5 Activities to Improve Your Mental Health

5 Activities to Improve Your Mental Health

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month. During June, organizations all over the world work to raise the profile of one of the most serious and surprisingly common conditions affecting mental health.

While PTSD is often associated with veterans, it can affect people from all walks of life. Currently, about 12 million Americans are living with PTSD, and that number rises annually. According to the National Center for PTSD, between 7 and 8 percent of the population will experience PTSD at some point.

 The symptoms of PTSD include:

  •         Anxiety and emotional distress
  •         Depression
  •         Flashbacks
  •         Insomnia
  •         Nightmares
  •         Social withdrawal
  •         Irritability and anger
  •         Feelings of detachment
  •         Relationship difficulties 
  •          Suicidal thoughts

While numerous treatments are available for PTSD, looking after your general mental health is one of the most important things you can do, self-care matters.

Of course, you should always seek professional advice if you or a loved one has serious mental health issues. However, the following five activities are also excellent for improving mental health.


  1. Work out in a group setting

Mens sana in corpore sano is a Latin phrase meaning “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” It goes a long way to explain the link between physical and mental health; the two are often closely related.

Exercising raises your endorphin levels, which are nature’s painkiller and feel-good hormone. Endorphins are what give you that exercise high after a good workout. Working out is also a superb stress reliever, improves sleep quality and duration, and enhances confidence and self-image.

While any workout is a good workout, exercising as part of a group can be doubly beneficial. Not only do you get the mood-boosting effects of exercise, but you will also forge links with other people, reducing social isolation. Shared suffering can also form strong bonds and friendships.

It doesn’t matter if you work out with a friend or join a squad and train with 15 other people; exercising in a group setting can improve your physical and mental health.


  1. Spend more time in nature (and away from technology)

Technology is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a double-edged sword. While things like your phone and the internet mean you have near-constant access to information, it can also be a source of stress. Doom scrolling is an everyday activity for many people, and fake news is everywhere, which can often trigger anxiety or anger.

Spending time in nature and away from technology has been shown to be hugely beneficial for mental health. Japanese people call time spent in nature shinrin-yoku or forest bathing.

Green spaces like parks, fields, woodland, and forests, and blue spaces like rivers, wetlands, beaches, and canals can have a calming, restorative effect and have long been associated with better mental and psychological health.

To get the most from time spent in nature, turn your phone off and unplug. Be mindful of your surroundings, paying attention to the sights, sounds, and smells of being outdoors.

Whatever the weather, time spent in nature and away from technology is time well spent.


  1. Join a martial arts gym

While even a gym workout or run is good for your mental health, something more engaging may be even better. Sports force you to be in the moment, concentrating your mind on what you are doing.

Martial arts are one of the most accessible yet endlessly challenging sporting activities around. There is always something new to learn, and the training can be intense but fun. And despite the combative nature of martial arts, participants are usually welcoming and supportive of beginners. Bonds forged on the mat or in the ring can last a lifetime.

Learning and practicing martial arts can help you master your emotions and control your thoughts and feelings. It’ll also improve your confidence and self-discipline.

With so many different martial arts styles to choose from, you should have no problem finding one that suits your needs and personality. From traditional Kung Fu to modern MMA, the martial arts world is as broad as it is long.


  1. Start writing  

Many men and women are reluctant to talk about their feelings. “I’m fine,” they say, when the reality is that they’re anything but. Talk therapy can help, but even then, some people don’t want to verbalize their innermost thoughts.

If you don’t want to talk about your feelings, you should try writing about them. The page doesn’t judge you but still provides an outlet for what’s on your mind.

Writing about your thoughts and feelings can help you view them from a different perspective. If nothing else, it allows you to vent and release what’s on your mind without hurting those around you.

It doesn’t matter that you’re not a skilled writer or don’t know what to write about. Just make a start and let the words come naturally. Imagine you’re having a conversation and not writing a school project!

Your writing can take many forms, from journaling to articles, letters, and poetry. You can share your words with trusted friends and relatives or keep them private. Either way, putting your thoughts on paper can be very cathartic.


  1. Try giving back

The last thing you probably feel like doing when you’re having a bad day is giving your time and energy to someone else. After all, you’ve got your own problems to deal with, right? And while that attitude is entirely understandable, going out of your way to give back could be the thing that helps you start to feel better about your current situation.

Giving back is hugely rewarding; you’ll feel good because you’re doing good. Also, it can help put things in perspective, as there are always people who are worse off than you. Giving back can give your life purpose and direction, and the beneficiaries will always appreciate your kindness and time.

Examples of giving back include:

  •         Working at an animal shelter
  •         Coaching kids’ sports
  •         Spend time with an elderly neighbor
  •         Charity/non-profit work
  •         Volunteer at your local senior living community
  •         Picking up litter in your neighborhood (try plogging)

Just a few hours a week can have a massive impact on your local community and benefit your mental health – talk about a win-win!


5 Activities to Improve Your Mental Health – Closing Thoughts

Unlike an illness or physical injury, mental health issues are often hidden and go unnoticed, even by the person most affected – you. There is also a stigma attached to mental health, and many people are uncomfortable admitting or talking about it.

That’s surprising, given how so much of the population is affected by mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Thankfully, help and treatment are widely available, and there are several things you can do to improve your mental health. Self-help strategies like spending time in nature, group workouts, and writing are all proven to boost mental health.

So, don’t neglect your mental health; give it the attention it deserves and get help if you need it. You are not alone.