To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month this May, AASP invites you to join our 31-Day Mental Health Challenge: a series of daily tasks to bring mental health to the forefront of your mind and allow you to take a moment for restorative self-care.
Throughout the month of May, AASP will challenge you with a new daily activity and encourages you to share your journey with the AASP community using the challenge hashtag: #AASPChallenge2023
Be sure to follow AASP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for daily challenge reminders and tips!
1. Start a journal.
Get in touch with your emotions and take a few minutes each day to write about what’s on your mind. Use journaling as an opportunity to track your emotions, set short- and long-term goals, or as an outlet to express frustrations.
2. Plan ahead.
Reduce stress in the mornings by prepping your meals and picking your outfits the night before. It’ll save you time so that you can eat a hearty breakfast, spend time journaling, or focus on mentally preparing for the day’s activities.
3. Go off the grid.
Take a day to disconnect from emails, text messages, and other social media alerts. Use this time to be present with friends or family, or as an opportunity to focus on yourself.
4. Get creative.
Tap into your creative side and write a poem, pick up a paintbrush, or experiment with a new recipe. Try out new creative activities and see what is the best creative outlet for you.
5. Go outside.
Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or plan a hike with friends. Take a moment to appreciate nature and recognize how the outdoors make you feel, both physically and mentally.
6. Do something you love.
Make time in your schedule to do an activity that brings you joy—whether that’s relaxing in the sun, rollerskating in the park, or spending time with your friends or family.
7. Practice Gratitude.
When you’re feeling stressed or angry, try shifting your emotions by writing down three to five things that make you happy or that you’re grateful for.
8. Get some sun.
Take at least 15 minutes to get outside and don’t forget to apply sunscreen beforehand. Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts believe can elevate mood.
9. Tap into your inner circle.
Make time with friends and family doing something you will enjoy together. For warmer weather, we suggest a cookout, a hike, a stroll through the park. On rainy days, consider playing board games or try trivia. People are 12x more likely to feel happy on days that they spend 6-7 hours with friends and family.
10. Stock up on omega-3s.
Try to incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Among their many benefits, omega-3s are linked to decreased rates of depression. Omega-3s can be found in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
11. Revel in the good.
When you have a positive experience, try to stay with it and savor the good vibes. As they say, “neurons that fire together, wire together,” so use this opportunity to integrate these happy feeling states into your body and mind.
12. Revitalize your routine with relaxation practice.
Consider incorporating yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and breathwork to reduce overall stress levels.
13. Catch some Z’s.
Sleep helps refresh and rejuvenate both the body and mind. To prioritize sleep, try to limit digital distractions like TV, phone, computers, and tablets before bedtime. Check out these tips to help you sleep better, and try going to bed 30 minutes—or even an hour—early tonight!
Quick Tips for Healthy Sleep Habits
14. Break up the monotony.
Add a little excitement to your routine by planning your next day trip, weekend getaway, or evening activity with friends or family. This will help distract yourself from daily stressors and provide you with something to look forward to!
15. Dare to dance.
Dancing is known to reduce stress and anxiety by releasing endorphins and other positive hormones into your system. Go ahead; bust a move!
16. Take a social media hiatus.
This is your sign to put down the phone and step away from the screen. Add an electronics free-time to your daily routine and take time to unplug and unwind from feelings of FOMO that can be stirred up by social posts.
17. Clean up and declutter.
When your work area or home is disorganized or cluttered, it can become a distraction and/or add to your anxiety and stress levels. Try cleaning and decluttering your space—the physical act of cleaning on top of the end result of a cleaner space may help improve productivity and focus, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.
18. Book a therapy appointment.
If you’ve been putting off finding a new therapist or taking the next steps to book an appointment, here is your sign! Talking about your feelings and getting professional help is a great way to improve your mental health.
19. Try something new.
Sometimes you just need to get out of a rut. Pick up a new hobby, eat a type of food you have never had before, or even take a different route to work. Trying new things gives us a hit of dopamine (the feel good chemical) and makes us feel rewarded.
20. Make a to-do list.
Take some of the stress off by making a list of all the action-items you need to accomplish. Once completed, you’ll be able to enjoy the satisfaction of crossing them off your list!
21. Practice saying “no.”
Sometimes, we agree to things because we don’t know what we want. Other times, we simply need to find the courage to speak up. Either way, here’s your permission slip to start thinking about when it’s best for you to decline.
22.Relax in a warm bath.
Studies show that hot water improves both physical and emotional aspects of life. Try adding some epsom salts for an added boost of relaxation.
23. Be intentional about practicing self-care.
Spend an evening caring for your mind and body – whether that’s performing your favorite skincare routine, stretching sore muscles, reading a new book, or getting a couple extra hours of sleep.
5 Self-Care Practices for Every Area of Your Life
24. Unwind while reading a book or magazine.
Sit back, relax, and stimulate your mind with a new book or your favorite magazine!
25. Connect with friends and family members.
It’s important to stay connected with the people who support and care about you. Give a friend a call, let them know you’re thinking of them in a text message, or just sit down and chat with a loved one at home.
26. Show that smile.
Smiling can help lower your heart rate and calm you down. Plus, it’ll give you a boost of confidence to take on the day! You can even try power poses in the mirror to further influence your mood.
27. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
Even 30 minutes of exercise per day can help boost your mood and overall mental health. Exercise can help improve mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood, and improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Today, focus on doing a physical activity that you actually enjoy.
How to Choose the Right Workout Based on Your Mood—Whether You’re Sad, Tense, or Low on Energy
28. Play with a pet.
Interacting with pets has been shown to decrease levels of stress hormones, reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood. Take your dog for a walk, watch your cat chase a toy, or teach your pet a new trick!
29. Take a break.
Feeling overwhelmed today? Distract yourself from feelings of anxiety and stress by setting aside a few minutes to relax and unwind. Practice deep breathing exercises, go for a quick walk, or listen to calming music.
30. Stay hydrated.
There are several physical and mental benefits of staying hydrated—so be sure you’re drinking enough water! Learn more below about how much water you should drink each day.
Hydration Calculator: How Much Water Do You Need to Drink a Day?
31. Talk about mental health – and keep the conversation going!
Congratulations on completing AASP’s 31-Day Mental Wellness Challenge! But, May isn’t the only time you should be thinking about your mental health and ways to improve it. Learn to talk openly about your mental wellness – this can increase compassion and empathy for yourself and others while helping to defeat the stigma associated with mental illness.
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