May 15, 2024

9 Quirky & Offbeat Approaches to Boosting our Mental Well-Being.


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I recently emailed a bunch of my closest friends and asked them to give me examples of unique and off-the-beaten-path activities they pursued for their mental health.

And I was blown away by the answers I got.

While there were a lot of the now-common ones, like going on a digital detox retreat, communing with nature, fostering mindfulness, and having more face-to-face interactions, there were some I had never even heard of.

I went through the list and gave these options my yea or nay. I hope they will inspire you to try something new to destress and start your own mental detox.

9 Quirky & Offbeat Approaches to Boosting our Mental Well-Being:

Pet Therapy with Exotic Animals

One of my friends, who is Australian, said that one should go beyond spending time on a ranch with horses and instead seek out something more exotic. She recently had the option to spend time with exotic reptiles, and said that this provided her with novel stimulation and fostered a unique type of connection that can boost mental well-being.

Exotic reptiles?! What in the what? Just reading her email gave me stress palpitations.

It’s a no for me. But for those who love animals and are okay with the creepy crawlies…maybe you could try this?

Artistic Expression with New Media

This came from a somewhat non-artistic and more of what one may call “geeky” friend. Once I got past the whole “Bro! Look at you being all artistic!” she confided that her therapist asked her to spend some of her rare free time pursuing some kind of art. When the therapist saw my friend’s knee-jerk flinch, he jumped in and recommended off-beat artistic pursuits, like sand animation, digital music composition, and virtual reality painting.

I’d been to a lot of sand animation exhibits in Virginia Beach when I lived in Norfolk, Virginia, so I knew what it was. With my connection to the film business, I also knew about digital music composition. But virtual reality painting was new to me. So I asked her for more details. This is what she emailed back:

“Virtual reality (VR) painting is a cutting-edge artistic form that utilizes VR headsets and controllers to create immersive 3D artworks in a virtual space. Unlike traditional painting, VR painting allows you to ‘paint’ in three dimensions, moving through and interacting with your creations as you go. I painted my version of my dream home in 3-D and it was fantastic.”

Given her “geekiness,” I wasn’t surprised that she picked a digital artistic endeavour.

I asked her if the final output was virtual or real.

“While the final artworks are virtual and can only be directly experienced through VR equipment, you can share them via screenshots and videos. I actually transformed my dream home into a physical model with 3D printing.”

She later added that digital exhibitions and augmented reality displays are a real thing now and they bridge the gap between virtual creativity and physical viewing, allowing a broader audience to appreciate these innovative works in various forms.

Wow, talk about exploring new artistic frontiers that can stimulate creativity and improve mood! This one is a yes for me.

Join a Laughter Club

I mentioned this one to my extended family and a loud burst of laughter ensued. I am guessing I have already started to do my part for Laughter Therapy. However, a little research showed that laughter yoga and laughter clubs are based on the belief that voluntary laughter provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as spontaneous laughter.

This one is a big yea for me.

I continue to provide laughter with my very existence for many around me. So, just living (or laughing) in the moment should do it for me. No need to seek out newer clubs because I am it.

Culinary Therapy

You know how people always say, “I’m not a good cook. But I’m okay with what I make”? Yeah, no. I belong to the category where half the time I don’t know what I cook and I most definitely cannot consume what I make.

But I can see how engaging in cooking classes that focus on the therapeutic aspects of cooking and the process of creating a meal can be meditative, and the results can enhance our sense of mental peace.

Given my exceptional lack of cooking skills, and how all my attempts to make edible food only lead to making a mess that even a cleaning service refuses to mop up, this one is a big no for me.

But I understand why it’s a yes for others.

Participate in a Silent Disco

When my email pinged after midnight a few days back and insomnia made me open it, I jumped up in bed and went: “Whoa! This is my jam!”

There are some people who need a few drinks inside them to begin to move on the dance floor. Well, that’s not me. I only have to think of a song with a good beat in my head and my body will start moving and bumping and grinding all on my own. Wherever I am.

So, engaging in a dance event where music is experienced through headphones rather than played over a speaker system? Yes, sign me up.

While a key aspect of this is that it provides a sense of isolation and individual expression within a crowd, that doesn’t matter to me. Music in my ears and dancing in my feet? Yes, please.

Floatation Tanks

This includes spending time in a sensory deprivation tank and floating in salt water at skin temperature to reduce sensory input to the brain. This can reduce stress, enhance calm, and boost creativity.

But just reading about it gave me the jitters.

Sleep Therapy in Unconventional Settings

Participate in guided sleep experiences set in unusual but soothing environments, like under the stars in a desert or a forest treehouse.


A big part of my mental peace comes from knowing that I am in the safety of my home with a roof over my being, and that I always have access to flushable toilets. So, I plan to watch people camping (or glamping) from my couch while wearing my huggy and holding a bowl of popcorn to munch on. But y’all can give this a shot!

Adventure Therapy

Participate in organized outdoor activities like rock climbing, kayaking, or wilderness survival skills. These experiences can help build resilience and self-esteem, and provide a fresh perspective on daily challenges.

I like this but I’m not sure if I could do all of it.

For example, I love trekking, even though I’m scared of heights. I can always climb up; that part gives me mental peace. But climbing down? That stresses me out because I have to look down. I am also not a swimmer, so water sports are out for me.

There are a few things that could work for me, so this is both a yea and nay for me.

Historical Reenactments

Join a group that performs historical reenactments. This allows us to engage with different times and personas, and can offer an escape and a fun way to learn new coping skills from historical figures and situations.

While this sounds like a lot of effort to pursue mental peace, it also sounds like fun. I smiled when I read this. I feel like this could work for me.

This delightful exploration of off-the-beaten-path mental health activities shared by my friends makes it clear that the journey to mental well-being is as diverse as it is personal. My friends’ quirky suggestions are more than just activities—they are invitations to step outside the conventional, experiment with the unknown, and perhaps stumble upon something unexpectedly perfect for you.

I’d encourage you to pick one that intrigues you and give it a whirl. See where it takes your mind and your mood.

After all, the best way to understand how something will impact us is to experience it firsthand. So, here’s to finding your own quirky path to mental peace and serenity!

And maybe you can share some of your own quirky and offbeat ideas in the comments.


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