Today I thought I would share some coping strategies that have helped me to calm down my busy mind in the past. There are so many ways to take care of yourself, and what works for one person might not work for another. I encourage you to make your own list of activities that can calm your mind — it’s important that we take care of ourselves during the hectic convergence of the pandemic and the return to classes!
One of my favourite hobbies is completing jigsaw puzzles. My roommate and I have been completing puzzles during this pandemic, since we are stuck at home for long periods of time. Jigsaw puzzles can calm your mind because they allow you to be mindful and focus on the present moment. I personally find them to be a relaxing activity, although I sometimes get frustrated when I can’t find the right pieces!
One thing that I like to do is write down a list of things I am grateful for. Practicing gratitude is good for your mental health, and it can help you reflect on the good things in your life. I’m currently grateful for cute animals, heated blankets, coffee with almond milk, the clients I work with, Netflix and my partner. What are you grateful for these days?
Spa day at home
There are many ways to have a “spa day at home.” Ideas include a bubble bath (bath bombs are the best), face masks (you can even make your own using ingredients from your kitchen!), wearing comfy clothes (I could stay in my pj’s all day), painting your nails (vibrant colours might cheer you up) or buying fancy soap/shampoo (it smells so nice!).
Art is a great way to calm your mind. Cultivating creativity is something we should all strive to do, and there are endless possibilities when it comes to doing art. Colouring, painting, scrapbooking, knitting, drawing, photography…and more!
I haven’t read a book in a while, but I would like to start reading fiction again. Reading fiction is different from reading textbooks or articles, because it really allows you to escape. Reading fiction is therapeutic for me, and I highly encourage others to give it a try. I have a soft spot for YA novels, especially those that bring awareness to mental health issues.
Praying is another thing that can calm your mind. I respect everyone’s religious orientation, so maybe it’s not the best fit for everyone. However, you do not necessarily have to pray to God. You can pray to the universe, a higher power or even to your own wisdom. I personally pray whenever I need to find hope in my life. I find it to be very soothing and meaningful.
Going for a mindful walk
I study and work from home, and sometimes I won’t go outside for many days in a row. I’ve been trying to go for mindful walks, because fresh air helps my mental health. I try to be mindful when I walk. I notice the colours of the leaves, the sound of the wind, the smell of the trees and the rain and so on. I think walking is a good way for me to clear my mind — whenever I need to motivate myself to go outside, I walk to my favourite coffee shop then reward myself with a comforting drink!
There are many ways to calm your mind and body, and the list above does not do justice to all the possibilities. Perhaps a good first step is to do one activity per day – or maybe two if you feel like it!
The authors of this column are not mental health professionals. If you need additional support, please contact Student Health Services, the Sexual Assault Support Centre and/or the Wellness Centre. In case of an emergency, call 911.