Creative Self-Care: Alternative Ideas for Improving Mental Health
We often think of three primary avenues when it comes to mental health improvement — diet, exercise, and therapy. But, the truth is, everyone’s built differently and sometimes the path to a healthy mind is better found off the beaten track — here are a few alternative strategies to consider.
Stress relieving wearables such as TouchPoints produce gentle vibrations to relieve stress, regain focus, and improve sleep. The alternating vibrations disengage your stress response, shifting you into the calm, logical side of your brain.
For those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (which is depression that corresponds with the time of year), light therapy can prove an apt solution. It involves receiving artificial light from a lamp designed to simulate outdoor sunshine, thereby boosting melatonin, serotonin, vitamin D, and more.
Originating from Japan, ‘forest bathing’ is the act of spending time in nature, under the canopy of trees. 40 years of research into the practice shows huge mental health benefits including reduced stress and fatigue. It is also believed to provide physiological benefits, boosting immune function. For the best results, take your time and leave your watch at home.
Volunteering and Starting a Nonprofit
With a warming climate, political injustices, and global instability, many of us are harboring feelings of guilt and powerlessness. For this reason, volunteering often proves an effective and direct route to improved mental health — contributing to meaningful causes is as easy as turning up or reaching out to a coordinator. Oftentimes, you won’t need prior experience, just the right attitude and a willingness to work hard.
If there’s a need you’d like to fill with volunteerism that isn’t being met in your community, consider forming a nonprofit corporation to meet that need. By forming a nonprofit corporation, you’ll be able to access more funding. Then you’ll be ready to begin fundraising and raising awareness.
A famous mantra once proclaimed, “it’s better to be at the bottom of the right ladder, than halfway up the wrong one”. If you’re feeling disenchanted with your work and career, it might be worth retraining for something new. Many degrees now take place online, meaning you can learn remotely, whilst working or tending to family obligations. Just remember to ensure that any online institute you apply for is accredited and offers competitive tuition rates.
Both listening and playing music can have tremendous value for a person’s mental health. If you don’t play, you might find an investment in an instrument and lessons gives you the kick you need to get things off the ground.
Exercise can provide tremendous benefits for a person’s mental and physical wellbeing, but it’s also important to look beyond the physical advantages. Team sports, for example, also provide social fulfillment, especially for adults, who often struggle to meet new people and engage socially outside of the family unit. Even if you’re lacking in ability, amateur-level evening clubs are organized for the purpose of getting people active and playing together.
For those of us who don’t feel in control of their lives, art may provide a fitting solution. Whether you’re painting a canvas, sculpting clay, or cutting up newspapers, in the creative world you have full ownership, authority, and zoning out for a couple of hours to make something with your own two hands can feel hugely liberating.
Keeping a journal isn’t just therapeutic, it’s a great way to check on your progress and ensure that you’re moving in the right direction. Poor mental health often relates to feelings of stagnation (feeling that you haven’t progressed), a journal can help remove any internal bias and allow you to look back and see your own development for what it is.
When it comes to managing our mental health, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For this reason, it’s always best to try a number of methods and find one that suits you personally whether you’re journaling, starting a nonprofit, or immersing yourself in music.