With October now behind us, the Halloween candy is all gone and it’s time to look to the holiday season. Mental health is important 365 days of the year, but we get it — the November and December celebrations might cause just a littttttle extra stress and anxiety. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the chaos of shopping for gifts, preparing for loved ones to visit, and all of the other jolly things. And if you’re starting to feel your mood suffering, we want to give you the tools to improve your mental health.
These simple suggestions may not be a match for more serious mental health challenges (we encourage you to see a doctor if you’re experiencing those!), but they can help combat more minor bouts of anxiety, loneliness, and the blues. Keep scrolling for ten manageable mental health fixes.
1. Get your body moving!
Yoga is our thing, so we’re obviously kind of partial to all things exercise… but we’re hardly the only ones suggesting that making a habit of moving your body is really great if you want to improve your mental health. (And we love being right.)
According to Psychology Today, our bodies release stress-relieving, mood-boosting hormones both before and after a good workout. Those endorphins are proven to help combat common mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
And you don’t need to hit the gym for hours at a time to reap the benefits! Even finding smaller opportunities to move — parking your car a bit further in the parking lot, taking the stairs instead of the elevator — can go a long way. And might we suggest yoga? Use our Yoga Calculator to figure out which class might be the best for you, or check out bulldog online to stream classes any time, anywhere.
2. Give yourself a compliment.
You probably don’t treat yourself nearly as well as you treat your friends and family members. What’s up with that? We bet you would never talk about others with the (not-so-nice) words you use to talk about yourself.
Change the narrative and improve your mental health in the process by making an effort to more consistently say nice things to yourself. Start by paying yourself an intentional compliment when you’re looking in the mirror every morning. With practice, it will become more natural to be kind to you!
3. Spend time with the most positive people in your life.
Per Healthy Place, the power of positivity is very real when it comes to tending to your mental health. It’s proven impactful for people battling mental illness… so why shouldn’t it be important in your own day-to-day efforts to maintain your mood, stress, and anxiety levels?
Making a habit of positive affirmations (see above!) plays a part in this, but so does building relationships with people who bring that positivity into your life. Stop spending time with people who bring you down and prioritize instead the people who make you feel lighter and happier.
4. Shake up the routine!
The University of Michigan’s University Health Service suggests that you “break up the monotony” in order to take care of your mental health. Why? Routines do lend themselves to efficiency, but they can also make things feel a little, well, routine.
If you’re feeling a little more down in the dumps than usual lately, consider making some small tweaks to your usual schedule. A break in the routine might be just what you need to snap out of a funk and reset your mental health.
5. Practice mindfulness.
Meditation is all the rage lately, but there’s more than one way to be mindful. If you want to bring more mindfulness to your life but aren’t sure that meditating is your thing, you could also try gratitude journaling (there is so much to be thankful for!), taking quiet walks, stretching, or practicing deep breathing exercises.
According to Rogers Behavioral Health, mindfulness practices are beneficial for mental health because they promote better stress management and work-life balance. As an extra bonus, mindfulness helps slow the aging process. Sign us up!
6. Take some down time.
It might sound simple, but sometimes, all you need to experience an improvement in your mental health is a little quiet time for yourself. Call off your commitments for a few hours — dare we say the whole day? — and do exactly. what. you. want.
What feels good? Do that thing.
It’s not especially clinical, but this suggestion can work wonders, especially if you’re mostly trying to maintain a baseline level of mental health that’s already pretty good.
7. Press pause on social media.
Instagram is really fun, but it’s no secret that our newfound reliance on social media platforms has taken a toll on our collective mental health. One study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology confirms that people who cut back on their social media use over the course of three weeks experienced lower levels of depression, loneliness, anxiety, and FOMO than their counterparts who kept scrolling through their Facebook and Twitter feeds.
We don’t expect you to quit social media cold turkey (if nothing else, it’s kind of fun to check out those Instagram health and fitness ads), but there are clearly mental health benefits to taking a social networking chill pill. Start by limiting yourself to a certain time period on these platforms per day, then see how you feel from there!
8. Give back.
Psychology Today points to research that speaks to the power of doing good for others. According to this data, giving back to other people boosts your own self-esteem, which, in turn, improves mental health.
You can give back in small ways (dropping off groceries with a family member, picking up trash in your neighborhood) or in big ways (volunteering with a local organization, tutoring at a nearby school)! Take the time to gauge what seems to make the biggest impact and improve your own mental health.
9. Crank your favorite tunes!
Is there anything that’s not better with music?
Yeah, we don’t think so.
We, of course, are partial to throwback tunes, but you know what songs are most likely to improve your mood. Collect all of those feel-good jams on a playlist and crank the volume any time you’re feeling low.
10. Get some rest.
While sleeping too much can be a symptom of depression, making consistent rest a priority is an important part of mental health maintenance. According to the National Sleep Foundation, even low levels of sleep deprivation can chip away at your mood over time. If you’re feeling like your mental health is suffering, try aiming for an earlier bedtime or treating yourself to a weekend nap.
**Please consult a medical professional if you’ve been experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues for an extended period of time!
How can you commit to boosting your mental health heading into the holiday season? Tell us on Instagram (Boulder | Villanova) or over on our Boulder and Villanova Facebook pages!
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Featured image: Natasha Spencer/Unsplash; Friend image: Helena Lopes/Unsplash; Sleep image: Kinga Cichewicz/Unsplash