Cure the Winter Blues: Mental Wellness Practices
We all know that a healthy mind is just as important as a fit body, but all too often we become so immersed in our hectic lives that we forget to pay attention to our mental wellness.
Like physical fitness, mental wellness takes conscious effort; it doesn’t happen on auto pilot. Nevertheless, staying emotionally fit is vital for our health and wellbeing, and it’s worth taking the time to develop sound mental health habits. With that in mind, here are ten mental wellness tips that can help you take care of one of your greatest assets.
Meditate – Research shows that a daily 10 minute meditation, deep breathing or visualization exercise will not only calm your mind and reduce stress and anxiety, but help with depression, chronic pain, asthma, high blood pressure and other physical ailments. Find a private place where you can sit quietly in a comfortable chair or use a floor cushion on a comfortable rug. We like meditating on our wool Moroccan tribal rug which lends a touch of ethnic beauty to our meditation space.
Take “Me” Time – When cultivating mental wellness, it’s important to give yourself permission to regularly do things that bring you joy. “Me time” might be a solitary pursuit such as reading, drawing, writing, doing crafts, listening to music or taking a bubble bath, but it can also be spent with others doing something you love, such as going to the movies or an art gallery. The key is to consistently carve out time for yourself (without any guilt!).
Garden – Caring for plants can be as nourishing for the soul as it is for the environment. Even if you don’t have a green thumb or acres of land, you can still enjoy the tranquility that comes from nurturing nature. Our succulent driftwood gardens, miniature topiaries, air plant terrariums and living wall art are all wonderful easy-care options.
Walk a Labyrinth – The ancient practice of walking a circular maze-like path to the center and back out, can help you get answers to perplexing questions, find inner strength, feel at peace, calm and quiet your mind, and find comfort in times of loss. Often called a walking meditation, labyrinths are found all over the world; to see if there’s one near you, check the Worldwide Labyrinth Locator database which lists over 4500 labyrinths in 75+ countries.
Unplug – A weekend retreat in the country is a great way to recharge your mental health, provided you leave your iPads and laptops at home, limit your cell phone use to essential calls, and resist the urge to check in on Facebook. Instead, focus on enjoying the company of others: have a relaxed chat over coffee, take a stroll in the woods, or sit on a dock watching the sunset.
Yoga and Tai Chi – Both of these ancient practices can help you quiet your mind, calm down, let go of stress, decrease blood pressure, combat depression, and improve balance, flexibility and circulation.
Volunteer – Doing things for others in your community, without expecting anything in return, gives you a sense of purpose and makes you feel good about yourself. Helping others kindles happiness, broadens your support network and fosters relationships, all of which are important for mental wellness.
Adopt a Pet – Animals have tremendous healing powers, and their mere presence can be immensely calming and curative. Whether you’re petting your cat, giving your dog a belly rub, feeding your fish or simply watching the birds and squirrels in your yard, focusing on another living being helps distract your mind from your problems.
Laugh – We’ve all heard the saying “Laughter is the best medicine.” Although laughter can’t actually cure anything, it does reduce stress, improves your mood, releases tension, reduces pain and makes you feel happy. These are all good things that can help you in your quest for mental wellness.