What do you to improve your mental health? Like we are encouraged to have five types of vegetables and fruit every day, what are your five go to activities to maintain or improve your mental health?

Like we are encouraged to have 5 fruit and veg a day, what are your five go-to activities to maintain or improve your #mentalhealth? Read more here #5aday #FiveADayForMentalHealth Click To Tweet

Our mental health is being tested right now

What with everything going on in the world – all the change you’ve had to deal with, the unknowns, the uncertainty, the loss of your normal life which I wrote about here – your mental health is being tested and you may be feeling the strain. That is a normal response.

So focusing on improving your mental health is important

Like we have a fridge, freezer and cupboards for our food, do you have a mental health cupboard for all the activities that can improve your mental health? Is that cupboard well stocked or is it a bit bare?

A woman is in her kitchen. She has opened her mental health cupboard and there are only a few items in it. A book on cooking, some yarn for knitting and crochet and a bottle of something to drink. She is saying, "My mental health cupboard is looking rather bare." The caption reads: How well stocked is your mental health cupboard? Are you giving yourself five-a-day to improve your mental health?

Time to do a stock take of your mental health cupboard

If your cupboard is well stocked, a stock take will remind you of what is there that you can use.

If you haven’t tended to this cupboard recently, now’s the time to open it, see what’s there and add to it.

And if you don’t have a mental health cupboard, now’s the time to create one. A shelf will also do.

What five-a-day can be in your mental health cupboard?

Here’s a not exhaustive list of activities that can be in your mental health cupboard. You can choose your five-a-day to nourish and improve your mental health from here.

  • Letting yourself feel sad/upset/confused etc when you feel that rather than suppressing it (remember, you don’t have to unpack and live here)
  • Noticing and acknowledging how you feel – the good, the not-so-good and the downright ugly
  • Reaching out for support – coaching, therapy, peer support, good friend, cuddle your pet
  • 5 minutes practicing mindfulness – paying attention to what you’re doing, feeling, thinking and/or your breath without judgement
  • Setting an intention for your day – What you will give to your day to make it good enough for you
  • Reminding yourself that you are enough as you are right now
  • Patting yourself on the back when you feel you’ve done well at something
  • Showing yourself compassion when you notice you’re beating yourself up or something doesn’t go to plan
  • Noting three things that went well or ok enough in your day
  • Noting what you’re thankful for
  • Listening to birdsong
  • Gardening
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Walking/rolling in nature
  • Exercise
  • Running/ Sport
  • Colouring
  • Painting
  • Knitting, crochet, embroidery, needlepoint
  • Drawing
  • Singing
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Listening to music
  • Photography
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Writing stories, poetry, articles, blogging
  • Cooking a nice meal
  • Baking
  • Sewing
  • Carpentry
  • Developing ways to help, nurture and reassure yourself
  • Spending time going after something you really want for yourself whatever this may be – new job/career, writing a book, spending more time with your children, a qualification, developing a new hobby, returning to an old hobby, developing a mindfulness practice, whatever
  • Doing something kind for someone/ helping others
  • Spending time with pets
  • Having your favourite tea/coffee

There's a woman in her kitchen stocking her mental health cupboard. It is looking much more full. The woman is saying, "My mental health cupboard is looking more full. I've got choices!" There are three bags on the counter she has been unpacking: mental health, soul health and heart health. Nearby is a bowl of fruit and above it a sign hangs on the wall which says 'Remember your 5-a-day'. This is alluding to the fact that just as we eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day for our physical health, we also need to remember to take five-a-day for our heart, mind and soul. The caption of the picture reads: Make sure your mental health cupboard is stocked full.

Your five-a-day can contain the mundane tasks too

Doing the everyday mundane tasks in life like making your bed, tidying, paying bills, grocery shopping, etc. Many people think this isn’t part of self-care but actually they are. They help to keep your life going.

I start my day with making my bed. It’s a nice and easy win and looking at a tidy bed makes me smile.

The everyday mundane tasks relating to you are also important like brushing your teeth, getting dressed even if it’s slobby lounge wear, etc. These small tasks are an easy way to show yourself that you matter.

Just make sure that your five-a-day isn’t consumed by the mundane tasks. There is a case for making room for other activities which nourish you on a heart and soul level and help you stay resilient.

Sometimes though this can be hard

If you have children who need to be home schooled, fed, played with, washed, cuddled, etc. Or you’re caring for someone who has many needs. Sometimes the mundane tasks occupy your entire day. And at the end you don’t have much energy left over for yourself.

That’s a tough place to be day after day. Then it’s about only focusing on the most essential mundane tasks. And catching any (and all) short periods of quiet and calm time to do something for yourself.

The everyday mundane tasks relating to you are important like brushing your teeth, getting dressed even if it’s just slobby lounge wear, etc. These small tasks are an easy way to show yourself that you matter. #5aday… Click To Tweet

And that is what this is all about – demonstrating to yourself that you matter

Taking conscious action to nourish and improve your mental health is just as important as the action you take to nourish your physical body. It is you demonstrating to yourself that all of you matters.

So what will your five-a-day today be?

An original inspirational quote by Return to Wellness: "What will your five-a-day be today to nourish your health, mind and soul?" The point is just as we ensure we eat five portions of fruit and vegetables for our physical health, what five things can you do everyday to improve your mental health?

What’s it like for you?

What are your go-to five-a-day to nourish and improve your mental health? What’s in your mental health cupboard that isn’t in the list above? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

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