Everyone feels anxious and sad at some point in their lives — some people experience those feelings more often than others, though. According to Mental Health America, 19.86% or 50 million Americans have a mental illness — 4.91% are severe cases. 
Although seeking a therapist and proper treatment is always recommended, you can find your smile again in several ways. Here are eight creative techniques to try to boost your mental health.

Get Crafty

When your mental health is on a downward spiral, paint, color or scrapbook the blues away. 
Therapists have long turned to visual art as a helpful mindfulness intervention in cognitive behavioral therapy. Studies also indicate it can aid patients in coping with extreme anxiety disorder, heart disease and those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
Even viewing paintings affects your mental health. Researchers in England found similarities between the brain activity of commonly pleasurable stimuli — food, sex and addictive substances — and looking at artwork. 

Be Active

Everyone knows that exercise releases endorphins — what experts refer to as the happiness hormone. However, you can do much more than hit the gym or walk to enhance your mental health, such as the following:
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Spending as much time as possible doing outdoor activities will benefit your mental health the most. Additionally, spending 120 minutes in nature weekly balances your hormones, lowers your blood pressure and lifts your mood.

Book a Trip to the Tropics

Work stress and responsibilities at home can make you feel overwhelmed. If that’s the case, you deserve to get away and clear your mind. 
A follow-up study of travelers in psychiatric distress discovered that 71% of respondents noted improvements in their mental and emotional well-being after a two-week tropical getaway. Moreover, the study also suggested that trips taken after November were more effective than vacations taken before the change of season.
Booking a warm and sunny vacation this upcoming fall and winter might be just what the doctor ordered to fight off negative emotions.

Go Off the Grid

Whether you travel far or stay close to home, consider going off the grid to care for your mental well-being. A survey by Reviews.org found that 70% of people check their phones within five minutes of receiving a notification, while 47% consider themselves addicted to their devices.
However, unplugging is the same as setting boundaries and prioritizing self-care. If your co-workers and friends can’t reach you about their problems, it allows you more time to work on yours.

Start a Gratitude Journal

Only some people have time to keep a journal to vent. Instead, you might consider writing down one or two things you’re grateful for daily.
Awareness of all the good things in your life decreases negative thoughts and feelings — most people call this kind of awareness “gratitude.”
Gratitude interventions help you positively process life events and over-stimulation — an excellent strategy for highly sensitive people and those with depression. It also improves self-compassion and reduces self-criticism.

Give Back to Others

Altruism is an innate trait in most people, and research has shown that giving back to others is associated with happiness. Small acts of kindness go a long way, even if you buy someone’s coffee in the drive-thru line or pay a stranger’s parking meter.
Those with mental health struggles also benefit from volunteering. For example, the employment rate is 10% to 20% for people with serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, meaning they’re more likely to be socially excluded and at risk.
These individuals may use volunteer work to prepare for entering the workforce or determine their professional interests. It can also boost their confidence in their abilities as they progress toward recovery.

Create a Mandala

You already know that art significantly impacts positive mental health — but so does drawing mandalas. During the pandemic, researchers found that only 30 minutes of coloring a mandala daily reduced anxiety in COVID-19 patients at the hospital. 
Mandalas maintain essential meaning for many people — for one thing, it encourages them to incorporate their emotions and thoughts into their creation. Traditionally, the circular boundaries of mandalas also represent protection and support of a person’s mindset. Therefore, drawing within that circle is healing for the individual.

Watch a Sunrise or Sunset

When was the last time you woke up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise? Maybe it’s been a while since you sat in a chair and watched it dip below the horizon.
Researchers from the University of Exeter in England recently showed 2,500 participants nature images, examining their awe-like reaction to pictures of sunrises and sunsets. The participants even indicated a willingness to pay 10 cents more to see the sunrise in person compared to a blue sky — or about 9% higher than blue sky conditions and 41% higher than stormy conditions.
The next time you forget there’s still beauty in the world, search for a sunrise or sunset to lift your mood.

Fill Your Self-Care Box With Creative Mental Health Strategies

You have endless creative strategies you can try when your mental health needs a boost. Keep these techniques in your back pocket for the next time you need a different approach to sweeping the blues away. 


Ava Roman