World Mental Health Day

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I started writing this article leaning into the changing of the seasons and how as the leaves turn and the temperature drops the world slows down. I’m always so excited for fall. I live for the salted caramel lattes, cinnamon brooms, pumpkin patches and apple cider. Every breath of cool air as we kick the summer heat out of the house and crunch of an autumn leaf is my favorite vice. Part of that has to do with the explosion of color and the atmosphere of fall, but it mostly has to do with how much summer weighs on me mentally.

I was going to tell you that the changing of the season means there are a lot of opportunities for brand development and social media engagement, but it really means that there are a ton of opportunities to check in on your mental health. I was about halfway through writing this article on mental health check-ins when I realized that every season weighs on you in different ways and telling you to check in with yourself because the season is changing is bullshit.

See, I was going to share that my typical summer experience is not about days full of outside fun, it’s full of sheltering from the sweltering heat and trying not to do something that forces me to change my clothes three times a day. Summer can be incredibly busy, difficult and exhausting. It’s almost as if the heat saps all of the energy and motivation out of you but you often have to force yourself to function. It makes sense to correlate mental health with seasons, after all, according to the National Institute for Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder can actually affect you year round, unlike only in the winter as I originally thought. For me, summer is difficult, for others fall and winter is hard. Going into seasons you know are difficult for you are some of the most important markers to check in on yourself. But this season, I want to challenge to do more than just check-in.

Here are some suggestions on things to do on World Mental Health Day to give yourself the boost you need going into the colder part of the year.

Take some time to check in with yourself.

Some people love to meditate to do this and it works great for them. If you’re a bit high energy like me, (read: anxious) meditation is tough. No matter what, take a moment to be your version of still and ask yourself how you’re doing. Get a feel for your mental state so you can make some educated self-care decisions.

Do something that makes you feel good.

What’s your favorite thing to do? Doing things that make you feel good gives you a mood boost. Give yourself permission today to go do it.

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Go outside!

Ever go outside and feel the sunshine on your face and suddenly you’re completely enveloped in a sense of calm and warmth? Me too. Ever feel a brisk wind kiss your skin that makes you feel a little more alive than you did a moment before? Me too. Get outside, go get wrapped up in the fresh air and the sunshine while it’s still around for most of the day. Feel it, reinvigorate.

Move your body.

I thought about including this in the “Go outside!” category but I really don’t think it’s about that. Moving your body can mean anything – go for a walk, run, skip, cartwheel, dance. If it gets your heart rate up great, if it gets you laughing, even better.

Stand in the rain, maybe even dance.

This one’s a little random but there’s something amazing about intentionally going out in the rain. Some of my best memories are when I got caught in it. As Hillary Duff once sang, “Let the rain come down, I’m coming clean.” Dance, cry, cleanse, enjoy.

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Call a friend to catch up.

If you get energy from your friends, this is a great time to call a pal and check in. As adults it’s harder to make friends where we are and a lot of space and time gets between friendships. Take some time today to call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Learn about their life, reconnect.

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Pair up with a friend and check in with each other.

Sometimes having an accountability partner is a lot easier and more effective than doing it yourself. Grab a buddy and commit to checking in on each other.

Say no.

Not much compares to the rush of canceling plans, but take a chance to say no to plans you actually don’t want to go to.

Watch your favorite movie or show.

This one’s usually pretty easy and something that’s incredibly calming to me. Spend some time in a cozy place with your favorite movie or tv show and rest. I personally recommend The Office, but whatever makes you happy is the best.

This one’s usually pretty easy and something that’s incredibly calming to me. Spend some time in a cozy place with your favorite movie or tv show and rest. I personally recommend The Office, but whatever makes you happy is the best.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Use World Mental Health Day as your starting point but don’t let it stop there. Checking in on your mental health and taking actionable steps towards serving it is something worth learning to practice in your daily life. Does going to your office sometimes (or always) stress you out? Work from home for a day (or longer) if you have the option. Does making plans every night cause you anxiety? Let your friend know you need a mental health rain check. If it’s raining in your brain, your friend will understand why you’re canceling. If they don’t, maybe they’re not the right friend. I’m not a mental health expert or professional, so my suggestions may not work for you. However, finding the things that do work best for you and take you past simply acknowledging that you’re doing well or poorly mentally is so, so important. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the chance to breathe, heal, and rest. If that means wrapping yourself in every blanket you own to watch movies alone for a day, pour yourself a cup of comfort and get to it. If that means taking a walk with a salted caramel latte through some bright red trees, go for it. You deserve it.

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