Saturday, March 16, 2013

Danielle Hark Blog: Five Ways Acting Like a Kid Can Improve Your Mental Health

"My 'inner child 'is only 1/8 of an inch from my outer skin" -- super-sophisticate cartoonist Don Mangus

Four Color #381 Marge's Tubby by John Stanley.

Five Ways Acting Like a Kid Can Improve Your Mental Health by Danielle Hark

Whether you suffer from depression or are just having a case of the winter blues, there are things you can do right now to help brighten your day. It's easier than you might think. Just pay attention to those little lessons you teach your kids.

1. Do something physical. Get out of your mind and into your body. Do yoga. Ride a bike. Or just stretch and take a walk. Anything to get your body moving. If you really want some fun, grab a hula hoop, dance around your living room, or play a game of hopscotch.

2. Get creative. You don't have to be a trained artist to make art. Do something creative, whether it is coloring on a napkin at a restaurant or taking a photo with your phone. The finished product doesn't matter -- it's about the act of being creative and looking at the world around you for little details and capturing them.

3. Self-soothe. Use your five senses. Taste. Smell. See. Hear. Touch. Taste a bite or two of something yummy. Smell for pleasant smells around you -- flowers, perfumes, lotions. Listen to calming sounds or music you like. Look for tranquil or beautiful sites to focus on -- perhaps a tree outside your window or a painting of an ocean. Keep a stone or something textured or comforting in your pocket to touch and ground you. Pet your pet. You can also use imagery, meditation or prayer. Guided visualization/meditation techniques or prayer can be incredibly soothing, or just imagine yourself on your favorite vacation. Close your eyes and feel the sun on your face and the sand under your toes.

4. Take care of your body. Eat well. Drink water. Keep a regular bed time. Take care of any physical problems. These are things that may seem small but can definitely affect your mood.

5. Have fun and be silly. Let your inner child (or real child) be your guide. Blow bubbles, play games, make a snow angel, or try to get a slinky down more than three steps. Not only is it fun to act like a kid, but it keeps you in the present moment, instead of ruminating on the past or future. So go wild. The possibilities are endless.

"Neat Trick" by Gil Elvgren.

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