Feeling overwhelmed and in need of some time-out? An escape to a beautiful place or a break from everyday demands is out of the question. While a change of scenery is unlikely, a change of mental pace isn’t impossible and a few simple mindful tweaks will give you the mental health day you deserve.
Finding a quiet corner of your home, making time for a comforting catch-up with a close friend and even scheduling a morning hike can do wonders to help refresh your mindset. Here are a few tricks to bring some calm to your life – even if you’ve used up all your leave…
8 ways to take a mental health day without putting in leave:
Habits tend to occur unconsciously – we repeat them without thought because it’s what we’ve always done. Take a few minutes to think about your existing habits and how they affect your physical and mental health. Give yourself credit for the good ones and then list some new habits that could replace the others.
Bring in daylight
Daylight stimulates our body’s production of serotonin, known as the ‘happy hormone’. ‘Studies show that getting light early in the morning helps set your body clock so you will be ready for sleep 16-18 hours later,’ explains Sammy Margo, author of The Good Sleep Guide (Ebury Press). Rest is crucial. ‘The better the quality of your sleep, the better your mood will be.’
Give a hug
Studies found that hugging can lower your risk of heart disease, boost your immune system and combat stress and depression. It helps to generate feel-good chemicals and hormones, such as oxytocin, which produces happy feelings.
US research shows that the act of forgiving reduces anger, hostility, depression and anxiety. So write a letter of forgiveness to someone you’ve had bad feelings towards – you don’t even have to send it. Seeing your feelings in words can help with the process of letting go.
Time alone allows you to recharge and set personal goals, away from the influence of others. Give yourself at least half an hour of alone time a day to do whatever you feel like – read a book or try a new hobby.
Perform a good deed
It not only instantly boosts your mood, but also leads to long-lasting happiness. Why? Acts of kindness make us feel optimistic. UK studies show that good deeds have more impact on your well-being if you do a variety of things. So buy someone a coffee today and surprise a friend with a small gift tomorrow.
Try flexing your shoulders
This stretch can reduce muscle tension. Stand a little away from a wall. Place your hands on it and walk your feet away until your arms and back are straight. Press your armpits towards the floor to feel a contraction in your shoulders. Release; repeat.
Hit the dance floor
At last, there’s a scientific reason to ditch the treadmill for a night out on the dance floor. In fact, dancing releases a lot more endorphins than any other form of exercise. So, whether you opt for a Zumba class or a trip to a nightclub, it’s time to burn up the dance floor!
And if you don’t want to leave home, try this Cardio Latin dance tutorial instead: