Now, although you may not be someone or know someone who has battled with depression directly, we’d love for you to point out someone who has never felt stressed, anxious, or down in the dumps.
Spoiler alert: WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE.
Whether it be the advancements of technology, over use of the word “busy,” societal pressures, overuse of prescriptions, or our selfie-enthused society – the feelings of sadness, anger, anxiety, overwhelm, burn out, depression, etc. are on the rise and will only continue to rise until we gives ourselves a break.
It’s currently Mental Health Awareness Month, which means it’s the perfect time to give ourselves a break and re-prioritize our mental well-being. That’s why we created our month-long Mental Health Challenge: a month’s worth of daily tasks designed to boost your mental health, prioritize your mental wellness needs, and spread awareness to those around you.
They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, right? Well our goal is to help you form a new set of habits. In reward of you doing best by you we will be awarding prizes to those who participate in our challenge on May 7th, 21st, and 31st. We won’t know if you deserve a pat on the back if you don’t show us your daily participation. Feel free to use #TheOlsonProject so. you don’t miss out, leave a comment on our posts, share your photos, videos, etc. Most importantly whatever you do, do what makes sense for you!
Please keep in mind our challenges are simply inclined to be useful ways for you to add to any current wellness or treatment plans, not replace them. We are not your doctors. Your doctors, nurses, and other trained professionals are the ones who know best.
We are simply hoping to help you try new strategies, find something that works for you, and spread awareness for #MentalHealth all month long.
As always, the most important takeaway from all of this is to make sure you are having FUN!
MAY 2019 MENTAL HEALTH CHALLENGE
To kick off our Mental Health Challenge we encourage everyone to treat your mind to some post-work, post-school, post-anything FUN. Whether that is a 10-min walk, yoga class, boat ride, home cooked meal, time to read your favorite book, etc. Treat yourselves to something enjoyable and ENJOY every moment!
Day 2: CALL A SIBLING, FRIEND, OR FAMILY MEMBER AND CHECK IN WITH THEM
Show some love to someone close to you today. Pick up the phone and call them to check in, listen closely to what they have to say, and be sure to tell them how much they mean to you. Studies have even shown that having the support of friends and family causes antidepressants to work more successfully. As people's depression improved, their social support networks did too, building even more positive momentum. In other words, being social helps you pull out of depression, and getting better helps you be more social. It's a real win/win.
It’s also National Brothers and Sisters Day so if all else fails call your siblings – they are an essential part of your support system too.
Day 3: START A TO-DO LIST AND CHECK OFF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Start writing down the tasks that need to be completed today. Once they are done check them off.
To-do lists have been proven to lower anxiety. Psychologist Dr. David Cohen puts our love of to-do lists down to three reasons: "they dampen anxiety about the chaos of life; they give us a structure, a plan that we can stick to; and they are proof of what we have achieved that day, week or month."
Day 4: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE WARMER WEATHER AND GET OUTSIDE
Take advantage of the warmer weather and get outside! Take a walk, feel the sun on your face, breath in the fresh air - anything! There are many scientifically proven reasons you should go outside including: improved short-term memory, restored mental energy, reduced inflammation to the brain, stress relief, sharper thinking and creativity and many more! Go after it, it's waiting for you!
Day 5: AVOID THE SUNDAY SCARIES AND FIND YOUR GO-TO MANTRA
False expectations and realities (like the idea that anything in life can be “perfect”) feed negative self-talk, which increases feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. On top of it the looming week ahead often brings about what we know to be the “Sunday Scaries,” making the week ahead look even more unrealistically daunting.
Find a mantra that speaks to you, like, “I can do this,” “I am worthy,” “It will all work out,” “I am strong,” or “I got this.” Then write it on a Post-it and hang it someplace you’ll see it—your fridge, front door, or mirror. It’s been proven that the way we talk to ourselves affects the way we feel and what we do. Send yourself encouraging statements and watch that blanket of darkness fall away.
