“They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me.”
― Nathaniel Lee
To celebrate Mental Health awareness week in Australia, and the National Mental Health day on Tuesday 10th October, I thought I’d share with you some fun ways you can boost your mental health. But first, let’s clear up some confusion, shall we? What is Mental Health?
What Mental Health is NOT
The term mental health is often misunderstood. I too have been guilty of misrepresenting it. For a long time, when people talk about mental health, I think about a particular mental health condition, such as paranoia schizophrenia as depicted in the movie A Beautiful Mind, which by the way, is a very good movie; or clinical depression, which is another common (if misunderstood) condition.
But mental health is not about mental condition or illnesses or the absence of these conditions.
What is Mental Health?
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
So it is the combination of our emotional and psychological well-being. It affects how we feel, how we think and how we function in the society.
It is more about wellness rather than being about illness.
I like this explanation from Beyond Blue:
“…it’s important to remember that mental health is complex. The fact that someone is not experiencing a mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean their mental health is flourishing. Likewise, it’s possible to be diagnosed with a mental health condition while feeling well in many aspects of life. Ultimately, mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy – the way we think, feel and develop relationships – and not merely the absence of a mental health condition.”
Why we need to look after our mental health
When we look the true definition of mental health, it is clear that keeping in good mental health is vital in order to function at your utmost in life.
It can be very easy to dismiss the idea of maintaining a good mental state if you haven’t had to go through difficult times. If you have had some hard knocks or you’ve experienced traumatic events, then you’ll know how important this can be.
Think of mental health like your physical health, but for the mind. And just like your physical health, if you want to improve your mental fitness, you have to do the work!
And that brings us here, to a list of things you can do to boost your mental health. If you can make time to go to the gym, then you sure can make time for some of these activities, especially since they’re all fun!
15 Things You Can Do to Boost Your Mental Health
- Watch a feel-good movie
- Take that class that you’ve always wanted to take, just for fun (such as an art drawing class)
- Paint, draw, write or do something creative
- Eat something you absolutely love
- Spend some time outside in nature or visit a museum or a gallery
- Pat a pet, or your friend’s pet, or a stranger’s dog at the park
- Do something fun or silly that makes you happy
- Spend time with close friends and other people who lift you up
- Enjoy a long bath or shower
- Wear something that makes you feel and look great (the two go hand in hand, by the way- if you look good, you’ll feel good as well)
- Do a mini spring clean and find things to donate to the less fortunate
- Learn yoga and mindfulness practice
- Read your favourite book
- Exercise (think of fun exercises like rock climbing, dancing, martial arts, pole dancing?)
- Play – whatever that might look like to you
If the list above sounds unexpectedly simple, that’s because it is. Self-care, social interaction, and play are all simple but oh-so-vital to maintaining your good mental health.
Please note that if you are non-neurotypical, or suffering from a debilitating mental illness, or simply feel overwhelmed by the above list and the potential of not being able to achieve many of the activities. Don’t stress. These are just suggestions. Just try to pick one of the activity if you have the energy and don’t feel defeated if you can’t. You might even have other things you love to do that is not on this list.
On that note, what are your favourite things to do for mental health? Do share them in the comment section below.
If you need any mental health advice or support in Australia, visit Beyond Blue – they have a great library of resources on their website and a good support network.
Disclaimer: The content provided in this post is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.