10 Things to Do in Austin this weekend to benefit your mental health
1. Food Truck Frenzy
Food fills the soul (I mean eat, pray, love clearly defined this right?). Venture out this weekend to try a new food truck…or a few. As a recovering binge eater I know it is in my best interest to eat as I feel hungry, restricting is not a healthy alternative to bingeing. For those battling depression it is easy to lock yourself up for days and avoid taking care of yourself. Or opposite, you eat and eat and eat uncontrollably (I know this feeling all too well). For me, getting out to try a new food or new place helps me avoid ordering a huge amount of food and allows me to grab something I’ve been craving.
Burro Cheese Kitchen
1221 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
These are the grilled cheese of your dreams.
2. Book a Photoshoot
Our self esteem is often a direct link to our overall happiness. Having your photo taken leaves many people feeling self conscious or nervous, BUT let me tell you how amazing you feel once you get those stunning pictures back! Austin is FULL of skilled photographers including boudoir, lifestyle, and even headshot experts.
I recommend Alicia in a HEARTBEAT! She is a fellow Society of Women Entrepreneurs Austin member, an all around badass chica, and a super talented photographer. Her editing style left me speechless with the crisp, bright images. However, best of all was my actual experience with her. Alicia brings music, she’ll make you laugh, pose you to capture the good angles, and wants you to have fun during the actual shoot because ladies…it shows in the images! Never in my life have I received images back (quickly at that) and felt so beautiful.
3. Comedic Relief
Laughter fixes everything, right? If there is ONE thing I love to show off about Austin it is the theatre of comedy down on sixth street, known as Esther’s Follies! If you love SNL skits, magicians, and political humor then this will be your jam.
Insider scoop: No need to purchase the reserved seats if you are going to get there 30-45 minutes early and have a party smaller than 5 people. Also, if you don’t want to be in the show… don’t sit in the front three rows, hah!
4. Get some Sun
Walk down the boardwalk, take a hike in Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, or lay out by the pool (it’s only September in Texas, I promise it is still warm enough). Vitamin D has been linked to an increase in positive mood, boost in overall brain function, and generally improve wellbeing!
Fun fact: Vitamin D deficiencies are becoming more and more common.
5. Start with Coffee
Did you know that coffee consumption is linked to lower rates of depression? While I am not a huge coffee drinker myself, simply getting out of the house to work from a cutely crafted shop always increases my productivity and mood. Whether you head to the cozy booth in the corner to catch up on some work tasks or to listen to your favorite new podcast is up to you!
Starbucks at Mueller
1801 E. 51st Street Bldg A 190 Austin, TX 78723
Starbucks is a fairly obvious choice however this location is my absolute favorite with long cushioned benches and ceiling to floor windows across two sides. Bonus: Mueller Market District is close by!
Mozart’s Coffee Roasters
3825 Lake Austin Blvd Austin, TX 78703
If you’re trying to change it up, come enjoy a coffee and pastry outdoors on the deck overlooking Lake Austin. Bonus: They have easy parking!
1300 S. Congress Ave Austin, TX 78704
If you’re just visiting Austin I definitely recommend scooting on down to South Congress to enjoy Jo’s Coffee. Why? The infamous ‘I love you so much’ wall and an easy way to grab coffee + go explore. Theres a small outdoor area to enjoy your drink and often times there is an event going on out back, I went to a dog friendly event with Zilker Bark photography here and it was SO fun.
6. Keep Your Hands Busy
Nothing to open your mind like diving into a new task. When my hands are busy my mind doesn’t wander!
2058 S. Lamar, Austin, TX 78704
If you have any interest in making your own jewelry I highly recommend hitting up this quaint little shop. Learn how to bead, form metal, or even take an intro to wiring workshop! One of my favorites is the Mala making course.
1200 E 11th St. #105 Austin, TX 78702
Build a terrarium! I have been dying to do this and I love this company because you can get hands on with friends or do a solo build. While I have not yet experienced Plant Party the reviews are stellar so I feel good about suggesting it.
7. Call a Therapist
As many of you know, I am a therapist in training at Texas State University so this suggestion was a must. While I will not add suggestions to this idea I will add ways to find a counselor that matches YOUR needs. The Austin area is flooded with helpers so it is okay to be picky!
The fastest way to find possible matches is to search psychologytoday.com. Utilize the search tabs on the side to look for someone who will accept your insurance, specializes in your population (ex: lgbtqia+, teens, mothers, anxiety sufferers, etc.), and more. Once you pick out a few contenders go look at their personal websites!! This will give you a feel for their style of therapy (do they like to utilize expressive arts or is talk therapy their wheelhouse?). Any therapist should combine your needs and their own beliefs on how people change, but unfortunately not all licensed professional counselors are good counselors. Next, give them a call to set up an intake appointment! Just because you go once does not mean you have to go back to that same counselor if you were not a good fit. Trust me, I have run away from many before.
8. Find a Festival
You’re in luck! Austin always has some sort of big event or festival going on. They range from music fests like Austin City Limits to celebrity infested events such as South by Southwest to food extravaganzas such as Oyster Fest or the Mac & Cheese Festival to even small street festivals with tons of vendors so you can spend money on one of a kind items.
Pecan Street Festival
Taking over 6th Street (the old Pecan Street) September 22nd 11 am- 10 pm and 23rd 11 am- 8 pm. Rain or Shine!
I’ve personally attended this festival twice and they have a little bit of everything: music, food trucks, and shopping oh my. My absolute favorite vendors have been the toe ring lady and the homemade apple butter, nom.
9. Try a New Workout Class
Get moving and increase your heart rate to get an extra dose of oxygen shot to your brain. We all know exercise is great for mental AND physical health, but it can be mundane or even a hated task. So why not try something new? Now a days they have goat yoga, zumba, barre, and even indoor tracks to run to your hearts little desire.
Studios across the Austin area
This is a total body workout that focuses on small movements, the use of bands & balls, and getting that total body workout to jammin’ music. I went to a Pure Barre studio in New Braunfels for a few months and I LOVED that the classes were not intimidating, there were modifiers, and it kicked my booty!
10. Give You
Give yourself to a cause near and dear to your heart in time, words, and presence. One of the most effective ways to boost my mental health has been volunteering. Whether it be a one-day activity or a year long commitment I have NEVER regretted giving myself and my time to help others.
Disclaimer: Volunteering is quite personal so you need to choose a cause YOU feel passionate about
Located right outside of Austin at 119 Ave G, Marble Falls, TX 78654
The Phoenix Center inspires hope, health and healing by providing the highest level of mental health care to children and their families through innovative trauma-informed therapy and education. Having training in mental healthcare I have chosen to volunteer as a counselor at Camp Phoenix each summer (you can read about my experience by clicking here), however there are ample other opportunities like fundraising, providing group meals, writing newsletter articles, helping them build the new campus, and more.
11. Enter an Immersive Selfie Experience
If you have a friend with a camera OR even a selfie stick, it is time to head to some of the fun pop-up interactive art exhibits while they are still here. Have you seen those selfies people post in bathtubs full of sprinkles or with a 15 foot donut wall behind them? Yeah, this is one of those places. If you’re ready to feel like a kid again, RUN.
At ‘720 Red River St. Austin, Texas 78701’ through October 21, 2018.
The Art of Ice Cream
Tickets currently available through December 2018, located at 3208 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX.
If you found this blog searching for answers to thoughts of suicide or depression please contact a counselor, call the appropriate hotline, or reach out to a friend. If this is an emergency and you need immediate assistance please call 911.
Suicide Hotline: call (1-800) 273-8255
Depression Hotline: text CONNECT to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor