“The shit that makes your heart beat faster and your eyes glow
when you do it or talk about it, no matter if it’s
hiking, yoga, gardening, painting, sex, meditation,
photography, going for walks, helping others – do that. Do it
as often as you can. Because that’s what life is about.
Creating as many passionate, happy moments
as possible. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing
the things you love – not even yourself.”
I was scrolling through Pinterest one evening and came across a few of these 30 Day Challenges- health, fitness, etc- upon the New Year. I thought to myself, why not create a 30 day challenge dedicated to improving mental health as well? With the new year and the new decade upon us, I’d like mental health to become a higher priority on my list. Sometimes life seems to be all about go-go-go and not stopping to smell the roses- I’m so sorry for using such a lame phrase. But the thing is, not stopping and enjoying the present and constantly thinking about what comes next becomes a pile of stress. I’m not writing this to tell you to stop looking forward or to stop planning, but I’m writing this to give us a moment in the day to stop stressing and focus on ourselves. Even if it’s just for that moment. Without further ado, and before this turns into a ramble, let’s begin! Instead of the traditional day-by-day layout, I have grouped each thing in four sections with seven or eight ideas so you can choose what you’d do in a week. Give you options to work into your busy life, per se!
Plan a healthy meal –
Let’s kick off with something fairly simple; at some point during your week, plan to have a healthy meal. Whether it be a breakfast loaded with fruits, a salad for lunch, or a dinner with green vegetables piled on. Work it into your diet for the day and enjoy it!
Do 30 minutes of yoga –
There are many benefits to practicing yoga: physically and mentally. Whether it’s your first time or hundredth, work in a solid yoga work out for thirty minutes, and you’ll find your mind calm and your body feeling great. A personal favorite of mine, to do at home, is following along with one of Yoga with Adriene‘s videos. I find that she’s one of my favorite online instructors and her videos very easy to follow!
Go to bed early –
Often we find that there’s so much to do in one day that we sacrifice our sleep schedule to get it done, but this often leaves us drained and dragging the next morning. Take a night to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. Wake up refreshed and ready to jump back into the game.
Drink just water –
Are you like me and absolutely horrid with staying hydrated throughout the day? Honestly, as a flight attendant, I should be much better about this! I challenge you to drink only water this particular day. No coffee, energy drinks, sodas, alcohol, etc. Start your day with a cup of iced lemon water, and you’ll find that you’ll have a bit more energy throughout the day than you think!
Compliment someone –
It takes absolutely no effort to give someone a genuine compliment. Whether you’re waiting for your venti iced caramel macchiato at Starbucks or grocery shopping. Take a moment to observe those around you and compliment that lady’s purse. If you find yourself at home all day, compliment someone on social media or shoot a text to your best friend to tell them something you like about your friendship. Not only will you feel a bit better about yourself, but you also just might make someone’s day!
FaceTime/spend time with family/friends –
A lot of us may live far away from family, a lot of us may live near by them, but I challenge you this week to block off some time to spend time with them. Whether it be a phone call, a FaceTime, a dinner… try to make the effort. Your family may not be the traditional family- it could be your friends. Just take some time to talk to them. You may just feel a bit better venting or chatting to them or letting them do the same.
Unfollow negative social media accounts –
How many of us are guilty of waking up and rolling over to check out social medias immediately? I’ll admit it, I’m horrible about it. It’s certainly the first thing I do once my brain begins functioning. So, while you’re scrolling through, take a moment to unfollow/delete someone that tends to post negative things or tends to make you feel negative about yourself.
Set a mini goal –
This can be something as simple as completing this challenge or folding your laundry as soon as it’s out of the dryer- I’m talking to myself on this one. Good lord, Allie, just put your laundry away for once! Make it something easily attainable so you can feel accomplished once it’s finished!
Do something outside –
Take your dog for a walk, have your morning coffee outside, eat a meal outside, have a snowball fight, make a snowman… Just take some time to step outside of the house beyond running to your car or to the subway onto the next task of your day. The options are endless, honestly. Even if it’s raining: go outside and dance in the rain! Grey’s Anatomy‘s Cristina Yang said it best: “We have to dance it out, that’s how we finish.”
Take 10 minutes to read –
Whether it be a blog post (like this one, eh?), a book you’ve been meaning to start, a news article (though this may put a damper on)… take ten minutes out of your day to read something stimulating and, perhaps, not work related. If you’re looking for suggestions, perhaps head on over to my books section to find something that may spark your interest?
Say no to something –
Too often we feel pressured to say yes to everything: whether it be because you fear disappointing someone or feel obligated to say yes. If your friends want to go out and grab drinks, and you’d rather curl up in bed with messy hair, no makeup, and sweatpants, do it. Say “thanks but no thanks” and put those damn sweatpants on, dreamer! You are not obligated to say yes to everything that comes your way. Also, you are not obligated to give an explanation behind your no, but that doesn’t mean be impolite! Sometimes you just need a night to yourself to improve your mental health.
Watch a silly video –
I am a sucker for silly animal videos, okay? Even if just for a moment during a horrid day, a video of an adorable dog doing something silly manages to bring a smile to my face! I often like to scroll back through my phone and watch silly videos of my friends and I being absolute nutters because it brings back good memories that make me feel all fuzzy inside. Whatever makes you smile, feel fuzzy, or laugh: watch it!
