With millions of Americans experiencing increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm, self-care and mental health awareness are more important now than ever. With that said, knowing how to best take care of yourself isn’t always easy, especially when time, energy, and resources are lacking (or non-existent). So, instead of letting your mental health challenge you, we’re helping you challenge those emotions and take back control. How you ask? With a 21 Day Mental Wellness Challenge! Because who doesn’t love a challenge?
We’ve mapped out 21 simple ways to boost your mental health with simple lifestyle changes and actionable coping mechanisms. Best of all, they require less than 5 minutes, cost you zero dollars, and will help BOOST your energy rather than drain it. Sounds amazing, right!? We think so too. And, consistent daily habits help build lifelong sustainable changes. So, simply following this challenge could be setting your future self up for (stress-free) success!
While you can switch any day to make the challenge your own, we encourage you to stay consistent throughout the three weeks! All you need is five minutes per day and an open mind 🙂
Up for the challenge? Let’s kiss that stress goodbye!
Mental Wellness Challenge Calendar
Here’s a glimpse at the mini 5-minute habits that are included in this challenge for the next 21 days. Feel free to save this, screenshot, print, and share!
The 21 Day Challenge to Support Your Mental Health
Day #1: Make a Nutrient-Dense Breakfast (In 5-Minutes or Less)
Boosting your mental health could be as simple as starting the day with a nutrient-rich breakfast. In fact, nourishing your body with a balanced morning meal has been shown to support an overall healthier lifestyle!
So, start the day with a mood-boosting breakfast! To save you time and stress, you can even prep it the night before, like overnight oats or chia seed pudding.
Day #2: Declutter One Drawer in Your House
Consider how you feel when your space is clean and organized. Less stressed, maybe? More in control? Well, there’s a reason you feel this way! According to research, a messy, chaotic environment can lead to a scattered and distracted mind — it can even promote feelings of anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem.
Start small. Commit to cleaning one area first! Then, who knows, maybe you’ll even feel motivated to tackle multiple areas.
Here are some ideas to inspire your clean routine:
- Clean out your junk drawer (you know the one!)
- Organize *one* dresser drawer or area of your closet (maybe your jeans, swimsuits, or workout drawer
- Clean out your car — maybe even vacuum it and take it for a car wash
- Organize your desk drawer… including that stack of papers
Still feeling inspired? Switch out your seasonal closet! Say goodbye to summer clothes and put your fall clothes on display.
Day #3: Do a (Five-Minute) Meditation
Even on the busiest of days, we all have five minutes to spare! Support your mental health and calm your mind with a five-minute FitOn meditation. Yes, a few minutes is really all you need! Studies suggest a mere five minutes of meditation can reduce stress and anxiety and positively benefit self-worth.
If you’re new to meditation and feel intimidated, that’s ok — and totally normal! Simply press play on this Everything Calm five-minute meditation, and DeAndre Sinette will guide you through the rest.
Day #4: Take Your Morning Coffee Outdoors
Exposure to sunlight first thing in the morning can regulate your circadian rhythm, boost your mood, and increase your energy. Try to make this the first thing you do before reaching for your phone or looking at your electronics! Take your cup of joe outside and enjoy it with a side of vitamin D! As a part of today’s mental health challenge, set your alarm five minutes earlier and take your first sip of coffee in the morning sunshine. Exposure to sunlight has been shown to increase serotonin, aka “the happy hormone.”
As a bonus challenge, can you make this part of your routine for the duration of the 21 days? Maybe you take your morning meditation outdoors, go for a tech-free walk, or simply sit in silence and soak in the quiet morning serenity.
Day #5: Unfollow Negative Social Media Accounts
What starts as an innocent scroll through social media can quickly spiral out of control into a dark hole of comparison, self-judgment, and poor self-esteem. At its worst, the highlight reel of social media can even cause anxiety and depression. Use this mental health challenge to hit unfollow on any accounts, making you feel less than you’re worth.
Bonus challenge: silence your notifications and sign off social media for the rest of the day (the whole day!)
