As October quickly approaches, many of us have pumpkin carving, Halloween costumes, and scary movies on the brain. But in addition to the spooky revelry, there’s another important day in October that we should all be celebrating: World Mental Health Day.
Observed on October 10 each year, World Mental Health Day was created almost 30 years ago by the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) to bring attention to the often stigmatized topic of mental health.
Aside from raising awareness and fighting stigma, World Mental Health Day is simply a wonderful opportunity for everyone to prioritize their own self-care and do things that boost their mental well-being. In our hectic lives, it’s easy to forget to take time for ourselves. World Mental Health Day serves as a much-needed reminder that we all deserve a little rest and relaxation.
Ready to join in on the festivities this year? Whether it’s going on nature walks, treating yourself to a spa day, or upping your nightly snooze with a weighted eye mask, there are plenty of easy ways to celebrate World Mental Health Day. Keep reading for some of our favorite ideas on how to highlight mental health on this special day in October and year-round.
Go Off the Grid
From our constantly refreshed news feeds to our smartphone notifications, it’s easy to feel like we’re always “on” in our hyper-connected world. Why not disconnect from social media and take some time for yourself? Load up the car or RV hit the open road and spend a weekend with your toes in the sand and your nose in a good book.
Take a Yoga Class
There are lots of reasons to unroll a yoga mat and make your way into a downward dog. On top of the standard physical benefits of regular exercise, yoga is chock-full of mental health benefits, including stress relief, better mental clarity, and improved self-confidence. To get started, consider taking a yoga class or getting your fix at home with follow-along yoga videos on YouTube.
Prioritize Your Sleep
Anyone who has ever suffered a poor night’s rest knows that insufficient sleep can take a heavy toll on our mental health. In fact, research shows that your mental and physical health can suffer after only three consecutive nights of poor sleep. To enjoy better sleep, start building a better nighttime routine. Begin winding down an hour before bedtime by making a cup of chamomile tea, wrapping yourself in a cozy weighted blanket, and practicing mindfulness before bed. Stick to your nightly ritual and you’re bound to improve your sleep quality and, subsequently, your mood.
Donate to a Good Cause
If you’re already a pro at self-care (good for you!), consider donating to mental health organizations such as National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Child Mind Institute, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. These charities and countless others help raise awareness for mental health issues and offer assistance to those impacted by mental illness.
Check Up on Your Friends
It’s so important to check up on your friends, especially the ones you might describe as being “strong” or “always happy.” The truth is, no one can be strong and happy 100 percent of the time.
There can be a lot of sadness or despair hiding behind a cheerful or stoic exterior, which is why it’s essential to check up on all of your friends and not just the ones who outwardly show their emotions. So, if you haven’t heard from a friend in a while, consider shooting them a quick text or giving them a call. Even if they don’t explicitly say how much they appreciate your reaching out, it could mean more to them than you’ll ever know.
Try a New Healthy Recipe
Celebrate World Mental Health Day this year by nourishing your body with a yummy meal full of mood-boosting vitamins and minerals. Find healthier alternatives to your all-time favorite foods — like cauliflower crust pizza, zucchini noodles (“zoodles”), or air-fried chicken — and whip something up in your kitchen.
If you don’t have the time or patience to cook a healthy meal, use mobile apps like HealthyOut to help you find and order nutritious meals from restaurants near you. For added mental health benefits, consider inviting a friend or family member along on your healthy eating adventure.
Spend Time with a Furry Friend
Research shows that owning a pet can go a long way in boosting our mental health and overall well-being. Consider spending the day lounging on the couch with your four-legged friend and watching your favorite television series or movies. If your furry friend enjoys being active, take them for a hike in nature or go to the dog park and enjoy some social time with your fellow canine-lovers.
Establish a Relationship with a Therapist
You don’t need to have a mental illness or be going through a major crisis to reap the benefits of seeing a therapist. Psychotherapy can help you uncover important insights into your mind that can benefit virtually every aspect of your life. For instance, therapy can teach you how to love yourself, which is fundamental to building healthy relationships. Check out Psychology Today’s easy-to-use directory of therapists, psychologists, and counselors in your local area to find a therapist.
Become an Advocate for Mental Health
Another fantastic way to celebrate World Mental Health Day is by being a champion for mental health. You can be an advocate by simply talking about mental health issues on social media and in person. If you’re not comfortable sharing your personal story, there are plenty of other ways to be an advocate.
For instance, you can volunteer for a mental health organization and write to your representatives in support of mental health legislation. You can also correct those who use stigmatizing language (i.e., calling someone “psycho” or describing someone who stays organized as being “OCD”).
There is no wrong way to celebrate World Mental Health Day. As long as you’re not working your tail off and putting everyone else’s needs above your own, how you choose to spend the day is up to you. But hopefully, these ideas will encourage you to join in the celebrations and raise awareness for this important cause.