Day 6: PRACTICE MEDITATION FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES
Spend 10 minutes of your free time meditating, whether it is in in the morning, on your lunch break, after work or before bed. Bonus points if you give it a shot more than once today!
If you are feeling intimidated by this concept, there are tons of guided meditation apps available in the app store and online. Some of our favorites include Calm and Headspace. You can also simply focus on your breath for 10 minutes too. Focusing on your breath is a form of meditation that switches your parasympathetic system from fight-or-flight to chill-out mode. Get in a comfortable position, whether that’s seated or lying down. Concentrate on your breathing and slow it down, taking deliberate, even-paced inhales and exhales.
Day 7: PAY IT FORWARD
It is important to get in a habit of practicing selflessness and learning to pay it forward. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Open the door for someone. Smile at a stranger. Give someone a compliment. Give up your seat on the subway. These gestures take little effort but can make a massively positive impact on another person’s day—and your own. This one works two-fold and it’s quite simple.
We want to hear how you paid it forward today – did you notice a chain reaction of any sort?
Day 8: LOVE SUM – SELF CARE COLLABORATION: Happiness.
“Happiness is love coming out of you.” - Don Miguel Ruiz
We are flooded with tips, tricks, and ideas on how to live happier lives. Sometimes these messages tell us that we need the perfect home, the coolest clothing, the most magical vacations, the list goes on and on.
What if our greatest source of happiness is actually from the love that we share? Do your part to spread the love and increase your happiness today.
Day 9: TRY SOMETHING NEW
Try something new today! Although consistency is good, keeping the same routine can cause us to run on 'auto-pilot' and not really work out our mind and brain, much like exercise and diet can do for the body. Pick up a new activity, try that new restaurant, or talk to someone new. Tring new things like this will always improve your mindfulness and self-awareness.
Day 10: DECLUTTER ONE AREA OF YOUR LIFE
One common problem of anxiety and depression is keeping your environment cluttered. 'De-cluttering' can be a daunting task but can decrease anxiety and change your environment for the better. Work today on decluttering one area of your life such as your wallet, desk, bedroom, car or desktop.
Day 11: SWEAT THERAPY. COMPLETE 10 MIN OF PHYSICAL EXERCISE
One of the best ways to immediately reduce stress and improve your mood is to get sweaty. In order to feel the benefits, it is important your workout feels intentional and effortful. This doesn’t mean you need to go full out every day, even a couple of minutes of hard work does the trick. Try a simple 10-minute exercise routine of planks, push-ups, and squats.
Not only will your mind thank you, but your body will too – thus resulting in a confidence boost back to your brain providing you double the rewarding benefits!
Did you come with some creative ways to exercise? We want to hear them!
Day 12: GRATITUDE – NOTE ONE THING YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR + CALL SOMEONE TO TELL THEM ONE REASON WHY YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR THEM
Negative thinking is a slippery slope and the best way to combat it is to practice gratitude. We challenge you to write down at least one thing you are grateful for right now in your life. Anything! Now pick up the phone and call someone to tell them on reason why you are grateful for their space in your life. Over time this practice will help you to find the small wins in life, overcoming the negative spirals our minds can fall short to.
Don’t forget today is Mother’s Day, a time to be extremely grateful for those wonderful women who raised you, reside in your life today and are always there when you need a hug. We love our mamas!
Day 13: START YOUR MORNING PRODUCTIVELY
Happy Monday friends let’s get it! Practice productivity by waking up and NOT checking social media or sleeping in. And if you are on social media right now shut it down! (Reset tonight by going to bed with the intention of waking up refreshed and jumping out of bed to start the day!).
Instead of laying in bed, try out a healthier practice such as meditating, reading or journaling outside and enjoying tea with a loved one. If you can’t remember the last time you watched sunrise, give that a go too! Nature provides some of the best mental clarity around. By starting your morning off productively, you may find that you create a more productive environment for yourself the entire day. The early bird get’s the worm right?
