Mental health is just as important as physical health, but unfortunately, it’s often not taken as seriously. It is partly because mental health can be challenging to quantify and partly because people are often ashamed to talk about their mental health issues.

However, there are many ways to support your mental health, some of which might seem unconventional and maybe even a bit odd. But if you try them out, you might see a significant difference.

Here are four of the best unconventional ways to support your mental health:

1. Get an Emotional Support Animal

If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or any other mental health disorder, an emotional support animal can be a great way to help ease your symptoms. Emotional support animals provide companionship and can help reduce anxiety and loneliness. 

To get one, all you need is an ESA letter, and your ESA will qualify for protections under the Fair Housing Act—meaning you won’t have to pay pet rent and will be allowed to have them even in pet-free housing.

2. Tap into Childhood Joy

Remember when you were a kid, and everything was new and exciting? Life was full of possibilities, and you didn’t have a care in the world. It turns out that tapping into that childhood sense of joy can be good for your mental health. 

Doing things that make you feel happy and carefree can help improve your mood and reduce stress. So go ahead and do something that makes you feel like a kid again—jump in puddles, build a fort, or have a pillow fight. Whatever sparks your inner child’s joy.

3. Give Yourself a Daily Hug

It might sound silly, but hugging yourself can benefit your mental health. When you hug yourself, it releases oxytocin—a hormone that helps reduce stress, anxiety, and the stress hormone cortisol. Plus, it just feels good! So go ahead and give yourself a big ol’ hug. You deserve it.

4. Go on Outdoor Walks

Spending time in nature has been shown to affect mental health positively. One study found that just 20 minutes in nature can help reduce stress and improve your mood. 

Plus, further research shows that when we walk, we experience what’s called “optic flow,” which describes the work our eyes and brains do to help us understand where we are in relation to our surroundings and quiet our brain’s response to threats.

So take some time to enjoy the great outdoors—go for a hike, take a walk in the park, or sit in your backyard and soak up some sun. It doesn’t need to cost a thing to experience these incredible benefits.

Finding Unique Solutions to Support Mental Health

With so much of our lives shaped by stress, finding what works for you when supporting your mental health is essential. These four unconventional methods are a great place to start, but don’t be afraid to get creative and find other ways that work for you. Your mental health is always worth the effort.

Published by HOLR Magazine.