With long Chicago winters and the chaos and bustle of city life, we’re often stuck indoors, surviving on fantasies of summertime sunshine or a place to find peace and quiet. When you’re cooped up inside binge watching Netflix or crammed in on a crowded bus browsing social media, it can be all too easy to put off important self-care items on your wellness routine. Over time, you can get caught in a somewhat stagnant daily grind and gradually fall out of sync with yourself on a deeper level.
As we head into the beautiful summer weather in Chicago, make sure you take some time to check in with yourself, regain a clear perspective, and center yourself once again, so you’re ready to make the most of each happy moment the summer has to offer.
Ready to reconnect with yourself? Here are five things you can do in the Ravenswood area of Chicago if you’re in search of a little emotional pick-me-up.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation
Loosely put, mindfulness is a self-aware and distraction-free experience of the present moment, which is naturally associated with meditation. Because meditation compels you to remove all distractions and sit still with nothing more than an awareness of your self and the space, meditating makes an easy place to start on your journey toward mindfulness.
Mindfulness meditation, or meditating for mindfulness, is a common means of training yourself to practice mindfulness in your everyday, which can help you become more in tune with your body and mind while helping you regulate your emotions and focus.
While mindfulness provides an internal and external awareness that allows you to enjoy each moment more fully, meditating, in turn, offers you an additional long list of both mental and physical health benefits, from reducing your risk of depression and stabilizing your mood to lowering your stress levels and helping you live longer.
Though mindfulness and meditation aren’t exclusive to the Ravenswood area, there are locations around the neighborhood that occasionally offer free mindfulness workshops you can check out.
Walk it Off
If you’ve been feeling a little out of sorts or simply a bit mentally scattered, try taking a walk to improve your mood. Simply by increasing the amount of physical activity in your life, which is as easy as taking a 30-minute walk on a regular basis, you can experience any number of both physical and psychological benefits.
Adding a walk to your daily routine can help you:
- Sleep better, which can help you focus and experience less anxiety
- Feel happier by releasing hormones that both energize and uplift your spirits
- Manage anxiety and stress by releasing cortisol
- Focus and calm your busy mind
- Improve your self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as
- Reduce the risk of depression, and more.
Thankfully, Ravenswood offers you a nice blend of beautiful residential streets and a choice of several nearby parks, like Ravenswood Manor Park, for you to stroll through, so take some time to enjoy some fresh air!
Rediscover your Inner Bookworm
Similar to the benefits of item #1, hunkering down with a good book has a long list of mental health benefits that might help you feel more connected to the world and maybe a little less grim about your circumstances. When reading, you can’t help but put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist, following along their thought processes and feeling alongside them on their journey, which, in turn, helps you gain a clearer perspective and see from another’s point of view later on.
That’s one of the reasons why reading can help:
- Reduce your stress levels
- Heighten your ability to empathize with others, which can improve the quality of your relationships
- Increase your self-awareness, an important element of practicing mindfulness
- Keep your brain functioning fully as you age, and more.
So if you’ve been feeling listless lately, take a stroll down Montrose to Ravenswood Used Books, a local gem for readers of all ages, and stock up on a few good reads. Best of all: You can rejoice over both shopping locally and saving some damage to the environment by buying your books used.
Talk Through Your Troubles
Sometimes, when your head’s full of busy chatter and worrisome thoughts, you might need some help clearing your mental space, getting your life back on the track you want, or even grounding yourself again, something more than what a nice walk can provide. No matter how big or small, if something’s constantly weighing on you or making you doubt yourself, it’s worth talking about.
In fact, studies show simply putting your emotions into words has vast psychological benefits.
That’s why having someone you can talk to like a sounding board—someone you can trust with your thoughts and whose advice you’ll take to heart—can be highly effective in managing your stress levels, mental health, and emotional wellbeing. This is especially effective if the person you’re talking to is a trained mental health professional who’s able to help you understand and address a wide range of potential concerns.
Speaking to a professional can help you:
- Process your emotions and control your reactions to problems that arise in your life and everyday stressors
- Identify and understand why you react how you do in certain situations
- Establish emotional wellness in your daily life
- Keep you moving ahead in your life and progressing toward your goals by holding you accountable
- Find your passion and purpose
- Address any of your current problems and figure out the appropriate steps to take toward a solution, and more.
Talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy or simply therapy, may carry a stigma and have you mentally defending yourself initially, but keep in mind that therapists are not there to diagnose and prescribe you. They’re there to help keep you feeling and functioning at your best, so you can live your life to the fullest.
Located in the Ravenswood area of Chicago, the Bergen Counseling Center has trained therapists who are ready to help you work through any obstacles you’re facing and get back on track in your life. If you think you’re ready to talk things out with a professional, try filling out the contact form on the right and scheduling a free 15-minute phone consultation to see if therapy’s right for you!
Express Yourself Creatively
Whether your art is something drawn or painted, captured in print or photograph, danced or acted out on a stage, or played on an instrument, there are numerous emotional and mental health benefits to expressing yourself creatively.
Doing creative activities can help:
- Relieve stress and symptoms of anxiety
- Improve mental health conditions and cognitive functions like problem-solving abilities and memory recall
- Create a heightened connection between the two sides of your brain
- Increase understanding of your self and others
- You overcome trauma and process your negative emotions more easily, and more.
Regardless of what form your art takes, simply expressing yourself might be just what you need to start feeling positive about your life again, and thankfully, Ravenswood has it all. If you’re interested in arts ranging from ceramics and metalsmithing to drawing and painting, Lillstreet Art Center in Ravenswood offers resources and support for artists of all ages and skill levels. If music’s more your medium, try taking classical music classes at Access Contemporary Music.
Still trying to find something to help you stay centered? Explore the many benefits and types of yoga.