the same, but I am rarely seen barefoot.
Cleaning some thing when you are anxious can really help. And it helps in two ways. Firstly, it can take your mind off what ever is troubling you. Secondly, you accomplish something. And sometimes the mess or clutter can also be the source of your anxiety. If you don’t know where to start, the following can give you some quick wins:
- do the dishes
- clean out your handbag, fridge, freezer or pantry
- take out the rubbish
- do a load of laundry
- clean out some emails or photos on your phone
Eat meat free sometimes
I’m not here to convince you to change your lifestyle. Just try a few meat free dinners a month. It’s good for your health and budget!
Drink enough water
We all know the importance of drinking enough water. But how many of us actually do it? I know I don’t. But I do aim for at least one litre of water per day, on top of anything else I drink. And I know one litre isn’t really enough. But we all have to start somewhere.
Caffeine free days
I try to have about five caffeine free days a month. It gives my body a rest, allows me to drink something else and of course, helps me sleep a little bit better. If you still need that warm mid-morning drink, consider having a hot chocolate, a herbal tea or another caffeine free substitute.
Listen to a podcast
I’m relatively new to podcasts but I have found them to be a great escape. My favourite time to listen to podcasts is when I’m driving in the car. But going for a walk is also a great way to get a double dose to calm the mind and body. Why not try one of these self-improvement podcasts?
Knowing what you are going to eat can take so much weight off your shoulders. You can choose to create your own meal plan based on what you already have or use a pre-made meal plan.
I wish I was someone that journaled often. But I’m not. I’m more of a journal every day for about a week then do nothing for a few months type!
There are so many amazing journal prompts on Pinterest but you can
waste spend so much time looking for the “right one”. It might be easier to buy a journal with pre-done prompts.
We all know how good it is to have a big stretch in the morning. You know, the one where you lift your arms high above your head and maybe let out a yawn or a sigh? But there are also a number of other stretches to help wake you up or help induce sleep. My all-time favourite stretch is supine spinal twist.
Having a bath is not everyone’s idea of self-care. And that’s totally fine. But if it is your jam, relax and unwind in a bath, with or without a bath bomb. You can always listen to a podcast or music or watch something on Netflix or YouTube.
And if a bath isn’t your cup of tea, a shower can still do a world of wonders.
I love to read to escape my current world, whether it’s an actual book, a ebook or audiobook. Most libraries have an extensive digital library, so you don’t even need to leave the house!
My favourite books to escape into are:
Wearing clothes that you feel comfortable can make quite a difference to your mood. I know I’m irritated easily when I’m wearing clothes that are too tight, restrict me from moving like normal and give me aches and pains. Life’s too short to be uncomfortable in what you wear.
Sing and dance to your favourite songs
This one might surprise you. But singing and dancing to your favourite songs can really boost your mood and your confidence. I was certainly a skeptic when I learned about it, but it’s one of those don’t knock it until you try it things. My favourite songs to sing and dance to are mostly 90’s and early 2000’s with a few other catchy tunes. But if I’m really feeling myself I listed to some of the best old emo songs so I can rock out on my air guitar. Seriously, try it!
Phone a friend
Phone or text a friend. You never know, you reaching out could be just what they need right now as well.
Wash your hair
This is a judgement-free zone. But how long has it been since you washed your hair? If you are anything like me, you push out each hair wash as long as possible. I absolutely hate washing my hair. If I had only one magic power I wish it was that I never had to wash my hair!
Sometimes you just need a nap. Enough said.
Watch a movie or TV show
Watching a movie or some episodes of a television show is a great way to kill some time and take your mind off things.
To keep you going for a few days, try one of following franchises:
- Star Wars
- Harry Potter
- James Bond
- Pirates of The Caribbean
- Marvel Cinematic Universe (think Avengers)
My favourite pick me up (but don’t need to pay too much attention to ) television shows are:
- The Good Place
- Big Bang Theory
- How I Met Your Mother
- The Simpsons
There are so many ways you can access TedTalks. But not all TEDTalks are inspiring. Some make you think. Some make you question what you believe. And some you an learn from. Find way that works for you:
Watch inspiring YouTube videos
You only have to search ‘inspirational video’ on YouTube and you are met with thousands of results. And the most watched videos have millions of views. And I can say that I’ve seen a few of the videos. They do really make you think about where you are in your life and where you want to be.
If inspiring videos aren’t your thing, you can also
waste fill your time watching:
Sitting outside might not seem revolutionary when it comes to your mental health. But I found it very beneficial during the winter of 2020. I really noticed that I felt different when I hadn’t spent any time outside the previous day.
Not to be forgotten, is exercise. We all know the benefits of exercise but we don’t always take advantage of them. If you need some accountability consider exercising with a friend or completing a challenge. Challenges can range from time or distance in a month or a week, or doing something every day.
Play a game
The thought of playing a game can mean different things to different people. You might think I mean a board game, you might think I mean a game on your phone. But really, any game will do. You can lose yourself in a game like Candy Crush. Or become really competitive with a game like Uno or Monopoly. Or you could just sit down and boss people around in the Sims for a few hours. Can you tell which game is my favourite?