10 Things to Do in Toronto When You Need a Mental Health Break

Sometimes weekends at home are not enough when you need to unwind. It’s hard to stop thinking about all the deadlines, meetings, and upcoming projects when you’re holed up in your room, binging on entertainment.

In any given year 1 in 5 people in Canada will experience a mental health problem or illness according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. People are more stressed than ever, and it’s important to take some time to recharge and take care of yourself. After all, how long can you use Netflix as a distraction?

It’s time to try something that brings simple joy. Something that clears up your head and gives you fresh perspective to face next week’s challenges head-on. To make this easy for you, I’ve rounded up a list of 10 activities in Toronto perfect for a mental health break.

1. Paint Nite (drink, paint, connect with fun people)

Some of you may have already heard about Paint Nite, a company that organizes evening events at local bars and cafes. Instead of drinking and dancing with strangers, you get to drink and paint with strangers. With the guidance of a professional artist, you recreate one of their paintings. There our wonderful options to pick from on their website and it costs under $50.

Being creative is good for the soul. It doesn’t matter if you were trying to paint a rabbit and ended up painting a rhino instead (or nothing legible at all). The point is to let go and get immersed in bringing imagination to life. There is something therapeutic about splashing pretty colours on a blank canvas.

2. Pet therapy at High Park

This scenic park just south of Dundas West station has an area dedicated to taking dogs off-leash. If you’re the kind of person who loves to interact with strange dogs (with permission of course) and get to know them, this is your place. Just pick a weekend to walk and visit the park. Who knows, you might make a new dog friend.

3. An afternoon walk at Allan Gardens

This place is nature therapy at its finest in a city. The park has a botanical garden and six greenhouses with plants from all over the world. It’s a riot of fragrances and colours in there. Spring flowers are in bloom right now and the admission is free! If you’re interested, the outdoor park has an off-leash dog area as well.

4. Explore the Art Gallery of Ontario

Photo By Owen Byrne from Ottawa, Canada (Ago) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
From contemporary art and European masterpieces to sculptures and photographs by up-and-coming Canadian artists, this gallery boasts a collection of close to 95,000 works. There is bound to be at least one thing that resonates with you. In the words of Thomas Merton, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” So I suggest you take a day to explore the place all by yourself or with someone you like.

5. Feel weightless at H20 Float Spa

I often find myself craving a weightlessness of sorts when I feel stressed and burdened. I was surprised to discover a technology that provides you with exactly that and more. The H2O Float Spa on the Danforth gives you an opportunity to float in a tub without any interference of sound or light until you start to feel one with water. They have different packages available for different prices. Find out more on their website.

6. Rejuvenating your body at Connect Yoga

For those of you who enjoy a good fitness session to de-stress, Connect Yoga on the Danforth offers a fitness format called Yoga Tune-Up that focuses on your body’s “blind-spots” –– areas that have been overused, misused, or underused –– and uses techniques to massage these areas. From a single class to a monthly membership, Connect Yoga provides a variety of pricing and packages. Check out their website here.

7. Listening to old records, sipping coffee at Press: Books, Coffee, Vinyl

I like places and experiences that transport me. Once in a while it’s good to forget that the world exists, disconnect with everyone else, and reconnect with yourself. If you’re someone who enjoys good music, coffee, and being surrounded by books, visit this small store/cafe close to Main Street station. Shop their collection of secondhand books, sit down with a fresh cup of good coffee, and read away while a Bowie vinyl plays in the background.

8. Jumping at Skyzone trampoline park

Frankly, I don’t think I need to say more after using the word “trampoline.” The child in you probably came to life after reading that. This indoor trampoline park in midtown Toronto has wall-to-wall trampolines where you can go for freestyle jumping or dodgeball, whatever you prefer. It’s not expensive –– only $18 for 60 minutes –– and it’s worth every cent. They have several other options that mix fitness and fun. So go ahead, you deserve it. Jump that stress away.

9. A day at Playdium

If you ever get nostalgic about collecting tickets for rewards and playing old video and arcade games, this is your place to de-stress. It’s a wonderful way to take your eyes off mobile phone screens and keep things simple. The huge playground in Mississauga also houses go-karts, bumper cars, mini-golf, and a baseball dome. But before you head over there, remember to check the website, as some of the activities may be closed for the winter season. Check the website.

10. Tour of Riverdale farms

Speaking of going back to basics, I can’t help but suggest the option of visiting a farm. I have visited a few of them myself, but only in rural areas. People of Toronto need not worry about traveling long distances to visit one. We have a beautiful farm right here in Cabbagetown, complete with a farmhouse and quite a few domestic animals. You can walk in on a weekend and talk to the farmer about horse grooming or goat milking. He’ll be happy to answer your questions. Believe it or not, the smell of farm animals and soil can be refreshing.


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