World Mental Health Day is observed annually on October 10 – it’s an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health issues around the globe, and for experts to discuss solutions for making access to care a reality for all people.
While challenges like depression and anxiety are best addressed with professional help, there are ways that we can all take charge of improving individual mental health – no matter our baseline. Consider these tips for a better outlook on life:
Get some exercise. Research suggests that exercise does more than keep your body physically fit; it can boost mood-related brain chemicals and hormones and possibly even ease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Don’t worry if you’re short on time; even a small amount of exercise can help, so a simple stroll around the block after dinner can reap benefits.
Defeat clutter. Did you know that clutter is said to have associations with depression, anxiety, and weight gain? Clutter can weigh heavily on the soul, both literally and figuratively. Start small by clearing a single area at a time, such as the kitchen junk drawer, and then branch out from there.
Go to sleep. Sleep deprivation is a national crisis, fueled in part by addiction to screens. Practice good sleep hygiene by cutting out caffeine and alcohol in the hours before bed, power down devices, and keep screens out of the bedroom.
Count your blessings. The link between possessions and happiness is weak at best. In a world where priority is all too often placed on acquiring material things, take time to be grateful about the gifts you already have, whether that means keeping a gratitude journal or simply giving the topic a few moments of thought.
Balance work and play. Research has shown that people who work 11+ hours daily as opposed to a more reasonable 7 or 8 are more likely to suffer from depression. Need help in this area? Try scheduling your down time on the calendar, just as you would an important work meeting.
Commune with the great outdoors. Too much time inside can deprive us of Vitamin D, which our bodies produce when exposed to sunlight and which also helps stave off depression. Nature itself also provides its own therapeutic benefits, so a stroll through green space (even a city park) can be calming for the soul.
Connect with others. Social withdrawal can be both a symptom and a cause of depression and anxiety. Seeing friends and family regularly, even for a quick cup of coffee, can be uplifting – and if you’re resisting getting off the couch, it’s a sure sign that you’re in need of more meaningful human connection.
Whether you mark World Mental Health Day by educating yourself about mental health issues, taking charge of your own mental health, or reaching out to someone who needs a helping hand, it’s an opportunity to make a positive impact for yourself and others.