Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month?
Spring is often known for flowers blooming, new beginnings, and a busy IEP season! What are some things you can do this spring to help with the balance of managing stress with the balance of managing your fundamental needs? Certainly, it can be easy to get caught up in our work, especially at its busiest season, but current research shows that taking at least 20-30 minutes each day to explore personal interests and hobbies is necessary for a well-balanced life.
Imagine yourself doing what you love with passion and now visualize yourself doing just that but with an increased sense of vigor and purpose after reigniting your drive to explore your loves, interests, and hobbies outside of work. It is now believed that a more purposeful life centered around one type of physically and/or mentally engaging activity that promotes a way to strive for continued growth is ideal for optimal health.
So, what are some hobbies and/or activities I could consider to support my personal growth and/or mental health?
Well, first things first, you are going to want to take inventory of some things from your recent or not-so-recent past to get in touch with some of the passions that have been shelved, waiting to get picked up to try once again or maybe for the first time ever. This may include the following categories and suggested activities. Feel free to add to the list!
Creating: When creating something from nothing, like sewing, painting, journaling, scrapbooking, music, drawing, or writing a story, or even creating a live floral moss frame, it is important to understand that creativity springs up from our own original thoughts or sometimes even a prescribed pattern we intend to follow. There is room and space here to embellish and mold into your own masterpiece.
Gardening: Take care of plants, plant your own in a sanctuary or garden, and even provide for wildlife by providing food, water, and shelter for local species of butterflies and birds. In this way, consider creating and decorating your own birdhouse to hang on a nearby tree or make a shelter for butterflies. Don’t have a gardening space near your own home? No problem! Consider donating these types of homes to your local wildlife shelter or refuge or to a family member, friend, or neighbor who can display it.
Cooking: Whether you take a cooking class like Sur La Table offers or want to get creative in your own kitchen, consider ingredients you haven’t used before or make something from a recipe you’ve been eager to try.
Reading: Spark your imagination and intellect by picking up a book you’ve been longing to read for fun, inspiration, or a topic you’ve been wanting to learn more about. Don’t forget to grab a cup of a hot tea or coffee to enjoy while lounging in your favorite seat, preferably outdoors, in a comfortable spot.
Traveling: Explore a national park. Guess what? They’re low-cost and relatively easy to get to. If a national park isn’t possible, then walk, bike, or drive to a local park or arboretum to enjoy the peaceful routine of nature’s divine elements.
Why are these suggestions so simplistic?
It is a proven fact that not engaging in screen time actually enhances our mental health and provides us the necessary opportunity to unplug from the noise of our smartphones, laptops, and constant notifications and emails. Instead of turning on your screen and as previously mentioned, consider taking a walk in nature to inspect the detail of the various blossoms, watch animals interacting with their natural environments while on a bike ride and observe the actions of others in a park or other natural setting as it may inspire you to try something new, such as running or joining a photography club.
Author: Laurie Kauzlaric, M.Ed., M.S., CCC-SLP/L
Illustrations by Peter Shih, B.F.A., Digital Art