Even though mental health isn’t talked about in the same way that other health problems are, it affects a large portion of the population. In 2017, an estimated 46.6 million American adults had a mental illness, or 18.9 percent of all U.S. adults (almost 1 in 5). As more research and statistics come to light, more and more people are learning about mental health and looking for ways to alleviate their symptoms.
There’s no replacement for going to therapy or taking necessary medications, but there are little things you can do to cheer yourself up around the house, especially during the winter months. These eight activities aren’t a replacement for therapy and other mental health care, but they will give your mood a quick boost if you’re feeling down. Here are eight self-care activities that you can do at home:
Take a soothing bath.
Whether you do a lot of physical labor or sit hunched over a computer all day, the odds are that your body will probably be pretty sore when you get home in the evening. Soothe your sore muscles and destress by drawing yourself a hot bath. Add some bath salts or bubble bath to enhance the experience, and light some soy or coconut wax candles to further add to the ambiance. You can also plug in an aroma diffuser if you’re worried about open flames–just put it far away from water. Close your eyes and relax, or pass the time by reading a book or listening to a podcast (don’t drop your paperback or phone into the tub!).
Cook a healthy meal.
Meals nourish us physically and mentally, and they’re easier on your budget to boot. Cooking at home doesn’t have to be an exhausting production, so seek out recipes that require minimal prep time. There are many weeknight meal recipes that come together in 30 minutes or less. If you have a slow cooker, you can also make stews and meats in that by dumping in all the ingredients in the morning and then letting it cook all day. You’ll come home to a delicious meal, and you’ll only have to clean up one pot.
Watch an uplifting TV show.
Sometimes you’re just too exhausted to do anything but watch TV—and that’s okay! Rather than tuning into the news or queueing up a stressful TV show, put on a lighthearted comedy instead. Bonus points if it makes you laugh since laughter helps reduce stress and boost your mood. TV comedies are especially great, since most episodes run about 22 minutes (without commercials), making them the perfect length for a quick break that won’t derail your whole evening.
Do an easy craft.
Crafting is an excellent way to engage different parts of your brain as well as motor functions. If you’re already feeling blue, choose an easy craft that you can master right out of the gate so you’ll feel accomplished rather than frustrated. Some easy craft ideas include making paper flowers, sculpting objects out of bakeable clay, and painting glasses. You might need to plan ahead a little on this one so you have enough time to run to the craft store and get any supplies you might need. If you find yourself messing up and getting frustrated, don’t be afraid to step away and come back to it later. Remember, this is supposed to be fun!
Stretch or do yoga.
If all you want to do is lie on the couch and marathon TV, consider taking 15 minutes to move around first before you plop down. Both stretching and yoga can easily be done at home with minimal space and equipment. While it is helpful to have a mat to provide a bit of cushion, if you don’t have one, there are plenty of poses that you can do without lying down on the hard floor. Put together your own routine or look up one of the easy at-home videos available on the internet. If you’re new to yoga but want to try it, specifically look for “beginner” routines that will walk you through each pose.
Fit in a workout.
You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise. You can do it in the comfort of your own home, even if you don’t have a lot of equipment on hand. Plyometric or bodyweight exercises will get your blood and your muscles pumping and only require a bit of space. Do be sure to wear your workout shoes and clothes, as you can still injure yourself even when you’re not using equipment. Again, if you’ve never done these exercises at home before, look up a tutorial before you get started so you can learn proper form.
Call a friend.
You can be social without leaving your house. Connecting with friends helps us feel less alone and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. If you don’t feel up to meeting out, or none of your close friends live nearby, give one of them a call instead. You don’t have to talk about anything major–even venting about your petty work frustrations or swapping theories about your favorite TV show will cheer you up. But if you do need to unburden yourself before your next therapy appointment, a friend is a great listener.
Sleep the smart way.
There’s a reason therapists ask about your sleep quality and duration. Sleeping enough and sleeping well is a huge contributing factor to both mental and physical health. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep at night, and more if you need it. If you nap, don’t do it too late in the afternoon (before 4 p.m. is best) and try to keep it under either 30 minutes or 1.5 hours (or one sleep cycle) to avoid impacting your sleep cycle. If you have insomnia, you shouldn’t nap, as this can further upset your sleep cycle.
Improving your mental health isn’t as easy as lighting a scented candle, but small acts of self- care can be a positive complement to therapy and medication. Try these eight ways to take care of yourself without leaving the house.
About the Author: Taylor Sicard serves as the Co-Founder and CMO of Homesick, a hand-poured candle company that offers specialized scents to invoke feelings of nostalgia. Taylor is responsible for overseeing the planning, development and execution of all Homesick marketing and content initiatives. When he is not working or writing, Taylor enjoys spending time with his fiancé and exploring the great outdoors!
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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