Mental Fitness

Are you ready to take on the 20-day mental wellness challenge?

By Deb Dittner

mental healthWith the holidays here and everyone in overload mode, mental wellness can be a real challenge.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

But what if you don’t realize your own fantastic abilities? What are “normal stresses of life”?

What if you aren’t in or can’t find a job allowing you to be the productive person you truly are?

Let’s look at ways to improve your mental health:

— First and foremost, talk to yourself in a positive manner. No negative talk allowed as negativity breeds more negativity.

— Write in a journal what you are truly grateful for and why. Gratitude will lead to happiness.

— Be mindful. Be in the present. Be aware of one thing right now in this moment.

— Get moving. Physical movement relieves stress and boosts your mood. Exercise aids in preventing stress, anxiety and depression. It’s recommended for 30 minutes most days of the week. By exercising outdoors, you also receive the benefit of sunlight and vitamin D.

— Eat whole nutrient-dense foods consisting of fat, fiber and protein.

— Open up and talk with a friend.

— Do something good for someone else. Being kind and helpful to others in need boosts your self-esteem and feel-good hormones.

— Take a break. Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor and hands resting comfortably in your lap. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to a count of four. Hold your breath to the count of seven.

Exhale fully through the mouth to the count of eight. Repeat this sequence three more times for an entire cycle of four breaths.

— Maintain a nighttime routine. Go to bed at the same time each evening. Do not use iPads, iPhones, television or other electronics for at least an hour before bed as these are stimulators and may cause lack of sleep or restless sleep.

Still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel? Check out this mental health challenge by

20-day mental wellness challenge

mental healthYou’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.

• Day 1: Go to bed one hour earlier than usual.

• Day 2: Journal 10 things you’re grateful for.

• Day 3: Take a walk outdoors.

• Day 4: Call someone you love.

• Day 5: De-clutter your room or desk.

• Day 6: Take a social media sabbatical.

• Day 7: Make a list of short-term goals.

• Day 8: Make the most epic, creative salad you can think of.

• Day 9: Slow down. Sit and watch the sunset.

• Day 10: Get rid of five things you never use.

• Enjoy the sun. Eat lunch outside.

• Day 12: Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails.

• Day 13: Send an encouraging text to five people.

• Day 14: Wake up 30 minutes earlier to pray.

• Day 15: Plan a tea/smoothie date with a friend.

• Day 16: Go the entire day without complaining.

• Day 17: Buy yourself flowers.

• Day 18: Make time for a wholesome breakfast.

• Day 19: Do one thing you’ve been putting off.

• Day 20: Don’t over-think; practice being present.

I cannot take credit (nor do I know where it originated or who wrote it) for the 20-day mental wellness challenge, but I loved it so much and needed to share it with you. By doing this challenge, I hope you will find peace of mind and love in your heart during this holiday season.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.