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'Choose 5', a Daily Challenge for great mental health in NZ

I want to introduce to you 'Choose 5 a day for Great Mental Healthiness', a simple campaign of 15 positive habits that promoted by everyday kiwis could positively impact your life and the future mental health of our country.

But first: the powerful fruit and veg reminders from the 90's.

Have you heard about New Zealand’s 5 + a day Fruit and vegetable campaign? I first heard about it in my teens and how eating 5 + fruit and vegetables daily is what your body needs. I still remember it now and am prompted to eat an apple, banana or lettuce! It is an excellent example of a campaign creating a positive reminder for our daily and future benefits.

Why do we need it? If we naturally ate vegetables out of habit this campaign wouldn’t have been needed. But due to the availability of so many other options that are ‘tuned’ for our eating pleasure, like bakery, sweets, chips…. we need a hand to be reminded and prompted about our physical health.

So.... how about healthy reminders for our thought and emotional life?

Our lives are full of visual delights that are ‘tuned’ for our pleasure but don’t provide great benefit to our mental healthiness. Every day we have to make choices between what is good for us and what is not. For example: getting a full night’s 7 - 9-hour sleep or watching an online series on Netflix late into the night. (The struggle is real)

Just like eating vegetables is simple and achievable, so are mental health ‘fruit and vege’ habits. We just need a friendly reminder to make healthy choices.

So how about ‘Choose 5+ A Day’ for great Mental Health? - 15 positive habits.

Below are 15 daily habits that have a positive mental benefit. If we were to do some of these every day, then the cumulative effect would result in greater personal mental healthiness, happiness, and positivity. This would have an amazing long term effect on our lives.

Check out these 15 things and why they are great for us:

8 + hours sleep - getting enough sleep is an important factor for great mental health

Exercise - getting blood pumping releases endorphins (a positive feeling chemical)

Positive input - podcasts and audiobooks that inspire, educate and build you up

Thankfulness - Being thankful helps you to see all that is going well and what you do have

Outside time - time in nature, breathing the air, being around plants

Eating well - Wholefoods rich in nutrients gives your body energy for the day

Giving - love, kind words, gift, help, encouragement, your attention. Giving turns your attention to others and feels great

Positive self-talk - ‘I will do my best, I can give it a go, I can do this’ are all healthy confessions

Forgiveness - ‘forgiving is like setting a prisoner free and realizing that prisoner was you.’

Do what you love - swimming, walking, riding, drawing, playing games…

Time with uplifting friends - find people who don’t bring you down

Use your talents - find out what you are naturally gifted at. Everyone has something, it just may not be obvious ie: listening, patience, helping are talents

Dreaming and planning - dream of something and plan to make it happen

Journaling - this helps to get your feelings and thoughts on a page which can help you process them

Joke, smile, and laugh - find something funny, a joke, comedian, a video and let the laughter flow.

What other things would you add to contribute to your Mental Health?:

Doing fun things with your family

Going on a date with your special someone

Having a cause that you live for daily

Living in the moment, being present

Lift others up with your words

You can download the image or poster and use it as a daily reminder and checklist:

So, would you take the challenge, give it a go and help share this by putting it up at your work, school or home?

Let's help ourselves and kiwis 'Choose 5 A Day' and make a healthy choice for our mental healthiness!

Thanks for reading! - Ferg


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