Mental and Physical Activities to Help Clear Your Mind

This year has been incredibly challenging for many, and whether you’re struggling with social isolation or you’re trying to make ends meet on a reduced work schedule, there’s no doubt that we could all use a little bit of extra calm in 2020. Now that we’ve discussed the importance of understanding your own mental health and being mindful of this area of life, it’s time to dive into some concrete ways that you can keep your spirits high no matter what’s going on around you. Study after study has shown that there’s a strong link between our mental health and how we move our bodies and use our minds.

Physical activity releases chemicals in your brain that make you feel good but don’t think that you have to become a professional athlete just to get these benefits. Taking part in a sport or physical hobby offers a sense of accomplishment, can improve the quality of your sleep, and even leads to new social connections that enhance your life. Stress, one of the most prominent enemies of good mental health, can manifest itself physically too, leading to symptoms of anxiety or depression. Using your mind to calm yourself and ease your worried thoughts can have a great impact in an immediate way and also brings long-term mental health benefits to your life as well. Let’s explore five physical and five mental activities you can do to boost your mental health and stay calm this year.

Moving Your Body

When you’re feeling low, sometimes getting yourself off the couch is the last thing you feel like doing. It’s well-proven, though, that as you start to move your body, you naturally begin to shift your mood. Each of the following activities has an immense array of mental health benefits:

Hiking

Simply being in nature can sometimes be calming enough for some people, but if you’re wondering how a hike can help your mental health, consider the fact that every time you go on a hike, your brain releases a protein that actually stimulates neuron growth. When you couple that with hiking’s cardio benefit of burning about 500 calories per hour, you have a mind and body connection that’s sure to beat any bad mood. Many people also find that being in nature inspires them in a creative way, whether it’s through writing, singing, or painting.

Biking

Whether you take a spin on a bike as a method of transportation or you simply want to enjoy some outdoor fun, cycling is a great way to move your body in an effort to boost your mental health. Not only will you strengthen your legs and your core, but even beginners can enjoy this family-friendly activity. Being able to focus on the road in front of you allows you to clear your mind and releases endorphins. You may also gain a feeling of confidence as you conquer longer or more challenging routes.

Walking & Running

While it’s obvious that this type of activity can help when it comes to weight loss and improved overall health, there’s more than meets the eye with running and walking. Studies have shown that this form of exercise actually improves your brain and can reduce cognitive decline. As you run, or even walk around the block at a brisk pace, you’re lowering your risk of cancer, reducing your blood pressure, and improving your cardiovascular health. It’s also been recommended as a way to treat depression and when you physically feel better, you naturally feel better mentally too.

Snowboarding & Skiing

Have you been on the slopes on a bright and sunny day? You can’t help but put a smile on your face, and that’s just one of many ways that skiing and snowboarding can help boost your mental health. Not only are you burning calories, increasing your flexibility, and becoming stronger, but this time is usually spent with friends and family, giving you a huge dose of happiness. If you’ve ever been on a snowy mountain for the day you know that by the time it’s evening, you’re ready for bed. You’ll enjoy a night of deep and restful sleep and wake up feeling happier and refreshed.

Camping

Have you been on the slopes on a bright and sunny day? You can’t help but put a smile on your face, and that’s just one of many ways that skiing and snowboarding can help boost your mental health. Not only are you burning calories, increasing your flexibility, and becoming stronger, but this time is usually spent with friends and family, giving you a huge dose of happiness. If you’ve ever been on a snowy mountain for the day you know that by the time it’s evening, you’re ready for bed. You’ll enjoy a night of deep and restful sleep and wake up feeling happier and refreshed.

Mental Matters

It’s obvious that physical activity can release endorphins that make you feel happier, but how can you improve your mental health without moving your body much? It’s important that we consider balance in all areas of life, yet when it comes to our state of mind, working our brains is just as important as working our bodies.

Journaling

Sometimes being able to get your thoughts out on paper can be incredibly therapeutic, as people find journaling to be a great way to boost mental health. You can use this tool in many different ways, so whether you’re venting frustrations, writing down a list of goals, or reflecting on the great parts about your day, putting pen to paper will naturally lift your spirits. Journaling can also be an effective tool when coupled with therapy, as mental health professionals can help you to uncover patterns in thinking that otherwise might not become apparent.

Meditation

Perhaps one of the most popular recommendations for improving mental well-being is meditation, although it doesn’t have to look the way you might think. People with busy lives rarely get a moment to themselves, but if you’re able to carve out even a few minutes in the morning for some silence, you’ll experience a wealth of benefits. Meditation can help to reduce stress, control your anxiety, promote emotional resilience, lengthen your attention span, and even has been seen to help reduce age-related memory loss.

Reading

When we’re feeling sad or stressed, often times we turn to the television and embark upon a binge session to escape. Rather than zoning out for hours on end, why not consider getting lost in a good book? Reading can help your mental health in a number of ways, from boosting your vocabulary and thus your confidence to helping fight off cognitive decline. It also gives individuals the benefit of strengthening their empathizing skills, something that comes in handy when supporting friends and family in their own mental health journies.

Gardening

People who love to garden will often describe that there’s something about putting your hands in the dirt that’s incredibly calming, making this a great way to boost your mental health if you’re feeling low. Beyond simply feeling the pride of growing your own food, gardening incorporates additional deeper lessons like connecting with the world around you and being able to embrace imperfection. Practicing acceptance is also key when spending time in a garden and it can help you to learn how to be more present.

Drawing & Painting

There’s really something to be said for creativity, and if you’re trying to stay calm and keep your spirits high, both painting and drawing are excellent options to consider. You literally have the entire world at your fingertips here, forcing your brain to do some proverbial heavy lifting. Drawing and painting have been shown to promote stress relief, boost your memory, and even cultivate a person’s emotional growth. If you’re particularly fond of your work, you even have the added benefit of hanging your art on the wall and looking at your accomplishments any time you feel down.

Make Mental Health A Priority

There’s no doubt about it — 2020 has thrown the world a few curve balls and it’s not uncommon to feel as if your mental health might be suffering. If you’ve noticed that you’re experiencing mild symptoms of depression, anxiety, or you simply feel more stressed than normal, consider engaging in some of the activities we’ve mentioned. You don’t have to become an expert at all of them, nor do you have to even try every single one. Think about what speaks to your heart, what seems fun, and what’s possible given your budget and overall lifestyle. Not only will you likely come away with a new favorite hobby, but there’s a great chance that you’ll become so engaged in your activity that your stress melts away and your mental health gets a huge boost! During the global pandemic, it’s our hope that each reader will take the time to evaluate his or her own mental health and seek support when needed. If running or painting isn’t enough, don’t be afraid to read out for professional help and take the necessary steps to improve your mental well-being.


POPULAR READS