Day 14: GO TO BED AN HOUR EARLIER
Get Some Sleep! Many times we work ourselves silly and the first thing to be sacrificed is a full 8 hours of sleep. It is never too late to practice good behaviors so do your part go to bed one hour earlier tonight. A proper night sleep has been shown to increase productivity, while decreasing anxiety and stress induced thoughts.
If you have trouble falling asleep try drinking an herbal caffeine-free tea before bed, breathing work, reading or counting in your head.
Day 15: LOVE SUM – SELF CARE COLLABORATION: Love during tough times.
Life can get tough. Really, really tough sometimes. It’s ok to feel the hard stuff. It’s ok to sit with sadness.
Whatever you’re feeling, know that you’re not alone. This is your permission to be human.
Life may be tough, but it is always worth it. You’ve got this. When you are ready we’ve partnered with the LOVE SUM for ways to show yourself love during tough times.
Day 16: EAT ONE MEAL THAT INCLUDES AT LEAST 3 DIFFERENT COLORS
There are many factors that contribute to a poor mindset, one of them being diet and nutrition. One of the simplest ways to ensure your mind and body receives all of the nutrients it needs is to eat fruits and vegetables in the full spectrum of colors. Nature has its own “color-coding” system, with different compounds creating different hues in our foods.
Be intentional with your food today and make an effort to eat at least one meal that includes at least three different colors of the rainbow. Keep a mental checklist or even a food journal to track how many colors you’ve consumed or not consumed throughout the day. Did you miss the color red today? Add some tomatoes or strawberries into your next meal. Show us what color combinations you came up with today!
Day 17: LAUGH
Did you know that it is physically impossible to laugh and be stressed out at the same time? Hence why laughter is the ultimate stress-buster. Have a good laugh with a friend today, watch or read something funny, or even reminisce on a scenario that made you pee your pants laughing.
Day 18: UNPLUG FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS
One of our favorite days of this entire calendar…time to unplug yourselves! Social media and the rest of the online environment are great tools to stay connected, but can be platforms for toxic thinking affecting us negatively as we are compare our lives to others or spend too much time glued to a screen. Practice unplugging by not going on social media or using any technology for at least 3 hours today.
Use the opportunity spend it with the people you love, being full present and intentional, while doing something you love. Did you have plans to travel today? That’s okay – challenge yourself and print out your directions. You might just have more fun than you expected.
Day 19: GIVE BACK OR VOLUNTEER IN YOUR COMMUNITY
A proven way to help boost your mental health and awareness is through helping others and giving back to your community. You can help by volunteering locally, support a nonprofit or charity organization, or simply helping out around the home. Volunteer your time to being the one to clean up after dinner tonight, help your dad with the yardwork, or head out to your local soup kitchen and pitch a hand. There are thousands of volunteer opportunities or simple ways to give back in every community. Volunteering will not only make a difference in the world around us but will positively affect you as well, creating a double domino effect.
Day 20: SET ONE NEW GOAL FOR THE WEEK AND WORK TOWARDS IT
Much like to-do lists, goal setting has similar value in giving yourself a systematic way to achieve the tasks in which you set. Setting achievable goals boosts your ambition, breeds accountability and make you appreciate your capabilities, all of which lead to a healthier state of mind. Write down 1 weekly goals for the rest of the week and work on achieving that specific goal. We will check back you on Friday to see how you’ve done!
Day 21: COMMIT TO DRINKING AT LEAST 8 GLASSES OF WATER TODAY
Water is a vital component to our well-being, keeping us hydrated from the inside out and improving our overall health both mentally and physically. As good as it is for us, drinking the daily recommended amount seems like an impossible feat. Challenge yourself today and swap out those sugary drinks for a full 8 cups of solid water.
Save plastic by using a refillable water bottle, set reminders to help keep you on pace and be grateful that you have clean water to readily available to you.
Day 22: LOVE SUM – SELF CARE COLLABORATION: Enjoy life.
