Updated: Dec 29, 2021
While therapy is great for long-term mental health support, it isn’t as practical for day-to-day actions that can keep you grounded and emotionally healthy. Often, these little things add up to make a big difference, and the benefits cascade throughout the rest of our lives for a long time afterward. So, here are some quick tips to help boost your mental health right away, every day.
Take a walk in nature. It’s in our genes – we like to be outside, to see flowers and trees and blue skies. Combined with a bit of physical activity, which releases endorphins and other happiness hormones, even a short walk by the river or through the parks of Calgary can do wonders for your immediate mood. If you’re able, set aside some time each morning or evening to get out and see the neighbourhood – in a city with Fish Creek Park, Nose Hill Park, the Bow River pathways, and so much more, the opportunities are endless. Your mind and your body will both be grateful, and you’ll feel the benefits right away.
Talk to friends and family. Just like we evolved to crave nature and activity, we evolved to rely on our social groups and reach out when we are stressed. So pick up the phone and call up your mom, your sibling, or your best friend – whoever you can talk to that will support you. This is especially important in the COVID era, as many people may feel starved of in-person contact, with additional feelings of stress and isolation. Simply talking over your day with someone you trust can do wonders for your mental health, so don’t be afraid to open up and let it out.
Be mindful of what you really need, right now. We often get so busy during our days that we don’t listen to what our bodies are saying – we forget to stretch, to eat well, to drink enough water, to relax, and so on. Taking a few moments to clear your mind and listen to what your body needs goes a long way, and will very rarely steer you in the wrong direction. Practice mindfulness by setting aside a few minutes throughout the day with no distractions and a peaceful environment. As you get better at listening to yourself and your needs, you will learn to recognize those cues earlier on, and become more attuned to what you need to stay in a good mindset.
Avoid negative quick fixes, like drugs, alcohol, or overeating. Sure, eating a few pieces of cake feels good in the moment – but it is later accompanied by regret (and probably a bad stomach ache). It’s the same with many vices like smoking, drinking, gambling, social media addiction, and overeating, which offer a false sense of wellness that falls apart very quickly and never offers true mental health support. Instead, focus on more constructive ways to boost your emotions, like eating healthier foods and avoiding depressive drugs such as alcohol. It may not always be easy, but the payoff is worth it – and you’ll feel much better off without those vices in your life.
Set aside time to enjoy a hobby. Remember in high school, when you could sit and listen to music without doing anything else? We often lose the time to engage in such activities as we get older and busier, and our mental health suffers as a result. Think about the hobbies you enjoy – this could be music, reading, writing, watching movies, woodworking, anything! – and ensure you set aside time to truly enjoy those activities once again. This can help differentiate work life and home life throughout the week, and provide a safe place for creative outlets and emotional energy.
Take a nap. It really is that simple! Kids have it right – sometimes all we need is a nap to feel better, improve concentration, and boost our creativity. In a culture that glamorizes “the hustle”, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that in general, we’re not getting enough sleep anymore. Whether you set aside half an hour at lunch or after work, or you make a concerted effort to stick to an earlier bedtime each night, it’s amazing what enough sleep can do for your mental health.
Of course, while all of these are great for the moment, sometimes more emphatic action is needed, and that’s where therapy comes in. At Flourish Psychological Services, we deal with everything from anxiety disorders and grief counselling to couples therapy and depression support. When you need professional help for long-term mental health improvements, we are always here to help!