One of my favourite blogging inspirations is the diverse variety of international and national celebrations and awareness days. When we get high profile occasions such as World Mental Health Day, I often see brilliant and inspiring blogs pop up across social media but it makes me wonder about the lesser-known celebrations...
This week is National Picnic Week. Remember picnics? Often hastily planned family days outdoors to take advantage of a snatch of sunshine, with tightly packed sandwiches, bottles of fizzy pop from the back of the cupboard and those multi-pack of crisps which the kids always argue over the one flavour they all love. Driving out to a popular beauty spot along with every other family in the region, dusting off an old blanket and searching through the shed to find any outdoor games equipment that might have survived three summers of decay. And after all that, spending more time protecting your food from flying insects and the rain than actually eating anything!
It was great, wasn't it?
Picnics are one of those childhood defining memories and everyone probably did it differently. It was all about finding the components of the day that met the needs and interests of your family. How many mums and dads, grandparents and godparents, friends and family spent considerable time and effort planning the perfect picnic?
While I was thinking about what I would include within my perfect picnic basket, it got me thinking about planning the important things that I need to maintain my own wellbeing. After all, most people see the opportunity for a picnic as the chance to escape from the everyday life, find an enjoyable place and build some happy memories with those you love, with the sometimes understated aim of enjoying yourself and improving your mental health.
It is recommended that you take time to look after your mental health and this can be in many forms. Whatever you find enjoyable, relaxing or simply peaceful, find the time and the opportunity to make it happen so that you can keep your wellbeing balanced.
So what would I include in my Wellbeing Picnic basket?
- My favourite sandwiches: I know much of the "foody" advice is about health eating and sensible consumption of the correct nutrition but there is something to be said for giving yourself a treat now and then so don't be afraid to sneak your favourites into the picnic hamper.
- Bananas: My wife may not be a huge fan but this is a fruit that contains the right amino acids and vitamins that have been linked to improving mood through releasing serotonin into your system.
- Packets of Brazil nuts: An odd snack but these nuts are rich in selenium, a mineral full of antioxidants and studies have shown that people who are deficient in this mineral are susceptible to depression and anxiety.
- Bottled Water: I don't really need to point out the benefits of staying hydrated especially in strong heat but it also has positive effects to our overall diet and physical health (and we know that having a well-balanced diet has benefits for our mental wellbeing).
- A good book: Reading is often a good form of escapism and whilst it is never a permanent fix to your problems, you might find that you benefit from the opportunity to mentally travel to a fantasy world and live the experiences of a fictional character.
- Mobile phone: Not what you are thinking...there are plenty of great wellbeing applications that you can get on your phone including relaxation and meditation apps. I certainly don't advocate bringing your social media world on a picnic with you if you can help it, just take a break from the digital stresses.
What about you? Those are my suggestions for what I would include in my Wellbeing Picnic. If you get the opportunity this week (and if the weather permits it) try to escape to a perfect picnic spot and take the time to do your mental health a world of good.