Mental health is a very important topic for each and every one of us to be focused on. At The Natural Essex Girl, we believe that natural highs can help improve how we feel. This month, we’re sharing our favourite 15 natural highs for a life more in tune with our minds and nature.
NB: We wrote this article one year ago, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. It didn’t feel right to publish it at the time, whilst the world grappled with a new and difficult reality. We hope it can offer you some comfort today.
1. The Smell of Flowers
Flowers invoke many wonderful natural highs, from their vibrant colours to the memories picking flowers can bring back from childhood. But the aroma of fresh flowers is our favourite thing about them.
Plant a variety along the edge of your driveway to smell on your way out or bring fresh flowers into your home for a little piece of nature indoors. Nothing beats walking into a room where the sweet scent of your favourite blooms tickles your face.
We always keep fresh flowers indoors. When we’re stressed, we love to take three deep breaths whilst cuddling the bunch and inhaling the smell of flowers.
2. Kitchen Dancing
Yep. That’s right. Kitchen. Dancing. Depending on your current circumstances, you may not dance as much as your body would like to … or as much as you once did. Dancing and movement is part of who we are.
For some of us who suffer with our mental health, the idea of dancing in public either has to be fuelled by a lot of alcohol, tailored in a certain fashion to boost our confidence or completely avoided for fear of embarrassment.
Skip the pressure and create a kitchen performance, just for you. Pop on some of your favourite music and shimmy, bop or float around the room as you wait for the kettle to boil or slowly prepare dinner.
3. A Friendly Face
A warm, friendly smile is highly underestimated. With many of us too busy to stop and chat to strangers, and often too busy to check in physically with our own friends, a friendly face might be lacking from your life.
The silent and positive support from someone who loves us is vitally important when we don’t feel quite ourselves. And there are many ways to lift ours and others spirits, simply with a smile.
Make an arrangement to see someone you care about, plan a video call to that long distant friend who always makes you smile or record a video message for someone who needs a little lift.
4. Sunrise Skies
In our monotonous, often unnatural, daily routines, the beginning of a new day is often wasted on us, or missed completely. When you’re suffering with low mood and depression, the miracle and beauty of a new day seems unimportant.
We find, when we really need a reminder that our lives are precious, worthwhile and so very valuable, experiencing a sunrise sky can be the respite we need.
Start the day with the natural pink, amber and yellow hues of a sunrise and notice your body and mind soften into your morning with an effortless ease you might have forgotten is possible.
You may also like these 7 tips to stay healthy.
5. The Sound of the Waves
Water is calming and very therapeutic. And there is no water on earth more transfixing and powerful than the roar of the ocean. There’s something about the rhythmic swell that silences unimportant niggles and worries.
Whether you live near the ocean or not, make time for getting to the sea. Take regular coastal walks if you are not far or plan a low-budget beach trip with a friend. Allow time for just being beside the ocean.
For us, the power of the ocean inspires new ideas and creative thinking. We like to just be still and present, but you could try beach yoga, go for a run or even attend a surf camp if you find being still uncomfortable.
6. Sun on your Skin
If you’ve just woken up from the depths of winter, or have a predominantly indoor lifestyle, you might have forgotten how wonderfully lifting the feel of sun on your skin is.
Angle your face towards it out of the car window, find the sunniest spot in your house to enjoy your morning cup of tea or sit outside in direct sunlight.
Just a few minutes of sun exposure gives us a much needed vitamin D boost and lifts our minds and spirits.
7. A Loving Cuddle
When mental health problems threaten to ruin your day, sometimes the only thing that’s needed is the support and embrace of a loving cuddle.
Give in to the idea of receiving a hug from someone who cares for you and don’t rush away from it too quickly. Just hold each other, or be held, for at least 30 seconds, and notice the difference in how you feel.
When we feel supported and loved just as we are, amazing things start to happen to our moods, state of mind and wellbeing. Offering a hug to someone else can have the same effect – remember to be selective!
8. Nostalgic Music
Music has a way of transporting us back in time, provoking memories, sensations and emotions perhaps long forgotten.
Think back to a particularly wonderful time of your life and create a music playlist anywhere you prefer to listen that reminds you of those moments.
Play this on your boring commute or before you fall asleep at night to unfold feelings of gratitude and happiness. Sometimes the best way to calm our minds is with a trip down a positive memory lane.
9. The Smell after it Rains
We already mentioned that water has a very healing nature. The smell after it rains is often cited as one of the best natural highs.
It may have something to do with the gratitude that comes with rain. It can relieve hot, sweaty summer days, provide nutrients to crops and flowers or wash away bad feelings.
When it next rains, imagine letting go of all your stresses and allowing them to wash away with the rain. When it stops, step outside and take three deep breaths to remind your body of the unique smell after it rains.
10. Getting Messy
Squelchy mud, rain water puddles or salty sand in our hair, getting messy reminds many of us of those days when we needn’t think of anything other than the moment.
We didn’t care for how to clean out stains and we didn’t care whether we looked presentable. Even if you have never liked getting messy, you may suprise yourself and find this one particularly liberating.
There’s something so freeing about getting messy … and not cleaning it away immediately, or excusing it away either. Get stuck into some natural mess. Dig your bare feet into the dirt or start mildly with a washing up bubble fight at your earliest opportunity.
11. Delicious Food
Food is a basic human need. Whilst we all eat every day to stay alive, the taste, aroma and feel of food offers far more than just survival.
Foods can remind us of countries we’ve visited, people we’ve loved or stories we’ve shared. If you need a natural pick me up this week, plan a meal that will make you feel good.
You could cook a recipe that reminds you of a loved one or order local takeaway to relive the tastes of a country you once fell in love with. Take slow bites and savour your mouthfuls.
Don’t think about your waistline or count the calories. Food is healing and delicious food can make us happy in a very healthy way.
12. Uncontrollable Laughter
When was the last time you laughed so hard you nearly wet yourself? Uncontrollable laughter is one of the best natural highs. Our whole body reacts to laughing in a positive way.
We let go of tension and focus solely on laughing. Our face muscles get a good exercise, our spirit feels lifted and this creates a wonderful social acceptance too.
When you’re laughing with someone else, you’re both in a great place and there’s literally no room for any negative, nasty thoughts to plaque you.
13. The Smell of Clean Linen
The complete opposite of getting messy, the smell of freshly laundered bedding or towels makes us smile, breathe deeper and feel comforted.
If you struggle in the mornings, put out a fresh towel and leave it on a warm radiator for a sweet smelling, warm cuddle after your shower.
14. A Hot Bath
If you’ve spent the day outside, gone a little too hard at the gym or are feeling cold, a hot bath is an excellent natural high for you today.
Keep bubble baths or eco bath bombs at home that you love the smell of, run a warm bath and sink into the water as your troubles melt away.
It’s physically very difficult to hold onto tension with the heat touching your bare skin and the healing property of water all around you. If you find it difficult to really relax, try lighting a lavender candle, playing music or reading a special book.
15. Enter your Favourite Natural High Here..
Your turn! What’s your favourite natural high? How do you relax, unwind or lift your mood naturally? Can you think of something that we haven’t mentioned here?
We love trying new natural highs so please leave us your suggestion in the comments below.