Day #6: Add One Mindful Thing to Your Morning Routine
If mindfulness techniques can improve mental, physical, and emotional health, why not incorporate them into your morning routine!?
Try these five-minute mindfulness techniques for a simple mental health boost:
- Take a few moments to close your eyes, listen to your breath, and soak in your surroundings.
- Take a body scan and check in with how your body is feeling at this very moment. Start with the bottoms of your toes, and work your way up to the top of your head.
- Go for a brief walk and leave your phone at home.
- Think about one person you are thankful for and why!
RELATED: Combining Mindfulness with Exercise
Day #7: Make Your Bed
Yes, making your bed is your mental health challenge of the day! And, according to science, it truly does boost your mental health. For starters, being organized and tidy is associated with better impulse control (think: appetite, exercise, and overall balance!). Plus, it can help you sleep better — and I think we can agree, sleep boosts mental health.
Add it to your morning routine, along with these simple and easy Morning Mood Boosters!
Day #8: Start Your Day with a Large Glass of Water
Did you know a morning glass of water could have mood-boosting benefits? According to research, dehydration and mood are directly connected where insufficient water intake could lead to fatigue, stress, irritability, and confusion. So, let’s kick off today’s mental health challenge by sipping away! Before you reach for your morning coffee or matcha, start your day off with a large glass of water.
Want to keep the momentum going? Carry a (cute and sustainable) water bottle with you as a constant reminder to keep on sippin’!
Day #9: Take 10 Deep Belly Breaths
Deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, is a stress-relieving technique that encourages full oxygen exchange. It can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to reduce stress, promote a sense of calm, and bring you back to a present state of being.
Set aside five minutes today for this relaxation technique and exhale those stressors out of your body!
RELATED: 3 Simple Breathing Techniques That Will Change Your Life
Day #10: Repeat Positive Affirmations
Repeating positive affirmations can shift your mindset and help refocus your energy on the positive. Whether you write it down, say it out loud, or repeat it in your head is up to you — whatever you choose, just be sure to start the day with a positive affirmation.
Try an “I am” statement for however you want to feel. Maybe you want to feel confident, productive, healthy, or energized. Once you decide on your positive affirmation, repeat, repeat, repeat! If you feel called to do so, write your affirmation on a post-it note and stick it somewhere visible, like your bathroom mirror or bedroom wall. Every time you walk by, use it as an opportunity to repeat your affirmation!
Feeling stuck with today’s mental health challenge? Try this 6-minute Self-Love Affirmations meditation.
Day #11: Be Mindful & Present During Your Meals
Your mental health challenge of the day? Practice mindful eating! Be present during each meal and call upon all of your senses with each bite. What flavors do you taste? How does the texture feel? What aromas do you smell, and what emotions does that elicit? Chew slowly and stop when you’re satiated but not stuffed. By eating mindfully, you may even enjoy your meal more and feel less inclined to overeat!
Day #12: Write Down 3 Goals For the Week
You’ve almost completed two weeks of your mental health challenge, be proud of all your efforts! Take a few minutes today to reflect on the week ahead. Write down three actionable goals for the week, with a plan of how you can accomplish them. Heading into a new week with motivation and intention can be a powerful step in boosting your mental health and self-esteem.
It’s also a great time to reflect on your progress thus far. Where are your roadblocks? What areas do you need support? What can you do to set yourself up for success?
Day #13: Call a Friend or Family Member
Speaking of support, taking a few moments to check in on a friend or family member can make a world of difference. And no, email or text doesn’t count for your mental health challenge of the day! Simply picking up the phone and letting a loved one know you care not only benefits them, but it can also benefit you! In fact, maintaining strong relationships can reduce stress and feelings of loneliness, and even help you feel a sense of purpose.
Day #14:Treat Yourself To Your Favorite Beverage
Two weeks of prioritizing your mental health?! Look at you go. Stop by your favorite cafe and treat yourself to your favorite latte or treat as recognition for all your hard work. And while you’re there, why not see if they offer any superfood add-ins! Ingredients like cacao, reishi, ashwagandha, and turmeric all come with stress-busting benefits.
