Mental Health Care For All: Let’s Make It A Reality
The focus of World Mental Health Day in 2021 was to increase accessibility of mental health services in all countries, for all people. Our goal at Madefor during this campaign was to provide an opportunity to empower people to look after their own mental health and provide support to others, which inspired us to host a completely free, ten-day text challenge.
Each day, participants focused on 1 simple, science-backed action step to boost their mental health. Each step is easy, accessible, and connected to a foundational process in your body. When practiced consistently and with intention, the small steps will add up to create a big impact over time.
We encourage you to try out each daily challenge and figure out what practices work best for you and your body. No expensive gadgets, magic pills, or long retreats are required. A path to flourishing is within everyone's reach. We can't wait to hear how it goes!
Before we get started, if mental illness is present in your life, know you’re not alone. You matter, and maybe the most courageous thing you can do today is ask for help. Find professional medical care—there is no substitute.
Ready to get started? Here are a few success stories we heard from participants of our live challenge.
Madefor World Mental Health Day Challenge
Day 1: Drink Water
Let's start with the most foundational habit of them all - hydration! You may be thinking: Just drink water? Too easy. But, you may underestimate the crucial role it plays in the effective functioning of your body and brain. Fatigue, brain fog, headaches, mood swings—this is what most people report when they don’t drink enough water and nearly half of Americans are chronically dehydrated.
Bottom line - proper hydration is a building block to help you flourish. The challenge today is to pay attention to how much water you drink and how you feel after. The goal isn't to drink as much as possible, but to drink as much as feels right for you. Keep a tally of the number of bottles, check in with yourself during the day, and write down how you feel. You got this!
Day 2: Use your breath to recharge
In today's world, we tend to look to technology (social media, video games, etc) to bring us pleasure and help us avoid difficult states like boredom, anxiety, or confronting tough circumstances. Instead of turning to devices today, let's turn to one of the most powerful (and FREE) tools you have to help you work through different states - your breath.
Your challenge is to use your breath in an intentional way to shift your experience today. Control heightened states like stress or anxiety in real-time using simple inhales and exhales.
Day 3: Get out into Nature to recharge
Netflix and chill isn't as chill as you might think. Watching TV might feel restful in the moment but it's not actively recharging your system. It's like taking pennies from a penny jar. It doesn't seem like it is doing harm but it adds up over time. In contrast, nature makes us happier, healthier, AND replenishes our attention reserves. It's like making a deposit in our mental bank accounts.
Your challenge today is to spend 10 minutes immersed in nature - without your phone! Take a stroll outside, stand barefoot in your lawn, smell a nearby flower, or sit on your porch and have a snack. The more you can tune into nature, the more rewards you will receive - and the longer they will last. Send a picture of what you noticed to a friend and encourage them to get outside today!
Day 4: Get Morning Sunlight
Sleep is a fundamental layer of our well-being. Better sleep brings better cognitive, emotional, and physical power. If we sleep well, we think well. So, what is the secret to better sleep? Hint: it's not an expensive device or supplement. It's light! Your challenge is to get a morning dose of sunlight on your eyes for at least 10 minutes today (preferably early in the day).
Drink your morning tea or catch up on the news outside. This practice will kickstart your internal clock to align with the rhythms of the environment, leaving your body better prepared for sleep at night. You may not feel an immediate impact but keep up the practice - it will have it's rewards!
Day 5: Move your body!
For some of us a barrier to moving your body is thinking exercise needs to be difficult, regimented, and intense. We view exercise as a chore and have lost track of how fun it can be to just move our bodies. When we only focus on reps in a gym over motion, we actually see a decline in all the benefits that physical activity can bring to our bodies, hearts, and minds.
Connect with the simple joy of movement today. No gym equipment or yoga mat required. Your challenge is to carve out 15 minutes for playful movement throughout your day. Dance to your favorite song, kick a soccer ball, or try out this video from our Advisor, Rory. Positive mental health can start by appreciating your body and all it can do for you, so let's get moving!
Day 6: Complete a Random Act of Kindness
When was the last time you randomly showed kindness to an acquaintance (not a close friend)? Studies show that deliberately practicing kindness positively affects wellbeing for you and the receiver. When you practice kindness, don't forget to savor the positive feelings that kindness brings. Try this a few times and you'll start to naturally see opportunities for additional kindness.
Your challenge is to connect with 1 person through a random act of kindness today - without spending any money at all. Give a co-worker an unexpected compliment, bake cookies for a neighbor to brighten their day, or donate unused items around your house to those in need. What did you notice? Journal about what you did and how it impacted you and the receiver!
Day 7: Get a large dose of Nature
Earlier in the challenge, we learned that nature can refill our mental bank accounts. How does it work? Plants and trees emit phytoncides, which are natural chemicals known to boost our immune system, decrease levels of stress hormones, better our sleep, & improve overall mood. Even a small dose can make a big impact.
Your challenge today is to get a small dose of "Vitamin N". When you need a little boost, step outside, grab a piece of nature, like a flower, pine needles, or mint, and take a deep whiff of the fragrant smells. The best part: You don't need to live near a beach or mountain retreat. Lean into this practice any time, anywhere - it's totally free! What did you notice?
Day 8: Practice Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR)
What if we told you there is a simple practice that can enhance learning and memory, positively impact sleep, reduce stress, and improve cognitive capacity? And it's not breathwork or mediation. Whether you've had a hard time connecting with these popular practices in the past or are simply looking for new tools to add to your toolkit, Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) is the way to go!
Use this passive listening protocol to rapidly reset your ability to be calm and focused. This is the perfect tool to try before a stressful meeting, during a restless night of sleep, or if you are simply feeling low on energy. Try it out anytime today and take note of your experience before and after.
Day 9: Get some Clarity
Clearing our physical spaces = clearing our mental spaces. At Madefor, we help you identify how engaging with the small things in your environment make an impact on how you feel. You've been cultivating this awareness throughout the text challenge so today, let's narrow in on a space where you spend a large amount of time - your home.
A UCLA study found that people who live in a messy, clutter-filled homes have higher cortisol levels and reported more stress. Identify a space that you interact with often, like an office or kitchen and tidy it up--no cleaning team required. Pay attention to how you feel every time you step back into that space today.
Day 10: Connect the dots
Connecting the dots. Your last challenge is to connect few of the practices you learned these past 9 days into one. Take a walk outside for 10 min and while on your walk, take random stops to check-in with yourself. First, notice the sights and sounds of nature around you. Then, pay attention to how you move your body. Lastly, pay attention to your inhales and exhales.
Savor this time, without distraction, to tune into your internal body cues and how to best serve them and yourself. Let that knowledge guide your route, pace, and experience. How did it feel to connect the dots? Journal about the tools and practices you plan to carry forward with you from this challenge.
Thanks for joining us & hundreds of others for the 10-day challenge in honor of World Mental Health Day. We hope you've noticed the positive results that even the simplest actions steps can produce.