10 Ways to Have Fun and Boost Your mental Wellness

Mental health among all Americans has taken a turn for the worse in the past year. A contentious presidential election, the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and more have all conspired to decrease overall mental wellness. However, there are some simple, low-cost and effective ways to give yourself a mental health boost this winter. Use one or more of these tips to feel better today.

1. Make Something

Do something that's hands-on, such as baking a batch of cookies. Dig out your arts and craft supplies. Sewing, drawing, painting, cross stitching, candle making, weaving, pottery, knitting, crocheting and beading are all creative activities that can get you into a zone of happiness. At the end of a crafting session, you'll end up with a finished item for yourself or to give to a special someone.

2. Visit a Museum

Even though a lot of museums in the USA and around the world are closed to in-person visitors, you can still take an online tour. Many of these cultural institutions are doing free online tours. Even if you have to pay a small fee, consider it as a contribution to the financial viability of these essential organizations. Coordinate with your friends to take a tour of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, the Louvre or any other museum on your must-see list.

3. Tune in to a Virtual Concert

Now might not be a time when you can go to a stadium and attend an in-person concert, but you could tune into an online performance. Some orchestras are doing low-cost or free concerts. Other artists are offering online concerts for a fee. Check your preferred artist or ticket venue to see which ones might appeal to your musical tastes.

4. Find a New Place for Outdoor Exercise

If you're not comfortable with going to the gym, look for a new place where you can engage in outdoor exercise. Metropolitan and state parks have their trails open. These places will require social distancing and mask use, but you can get in a good hike, walk or run. Many of these places have dog trails, too. A lot of trails are handicap-accessible and stroller-friendly to accommodate your family's situation.

5. Create a Playlist for How You Want to Feel

Perhaps you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or you have been anxious as a result of all the changes and stress in your life. Spend some time making a playlist for how you want to feel. Songs like "Happy" by Pharell Williams or "Let's Dance" by David Bowie may be just what you need to get your body moving and your spirit lifted. Keep in mind that vigorous exercise, such as dancing, triggers your brain to release endorphins. These chemicals naturally give your mood a boost.

6. Practice Mindfulness

Take one or two minutes a few times a day to practice mindfulness. After brewing your coffee or tea, hold the cup, and close your eyes. Listen to the cup. Does it bubble or make any sounds? Feel the cup. Is it warm? Do you sense the steam on your skin? Smell the aroma. Is it fruity, earthy, spicy or rich? Finally, taste the drink. Is it warm, sweet, light or flavorful? Do this with different things at different times. You could do it while petting your dog, eating a bowl of soup or taking a shower.

7. Help Someone

Even if you don't have money or a lot of time, helping someone could make you feel better. That pile of clothes that no longer fits could help someone who needs an outfit for a job interview or clothing for their growing child. The dishes you don't use anymore could help a person starting a new life.

8. Take a Night Off

One night a week, forget about making a fancy dinner. Get take-out, delegate the cooking or microwave a frozen dinner. Forget about the "should-do" and "need-to" thoughts in your head.

9. Watch or Read Something Funny

Humor is great at dissolving stress. Queue up an episode of Saturday Night Live. Read a book of jokes. Watch a silly video.

10. Play a Game

When was the last time you played a great game or worked a puzzle? Whether you play a game alone, in person with friends or virtually, it will give your brain something else to focus on for a while.

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