How movement, mindfulness, and time outside help me manage my mental health

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Ginger shares how she combines mindfulness, movement, and time outdoors to manage her mental health and wellbeing.

– Ginger Abbot

Just like my journey to health and
wellness is unique to me, everyone has their own journey that they can follow
towards leading a more mindful, healthy, and fulfilling life.

For me, mindfulness, movement, and time
outdoors have been critical pieces of my wellness practice. Not only that —
they’re habits that have improved my life for the better, which I plan to keep
pursuing for years to come. While everyone is different and the mindfulness
practices that work for me might not always work for others, I’m grateful for
my ability to share my journey.

When I began my wellness journey, there
was so much I didn’t know. And while I still have a lot to learn, picking up my
three key habits has been a transformative experience. Whether I’m on the ball
with my wellness game or I have a lazy day, the positive impact of my
commitment to wellness is able to carry me through. Here are some of the ways
that I implement healthy habits for mental health, and how mindfulness helps
manage mental health in my world

1. Mindfulness, little by little

Mindfulness is defined as the practice
remaining grounded in the present moment by using the sensations,
sounds, and visual elements around you.

When I first started out with
mindfulness, this was a sort of daunting idea, so instead of trying to engage
in mindfulness constantly, I found little moments that could serve as venues
for my mindfulness. Over time, it grew bigger and bigger, as habits often do.

2. Finding activities I love

Everybody pretty much knows about the
benefits of exercise for mental health — releasing endorphins, improving your
mood, and fostering the connection between the mind and body.

However, sometimes exercise can feel
like a drag. It’s okay to admit that working out takes effort. If it didn’t,
I’d probably be doing it wrong. The key for me that actually helps me stick to
it is finding activities that I truly enjoy doing. I don’t love hitting the
gym, but I do love taking walks outside, doing yoga, and riding my bike. These
are activities that I find easy to return to again and again.

3. Getting outside once a day

This one will likely come as no surprise,
as I’ve been vocal about how time outside improves mental health. I can’t
always explain it logically, but going outside often makes me feel better, even
when I’m having a particularly bad day.

Research shows that
spending as little as
10 minutes a day in green spaces can improve mood and
reduce stress. While I enjoy getting outside for longer than that, sometimes a
little bit is all I need.

4. Fostering the mind-body connection

One of the biggest parts of improving
my mental health with wellness practices has been fostering and
recognising the connection between my mind and my body.

Before I had a strong handle on the
direct impact of wellness practices on my health, it was sometimes hard to
stick to them. But when I make a point to notice the way mindfulness meditation
makes me feel in my body or the mental payoff of a great workout, it’s much
more motivating to stick to my practices.

5. Combining my practices

My biggest and most helpful tip for
using mindfulness, movement, and outdoor time to manage my mental health is
combining my practices. Often, I get into a wellness headspace when I want to
accomplish some of these tasks for the day, and doing them at once can often
give me all the benefits I need without the possibility of stopping and not
returning to my wellness.

I love to practice yoga, which combines
mindfulness and movement into one. I love to work out in nature or practice mindfulness walking meditations when I want to have a more active
mindfulness practice. Often, this can be the push I need to get on a bit of a

6. Movement, mindfulness, and nature

While my mental health won’t be the
same as anybody else’s, I still believe that these habits can enact some
positive change in anyone who is open to it. What are some of your favourite
wellness practices?

Find out more about what you can do to improve your
wellbeing on Student Space.

Ginger Abbot is a student life and education
writer who is currently enrolled in graduate school part-time. She also serves
as Editor-in-Chief for the online learning magazine Classrooms.

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