Sometimes weekends at home are not enough when you need to destress. It’s hard to stop thinking about all the deadlines, meetings, and upcoming projects when you’re holed up in your room, binge watching shows.
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. Mental Health Week was created in 1992 to combat this issue. But people are more stressed than ever, and it’s important to take some time to recharge and take care of yourself outside of one week in October. 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 relax, 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 to unwind. Just pick a weekend to walk and visit the park. Who knows, you might make a new dog friend who’ll make all your stress go away.
3. An afternoon walk at Allan Gardens
Allan Gardens is nature therapy at its finest. The park has a botanical garden and six greenhouses with plants from all over the world. Skip the basic supermarket flowers and surround yourself in a riot of breathtaking fragrances and colours. Their spring flowers are currently in bloom and best of all, the admission is free! You’ll definitely want to stop and smell the roses! Also, the outdoor park has an off-leash dog area for your furry friend.
4. Explore the Art Gallery of Ontario
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.” Who knew one of North America’s largest art museums was right in our backyard. Take some time and enjoy these masterpieces with a friend or simply by yourself!
5. Feel weightless at H20 Float Spa
When I feel stressed and burdened, I find myself craving a weightlessness of sorts. I was surprised to discover a technology that provides you with exactly that and more. H2O Float Spa gives you an opportunity to float in a tub without any interference of sound or light until you start to feel one with the water. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, head over for some much-needed sensory deprivation.
6. Rejuvenating your body at Connect Yoga
If you enjoy a good fitness session to de-stress, Connect Yoga on Danforth Avenue offers a fitness format called tune-up that focuses on your body’s “blind-spots” –– areas that have been overused, misused, or underused –– and uses special yoga tune-up balls and foam rollers to massage these areas. Whether you sign up for a single class or a monthly membership, Connect Yoga provides a variety packages and pricing.
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. Forget your local Tim Hortons and check out Press’ 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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