Healthy life, healthy mind
Sadly, the discussion on mental health seems always to focus too much on what not to do. Don’t drink too much. Don’t go on social media. Don’t engage in toxic relationships. And I too am guilty of dwelling too much on the negative.
But it’s summer 2022. The days are long, warm, the sun is shining, and the pandemic is seemingly an adversity of the past, for now. Life is looking up, and we should embrace the happier times now that the world is alive again. So, if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to boost your physical and mental health, try something new, have some fun, and get the most out of life while you can, this post could be for you.
Seriously. It’s great for you, and good fun.
For those who want to keep fit but dread going running and can’t face the gym, dancing could be the answer. It is cardiovascular exercise, which means it is good for your heart, overall fitness, and good for building muscles.
While we were all kept hidden away at home during lockdown, not allowed to meet people, many of us struggled with the lack of social interaction. Dancing is a great way to meet people, and be around others, with a fun activity to focus on.
Learning and memorising a dance routine is a great mental activity, as it requires focus and attention. For those who want to do brain puzzles, but don’t want to sit in their living room with a crossword, try going to a dance class and challenge yourself to remember all the steps. It can even help protect against dementia. (1)
It is also chance to listen to and discover new music. If ballet requires too much technique and hip hop isn’t really your vibe, how about salsa, or folk dance? It is bound to put a smile on your face.
This is the last sport based one, I promise. This wonderful activity is so often neglected.
Not only does it feel invigorating, splashing through the water and feeling the cool waves flowing over your body, swimming is a fantastic activity for a time out, an escape. There is no chance of getting side tracked by your phone beeping at you while you’re powering through the water.
Swimming is one of the few sports which engages almost all the muscle groups, so after a good swim, you can be proud that you completed a full body workout.
Also, it’s summertime, which means we might see a bit of sun, even in the UK! Why not invite some friends to an open-air pool and make a day of it?
This might sound strange, and you may have no idea what it is, but dreams can become fascinating, after you get started with this practice. Lucid dreaming is dreaming, during which the dreamer is actively aware they are having a dream, meaning that they can choreograph the dream towards a scenario that interests them.
The practice of lucid dreaming requires the dreamer to write down their dreams when they awake in the morning. This alone can be a captivating ritual. Through doing this, the dreamer will become more in touch with their subconscious and can learn a lot about what is going on in their mind, through the messages presented to them in their dreams.
Moreover, if and when the dreamer is successful in having a lucid dream, they are likely to experience an uplifting and euphoric feeling, during which they can call out questions and concerns to their dream and its characters, to seek guidance on their life where they feel they may need it. Additionally, they can have fun with it, and travel to places they want to go, meet people they want to meet… the sky’s the limit.
Perhaps the most important aspect here, however, is the excitement one feels when starting a new hobby, and one such as lucid dreaming encourages mindfulness, a great sleep routine, and offers a great online community with which to connect. Also, as hobbies go, you can’t find one cheaper than dreaming.
The world has seen upsetting and difficult times lately. You may feel helpless and wish you could do something to make a change. While no one can solve the desperation we read about in the news, every individual has an opportunity to do their bit, and potentially make a real difference.
Could you volunteer to help the influx of Ukrainian refugees? Perhaps they need supplies, support finding accommodation, welcome teams.
Could you do some shifts at your local charity shop, which is currently struggling to find staff?
Once you identify what causes you care most for, and what skills or time you have to offer, you can find a way to make a difference. Selfless acts of volunteering are sure to leave you feeling great about yourself. Volunteering has been shown to prevent feelings of isolation, reduce stress, and increase confidence. (2)
This is, sadly, something people seem to be doing less and less these days. The quick fix of social media offers an easy alternative to the concentration and time required to delve into a complete fiction or nonfiction work. But the rewards are slim in comparison. Not only does reading improve overall intelligence and widen vocabulary, but it can also serve to relieve stress, by distracting the mind from the pressures of the day. Equally, it can help enhance imagination. This is important for people that often resort merely to watching TV (myself included) and seldom have the chance to build an imaginary world in their mind, solely from the description written on the page. (3)
I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for fantastic things to do to keep your mind and body healthy. While they may seem simple, or obvious, or even just a reminder of the small joys you used to love but maybe left behind, it is my opinion that they are all too often forgotten in a world side-tracked by overreliance on social media. Sometimes, it’s the little things in that can make us smile.
1. Uplifter Inc. 2021. Top 9 Benefits of Dance | How Dancing Improves Well-being. [online] Available at: <https://www.uplifterinc.com/benefits-of-dance> [Accessed 16 June 2022].
2. AbleTo. n.d. 7 Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering - AbleTo - Behavioral Health Care. [online] Available at: <https://www.ableto.com/resources/mental-health-benefits-of-volunteering/#:~:text=%20Here%20are%207%20Mental%20Health%20Benefits%20of,coupled%20with...%205%20Makes%20You%20Happy5%20More%20> [Accessed 16 June 2022].
3. Temsen, R., n.d. The importance of reading books. [online] Available at: <https://www.selfdevelopmentsecrets.com/benefits-importance-reading-books/> [Accessed 16 June 2022].