Donate something you don’t use –
Okay, so you know that fuzzy blanket hidden deep in the crevice of your closet? Or that shirt you keep telling yourself you’ll wear but never do? Or those shoes you purchased just in case but never wore? The unused makeup that you know your friend would love? Donate it. Get rid of it. You don’t need the extra clutter! There are people that could benefit from that blanket you keep hidden all the way in the back of your closet, and you’ll free up some extra space along the way. It’s a win-win!
Schedule a game night –
So remember how you were supposed to talk to your family/friends the week before? Maybe you used that conversation to schedule a game night with them, or you schedule it another time. What’s important is that it’s scheduled, and it’ll happen! Because who doesn’t want to spend an evening with a little healthy competition and kicking ass at Uno or Monopoly? My friends and I used to have a game night pretty much every Sunday evening, and somehow we’re still friends after causing them to go bankrupt in Monopoly. I like to dub myself Uno Queen, as well.
Ask for help –
Sometimes you really can’t do it all in one day, and things have to get done all in one day. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking someone for help. If you have an important project due and two other tasks to get done that could easily be passed off to someone? Ask for their help. You can’t do everything and asking for help might just relieve some of the heavy weight on your shoulders.
Schedule something fun –
Whether it be with friends or with yourself, schedule something fun in your planner. It doesn’t have to be something huge, it could be as simple as taking yourself out to Target or go see a film at the theater. Remember that were trying to take a break from our stressful lives here, so let’s have a bit of fun, yeah? Improve your mental health by giving yourself a break.
Cross off an item from your to do list –
Remember how you made that mini goal for yourself the previous week? Perhaps this is the day you fold that laundry as soon as it’s out of the dryer! And when you cross that off the list, take a moment to feel accomplished in whatever it is you’ve done.
Book a date night –
So, I know not everyone has a significant other, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do this one too. If you have a significant other, work out a night where you can have a date, even if it’s just taking an evening to watch a movie in your living room. And, if you don’t have a significant other, take yourself out for a dinner date or gather your friends for a friend date. Just book it in your planner!
Have a phone free night –
We are so co-dependent on our phones nowadays, that it really feels great to shut it off for the evening. You’ll find that you have quite a bit more free time when you just shut off your phone and aren’t scrolling through your social media accounts. Perhaps this is the evening you pick up that book you started the week before and read for longer than ten minutes. Or, maybe you found that you really liked that thirty minutes of yoga in the first week, and you do another thirty minutes. You’ll find that this has a very positive effect on your mental health.
Write down five good things that happened –
When you’re weighed down with stress, it can be hard to see the positive moments in the day, week, or month. Sit down with a pen and write down five good things that happened to you that day, week, or month- small or big. It can be as simple as you had a great cup of coffee that morning or that you received a compliment that week. Write them down and, perhaps, things won’t seem as bad afterwards.
Adopt a new habit that makes you feel good –
Hey, remember that day you drank only water? Or spent ten minutes reading? Went to bed early? Did it make you feel good? Make that a new habit of yours!
Try a 5 minute meditation –
As I said with yoga, there a lot of benefits that come along with meditation: it can help reduce stress, control anxiety, enhance self-awareness, lengthen attention span, improves sleep, and so many more things. Take five minutes to meditate. It may feel silly at first, but I challenge you to try it at least once.
Do a deep breathing exercise –
Another action that promotes health benefits is deep breathing. This can increase energy levels, help with bad posture, detoxify the body, improves digestion, and relax both your body and mind. This is the final week of the challenge, so this may be a good way to either start it off or finish the challenge with!
Catch up with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while –
You can do this over a phone call, through text, in person… which ever works best for you. Our busy lives tend to be so focused on ourselves, that we tend to forget to check in with our friends we don’t see often. Do you have a friend that lives far away that you haven’t seen in ages? Chat them up, see how they have been doing.
Go for a walk –
Take a bit of time to yourself and go for a walk around your neighborhood, around a shopping area, or a park. Wherever your walk takes place, I challenge you to do it alone and reflect on the past month. Has your mental health been more positive since you’ve been taking some time for yourself or since you’ve blocked out time for friends and family?
Listen to music that makes you feel good –
You can do this on your commute to work or on the walk you’re taking. I notice that music tends to lift me up or bring me down, especially when I listen to something that happens to hit home. Turn on a playlist that you know will make your mental health feel a bit more positive and start your day with this.
Give yourself a spa night –
If your budget allows for this, you can do this at an actual spa, but, if you’re on a tighter budget like myself, you can very easily do this at home. Take a long bath or shower, shave the body parts you like to shave, exfoliate your skin with a sugar scrub, put on your favorite lotion, use a face mask, make some chamomile tea… there are so many budget-friendly methods for this that you can do at home!
Pick up a favorite hobby you may have forgotten about –
Did you used to knit, crochet, draw, paint, photograph things? Did you love these things and have to put them aside because you’re too busy or too stressed? Block out some time this week to pick this hobby up and remember just how much you love to do it.
Change your bedsheets and make your bed-
This is something I find that people don’t do enough- guilty as charged. But there is nothing better than climbing into freshly washed sheets and blankets at the end of the day. Just do it. This is something that will improve your mental health just simply knowing you’ll go to sleep in a clean bed.
Watch your favorite film –
It can be a film you’ve seen a hundred times but take a night to watch it. You’ll feel relaxed in your freshly cleaned sheets with your favorite film going, I promise!
Are you going to participate in the 30 Day Mental Health Challenge? Are you only going to participate for a week? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the challenge (before and after!) and if it helped improve your mental health, so pop a comment below!