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5 Fun Ways To Improve Your Mental Health

5 Fun Ways To Improve Your Mental Health

Too many of us are focused on our physical health without paying much attention to our mental health until it’s too late. Have you found yourself on the breaking point due to stress or sleep deprivation, suffering from depression or anxiety? The traditional answer may be drugs or psychological therapy, but believe it or not, there are fun and inexpensive ways to reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and build a stronger mental foundation.

In this article we’ll give you ideas for games and activities appropriate for any age group or physical ability. Much like your physical health, strong mental health comes from regular maintenance, so finding plenty of time on your schedule for activities like these is essential.

Coloring Books For The Adults

Adult coloring books are flying off the shelves right now, and for good reason, as more of us find ourselves overworked and overstimulated every day. For comfort we seek something nostalgic, rewarding, and most of all, unplugged. Nothing fits the bill better than patiently and precisely coloring between the lines of beautiful images.

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This activity is particularly helpful because it requires a very high focus without being mentally intensive. Coloring allows you to take your mind off negative things, and shift your thoughts instead to pleasant colors and flowing shapes. Better yet, it requires very little intrinsic artistic ability.

Sudoku – The Brain Game

We all know someone who’s always got an open Sudoku book and a pencil (or a pen, if they’re serious!) out on the table during lunch. Have you ever wondered what could make a game so addictive? Games like Sudoku, which take some time to learn and mental acuity to succeed with, have been shown over and over again to stimulate synapses, improve memory, and reduces stress.

Sudoku is technically just a logic game, and there are plenty other options to choose from. Crosswords, mastermind, and even falling block video games are all examples of logic games which encourage abstract thinking to solve problems.

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Bingo – The Game of Luck

Bingo may have a bad reputation with some people as being a boring, “old-people” game, but nothing could be further from the truth. Bingo is relaxing, engaging, and rewarding – the perfect recipe for stress relief.

One of the best approaches to reducing negative mental stress is to focus your attention elsewhere. When there’s a personal or professional problem, it’s often more helpful to engage in something else, letting the stressful thought process “rest” just like you would a rest muscle group while working out.

Bingo meets this requirement with the added benefit of socialization, a factor that keeps Bingo halls full around the world. Whether you play online or in real life, making friends and socializing is a big part of what makes Bingo so fun and rewarding.

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Massage For The Good Feel

Massages feel great, but they’re also good for our mental health as well. Studies have shown that massage can decrease feelings of anxiety and stress, and can restore your body after the effects of stress.

Additionally, massage can help you overcome troubled sleep and even insomnia. Even those with chronic conditions like fibromyalgia, heart disease, and cerebral palsy have found solace in massage to help them sleep. Sleep deprivation can be the cause of both mental and physical problems, so getting enough is essential to finding balance in your life.

Aromatherapy – The Good Smell

Believe it or not, something as simple as a pleasant odor can reduce stresses and improves one’s ability to sleep. It may sound like new age quackery at first, but science supports the fact that certain scents can alter our mood, for better and worse.

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The best scents to use when trying to reduce stress (perhaps in addition to one of the other activities on this list) are: ylang ylang, sandalwood, lavender, chamomile, and frankincense.

Time to relax!

Did any of the activities on this list strike your fancy? Everyone should have something to look forward to in their day, whether it’s sitting down with a coloring book or relaxing with friends at the Bingo hall. Your body and mind will thank you.

Featured photo credit: Rock Climbing Can Boost Your Mental Health via lifehack.org

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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