As a society, it’s fair to say that we’re taking mental health more seriously. Not only are we recognising when things go wrong, but we’re proactively taking steps to ensure that they stay right. Much as we might lift weights, go jogging, or take up badminton in order to keep ourselves physically fit, we’re also setting aside time in our days to keep our minds in the best possible shape.
Certain activities have been heavily linked with positive mental health outcomes. Let’s take a look at a few of the best of them.
Getting out in the garden confers a number of distinct mental health benefits.
Firstly, it’ll allow you to surround yourself with greenery. Human beings have evolved to relax when they’re around trees and plants – since this sort of environment tends to correlate to an ample supply of food.
Secondly, it’ll give you a chance to soak up the sunshine, which helps to bolster your mood. Thirdly, you’ll be doing a lot of physical activity, which does the same thing. Fourth, you’ll have something to focus on, and to plan over the medium term. Fifth, you’ll have a supply of edible foods to enjoy in the kitchen.
Getting the best from your garden means investing in just a few key tools, and a lot of time. These might include, pots, trowels, soil, seeds, and perhaps a polytunnel or two for the most passionate among us.
As we’ve already mentioned, physical activity tends to produce positive effects on your state of mind. After all, the brain is a physical organ, just as your lungs and heart are. Certain kinds of sports tend to produce better outcomes, but rather than wondering what the optimal sport might be, it’s a good idea to simply focus on what you most enjoy.
If you can find an activity that you really like, and it provides social benefits, too, then you’ll be much likelier to stick with it in the long run. This goes especially on those cold winter mornings when you might otherwise be tempted to stay in bed rather than head outside.
Having a clean and tidy home environment will allow you to focus better, and eliminate stress in general. This goes especially if you’re working from home, and you like to be able to concentrate. It’s also worth thinking about the therapeutic benefits of simple repetitive activities like mopping the kitchen floor and washing the dishes.
As you tick the chores off, you might find yourself buoyed by a new sense of achievement, and self-worth. Get yourself organised and start the tasks early in the day, and you’ll be able to build the habit of cleaning over the long term. Just don’t beat yourself up when you don’t quite meet your self-imposed targets.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.