Do small things with great love. — Mother Theresa
Taking care of our personal (and our collective) mental health has become essential in these uncertain times. It has certainly been fundamental in my own life. And I can see why this is important to you too.
Two of the most important barriers to someone taking the steps to take care of their mental health is a perceived lack of time and the apparent effort of these actions. In this fast-paced complicated world, our mental health is often pushed to the side as we care for our physical health, our family, our jobs and any other obligations we hold.
These strategies account for exactly this. These 10 actions are small and practical, taking relatively little time and effort. They can easily fit into your day—when you brush your teeth, as you wait for your coffee to brew, when you sit in rush hour traffic or as you settle under the covers at the end of your day.
There is no better time to invest in yourself. Over the next 10 days, challenge yourself to boost your mental health with these 10 actions. With just a few seconds of investment each day, you will start shifting your focus to the current day and what it has to offer. These incremental shifts will have an overall positive impact on your mental health time.
Mental Health Boost Challenge
DAY 1 — Take a deep breath.
Inhale for 4, hold for 7 and exhale for 8. That is a total of 19 seconds. This is a simple exercise that does wonders on your overall mental health. And it only takes a few seconds! Do this as many times as you need it throughout your day.
DAY 2 — Be grateful.
Identify 3 things you are grateful for today. The sunshine? A home-cooked meal? Breathing? Technology to connect with others? There is still so much to be grateful when times get difficult. Sit with these blessings for a few seconds to really take in what they mean to you.
DAY 3 — Smile to yourself.
In a simple, and unapologetic manner—smile. You are doing all that you can, recognize and celebrate this. Smiling takes a few seconds—possibly not even that. And it is an instant way to boost your mood. If you are off-put by this action, trust that by doing it more, it will become easier.
DAY 4 — Reach out to a loved one with a few thoughtful words.
The technology available to help us connect with others is ever growing. On a practical level, it is simpler than ever to connect with those we love. The hard part is sharing with these individuals how much we love and appreciate them. Let someone you love know that they are not alone because you are there.
DAY 5 — Turn off your technology.
Technology, as we just discussed, has many benefits. Nevertheless, our tech-oriented culture makes it difficult for us to disconnect. Turning off your technology or placing it in another room only takes a few seconds (but still a considerable amount of willpower) and can have lasting positive impacts on your day.
DAY 6 — Breathe in the fresh air.
Open the window or step out on your outdoor steps/patio/balcony. Breathe in the fresh air. Listen to the sounds of the world—from the big city noises and the quiet ruffles of nature. Stop what you are doing and take it all in for a few seconds. This is what it feels like to be alive.
DAY 7 — Engage in light stretches.
Moving your body gently is a great way to return to the moment and boost your mental health. This can mean doing a strengthening exercise, stretching or moving your body to the rhythm of music. There is no need to exhaust yourself. Just move your body in a mindful way for a few breaths.
DAY 8 — Crank up your favourite song.
There is something to be said about the impact of music on our mood. Within seconds, music can shift your mental health for the better. Choose a song that is uplifting and that you really love and enjoy. Extra boost for those who choose to dance and belt it out.
DAY 9 — Clear your schedule.
We constantly overwhelm ourselves with too many “to dos” in a day. It is worth taking a few seconds to cut out all unnecessary tasks scheduled for your day. Allow yourself to slow down, creating space for activities that bring you joy and peace. This may not be easy but it will certainly boost your mental health.
DAY 10 — Be kind to yourself.
You have done incredible things for yourself over the past 10 days. Praise yourself like you would praise your best friend who just finished this same challenge. If you are having difficulty with this act of kindness, take in my words to you: I am proud of you. You did great. It’s so courageous of you to show up for yourself.
Other good reads: