There are, of course, many ways to support your mental health. Often, we pick a few things that we know will provide a boost to our ongoing mental wellness, and we commit to them. You stick with an exercise program. You cut down on sugar and caffeine and add some healthier foods to your diet. You keep a journal to help sort out your emotions.
The Good & Bad of Routines
All of those things are great approaches to supporting your mental health. And if you can build them into your life as consistent routines, you can expect consistent benefits. Routines can be powerful because they provide a sense of control, which can help keep anxiety and depression at bay.
But sometimes a routine becomes a rut, right?
If you feel as though you are in a rut, the routine is probably not providing the mental health benefits that you want and need—at least not as effectively as usual. So every now and again, it is a great idea to inject a little flexibility and creativity into your mental health boosting activities. We have a few ideas.
Build Yourself Up by Enjoying Something You’re Good At
Let’s face it: We all face plenty of challenges. From projects at work or school to difficult relationships, there is generally something we’re trying to figure out, overcome, or make better. And that can be frustrating because things don’t always come easily or turn out the way we might prefer. Frustration and disappointment can have a negative impact on our mental health.
Knowing that, it can be a good idea to give yourself a boost by doing something you’re really good at. Maybe you can solve a Rubik’s Cube or a crossword puzzle really fast. Maybe you are a gifted oboist. Maybe you can make short work of the final boss in your favorite video game.
It doesn’t really matter what the activity is. Reminding yourself of your skills can provide a confidence boost. And that confidence boost can serve you well as you turn your attention back to the next challenge in your day.
Try Something Entirely New, Just for Fun
In some ways this suggestion is the opposite of the previous idea. But there is a lot to be said for the benefits of trying something new. Writing a poem or a short story (even if you never show it to anyone), picking a recipe at random in a cookbook and giving it a go, or trying to learn to play the harmonica—any of these activities and others like them can shift your focus from your difficulties and anxieties, because learning a new skill requires your full attention.
The trick here is to enjoy the process and the novelty while not letting yourself get bogged down in whether or not you are good at whatever you decide to try. After all, it is quite rare that someone trying something new finds they can easily master it. The benefit to mental health here is not to be found in the destination, necessarily, but rather in the journey.
Get Off the Grid, Even If You Just Unplug at Home
We know that the various devices and screens in our lives add to our stress. Email alerts, social media squabbles, breaking news, game notifications—our phones and tablets and laptops and televisions all seem to go out of their way to overstimulate us and put us on edge.
So what if you unplugged for a day or two? You don’t even have to head out to some remote spot where you can’t get cell service. You can just power down your phone and put it in a drawer, shut down your tablet and computer, and put the TV remote on the shelf.
The world will go on just fine without you for a couple of days. And this break from the hustle and bustle can relieve stress and give you space to order your thoughts, remember your goals, and—importantly—simply rest. Just be sure you let those close to you know if you are going off the grid so that they don’t worry when they can’t get ahold of you.
What We Are Not Suggesting: Giving Up What Has Been Working
We want to be clear here. We are not recommending that you give up the routines and practices—the exercise, the good diet, the journaling, or any other mental wellness boosting activities—in favor of new and novel activities. Instead, we are simply recommending that when the opportunity to boost your mental health in a new way arises, you should take advantage. Variety prevents boredom—and preventing boredom makes it less likely that you will give up your helpful routines.
We Can Help You Achieve & Maintain Better Mental Health
At Peak View Behavioral Health, we have the compassion, expertise, and experience necessary to provide exceptional, personalized mental health care. Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, trauma-based disorders, or other issues, we will listen to you and design a treatment plan that can help you improve your mental well-being. And we will make sure you have the resources, support, and strategies necessary to maintain your mental health over time.