And P.S. If you’re consistent with your self-care and mental health routine, remember to acknowledge your efforts. Introducing the occasional reward — whether it’s a yummy latte or a cute new yoga mat — will continue to encourage positive behavior. And you want to keep the momentum going, right? So, reward away!
Day #15: Schedule In Your Movement For the Week
The motivation to move isn’t always there, so taking a few moments to schedule in your workouts can help keep you accountable. And, though your scheduled movement could be planned workouts (like a gym sesh or FitOn yoga flow), it could be something as simple as a walk! So long as you’re making time to move your body, you’re benefiting your mental health.
Tip: Schedule in your FitOn workouts right in the FitOn app with the addition of workout reminders for that gentle nudge that it’s time to get moving!
RELATED: 9 Tips on Scheduling Workouts on Busy Days
Day #16: Check Off Your Hardest Task First
According to research, completing your hardest task first leads to a more productive and less stressful day. And, it makes sense — if you don’t have that one dreaded task looming over your head, your day is probably going to be a lot more joyful!
Day #17: Avoid Looking At Your Phone First Thing In The AM
Looking at your phone first thing in the morning can send you into stimulus overload and skyrocket your cortisol. Between work emails, texts from Mom, and the social media highlight reel you can’t help but look at, you’re immediately draining your cup before you ever had a chance to fill it. Not the best for your mental health! So, before you give your energy to anyone or anything else, make your morning routine about YOU! Instead of immediately looking at your phone, maybe you meditate, journal, drink a cup of coffee in silence, take a walk, or even get in a quick sweat. Once you’ve prioritized your mental health, you’ll be better equipped to tackle whatever is behind your screen.
Day #18: Pay It Forward With A Random Act of Kindness
I mean, who doesn’t love a random act of kindness?! It can be as simple as buying someone’s coffee, smiling at a stranger, helping someone before they ask, or simply holding the door open. A little effort goes a long way, and it pays off big! Beyond making somebody’s day, helping others can reduce stress, boost your mood, and even support your physical health.
Day #19: Sign Offline For the Day
If your job allows, use this mental health challenge to sign offline for the day. Taking a break from social media and the constant need to be “on” and “connected” can be one of the best mental health hacks there is.
Instead, use that spare time (that would have been wasted scrolling) to do something mentally stimulating, like listening to a podcast or audiobook, or reading a good book.
Trust us, you’ll come back feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and that much healthier (mentally, physically, and emotionally!)
RELATED: Signs You Need a Mental Health Day + How to Take One
Day #20: Donate 3 Items You Don’t Use
We all have those items collecting dust in our closets or on our shelves. Take a quick scan of your belongings and donate three items you don’t use! Maybe it’s clothes, books, food, toys, or all of the above! Whatever the case, donating your unused items could impact someone’s life more than you realize. And, it’s equally as good for your soul (and mental health). The act of giving improves our self-esteem and increases feelings of happiness. A major win-win, if you ask us 🙂
Day #21: Ask For Support
Your final mental health challenge? Ask for support. Yes, even if you’re feeling better than ever after twenty days of prioritizing your mental health, there’s never a bad time to ask for help. No, you’re not a burden. And yes, what you’re going through matters — even if you think your struggles seem ‘small.’ With so much going on in the world, we could all use extra support. Talk to your friend, sibling, doctor, therapist, or neighbor. Reach out to organizations or community-based support groups. The bottom line? There’s no need to suffer alone — we’re stronger together. Ask for help!
Keep The Momentum Going!
Congratulations! You’ve spent twenty-one days prioritizing your mental health. We’re so proud of you for putting yourself first. Consider how you feel now versus when you started. Pretty good, right? Well, why not keep the momentum going? All of these simple tips can be easily implemented into your day-to-day life to ease stress and help you cope during challenging times.
And, if you’re up for another challenge, why not make it six weeks? Repeat this challenge again and watch your mental health benefit beyond belief.