Our society places an extraordinary amount of attention on a person’s physical fitness. And, while it’s certainly important to take care of that branch of health, the spotlight is so bright that we often fail to pay attention to our mental health needs, too.
This fall is the perfect time to change all of that by picking up a new hobby that will keep your mind fit, too. The following are just six of many examples of the healthy fall activities you can focus on and improve your mental health by season’s end and beyond.
You probably already have a general idea of all that yoga must offer you. Aside from the physical benefits, which include improved flexibility and muscle toning, you can also use yoga to clear your mind of stress. Many practitioners learn how to breathe deeply as they move from pose to pose, a simple practice that has the power to reduce stress on its own.
But the physical practice of yoga is also a great way to diffuse tension that is built up from daily stressors. A regular practice further balances out your mood, helping you reset to a serene resting state.
Like yoga, journaling gives you time to relax and think. But there are so many benefits to journaling that are less well known than the stretchy practice we already mentioned.
Those who regularly write in a journal often find that they’re better able to pinpoint stressors; they also use writing to work out ways to diffuse this stress, brainstorming on the pages of their diary. A journal can also be a place where you write down all of the things for which you are thankful at the start of the day. A gratitude journal will improve your attitude and give you a more positive outlook, as what you write will remind you just how lucky you are.
- DIY Projects
Everyone needs a hobby. Not having an activity outside of work and social engagements could put a damper on your mental health, especially if you’re feeling bored, unchallenged or lonely.
One great way to re-engage is to take on DIY projects. They’ll give you something to work toward and figure out on your own, sparking that intellectual fire that you miss. You can enlist the help of a friend or family member, too, to make it a little more fun.
DIY projects can range from large ones, like home renovation and backyard landscaping, to small crafts, such as oil painting, cross-stitching or fashioning your own jewelry with professional tools. If you’re not sure where to start, look around your house or peruse Pinterest boards for DIY inspiration. You can also try and remember the hobbies or outstanding skills you had as a child and use those to inspire your new regular activity.
When is the last time you picked up a book and read it for pleasure? Chances are, it’s been a while: when schedules get busy, relaxing activities like reading are the first to get cut. This fall, though, you should try and re-incorporating reading into your regular routine.
There are so many reasons why reading is the ideal fit-minded activity. For one, you get to spend a little bit of quiet time on your own. This will do wonders for the state of your mental health, especially if you feel stressed or overwhelmed by a bustling schedule. Obviously, reading also makes you smarter: you’ll learn all about different cultures, time periods, vocabulary words and historical events. Sharpening your mind through an enjoyable activity is a two-for-one deal we know you can get behind.
- Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a habit to get into this fall because, simply put, it’s an incredible way to pare down stress you feel by understanding why you feel it. Mindfulness allows you to take a step back and process your thoughts – acknowledging why you feel a way is the best way to diffuse emotions on overdrive.
Mindfulness doesn’t mean you reject any feelings of negativity, either. Instead, you learn how to deal with them and move forward. In turn, being mindful makes you more present in your life, shielding you from distractions that keep you away from what’s important. If that’s not a great way to get your mind in shape this fall, then we don’t know what is.
A busy schedule could prevent you from reaching your full culinary potential: many days, it’s easier to grab something quick, easy or pre-made instead of whipping up dinner on your own. But your diet can have a big effect on your mental health, so it’s worth firing up the oven this fall and nourishing your body with the vitamins and minerals you need.
Not only will cooking make you feel good, you’ll also gradually become better and more skilled in the kitchen — you might even come to enjoy whipping up dinner for yourself, your family and your friends. Skill-building is, obviously, a way to sharpen your mind, too, so cooking is another one-two punch of self-improvement that you should take.
By adopting just one of these practices, you’ll find your mind in its best shape ever. It doesn’t matter if you try cooking, journaling or DIY-ing — stick to it and see just how much more fit your mind is this fall and beyond.