Let this be your permission slip to be fully present, to look for the good moments, and to intentionally add more joy throughout your day. Head over to our social media channels for the LOVE SUM’s “find-the-good” ideas.
Day 23: SET A REMINDER FOR A DAILY WALK
Getting your blood flowing reduces the stress hormone cortisol and releases feel-good endorphins—plus spending even 20 minutes in nature has been shown to relieve stress. Set a reminder so the other pressing needs in life can’t get in the way and be sure to make time for a walk today.
Day 24:TREAT YOURSELF TO A TREAT SUCH AS A SQUARE OF DARK CHOCOLATE
Eating chocolate (or any other food you love but within limits) fulfills the “pleasure” sector in your brain. Take time to not only treat yourself but take the time to really taste your food. Practicing this way of mindfully consuming something you love is said to also be another form of meditation. Our recommendation is indulging in a square of dark chocolate which also provides additional benefits to your brain and heart health.
And if you didn’t another reason to #TreatYoSelf, how many of you crushed that goal you set for yourself on Monday? We want to hear about it! Tell us in the comments below!
Day 25: DABBLE IN A HOBBY TODAY
We all have that one thing we wish we could spend more time doing. Well today’s the day! Take an hour to full immerse yourself in whatever hobby gives you a boost. It has been said that one of the biggest contributors to stress or anxiety is life dissatisfaction. Trust us – we’ve been there!
Do what you love and your mental health with greatly benefit. That internal voice, instinct, and intuition who knows you better than anyone will be equally proud. Make sure your hobby fuels your passion
Day 26: MAKE TIME FOR RELAXATION TIME
Take time to relax today! Draw yourself a nice bath, give your feet an Epson Salt soak, or enjoy your favorite cup of tea – all which have been proven to decrease stress. Taking the time to relax and reflect can drastically improve your mental well-being.
Tell us your methods of relaxation!
Day 27: BE MINDFUL OF OTHERS TODAY
Happy Memorial Day! Please be sure to be mindful and safe today. It is important to be aware of the effect your words and actions have on those around you. Sometimes practicing a mentally healthy state of mind includes being aware of how you are affecting those around you. We like to argue that while sticks and stones make break your bones, words too can be just as harmful. Be sure to be a positive reactor in society today!
Day 28: PRACTICE FORGIVENESS
Harboring resentment and toxicity toward others can hurt your own mental wellbeing and cause extra stress on your mind and body. Don’t forget that stressors don’t just effect your mental capacity but can wreak havoc on your physical health too. Although it may be difficult, do yourself a favor and forgive yourself and forgive others for their wrongdoings today.
If anything, look at it as giving yourself a peaceful state of mind.
Day 29: LOVE SUM – SELF CARE COLLABORATION: Connection
Whether we want to admit it or not, we need other people. Connection is why we’re here.
Today’s challenge is to schedule a coffee date right now! Tag a friend below and get something on the calendar. If you don’t live in the same town, no problem! Coffee dates can happen over Google Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, the list goes on and on!
Day 30: BE A TOURIST IN YOUR OWN TOWN
Be a tourist in your own town. We are all so quick to daydream of leaving our own environment for a 'vacation'. While traveling, experiences different cultures, or simply get out of your every day are wonderful ways to help yourself mentally. You don’t always need to be in a new town to experience something new. Break the cycle of wishing you were elsewhere and try something new in your backyard! Prove that your own hometown can also be fun and surprising! After all, sometimes we just need to give ourselves the freedom to let loose and live a little.
Day 31: PRACTICE OPTIMISM
Practice an optimistic point of view today. Having a good, strong mindset can help your own mental health by looking at each situation in a more positive light. If you look through a negative lens, it is much harder to find the encouraging things in your own life.
Our logo was developed with the intention to portray is the question of is the sun rising or setting? Is your glass half empty or half full?
We challenge you to change your perspective and begin looking at every scenario with a more optimistic point of view. You might just find that the world isn’t out to get you after all.
Good luck and always remember “I got this!”