Oh, 2020… There’s not much to say about this hot mess express of a year. During the past dreadfully long several months, COVID-19 has managed to do one thing right: prioritize health as a nation. I’m not talking about physical health alone, I’m referring to mental health as well. Despite the obvious physical health risks brought on by COVID, social isolation and quarantine can also deeply affect one’s mood and mentality. Although we wished farewell to Self-Care Month when Spooky Season arrived, this upcoming Saturday marks World Mental Health Day! That’s why we have taken the time to dive into some of the many ways to nourish your mental health in T-Town!

Body

It is so important to take care of your physical health while working on your mental health as they are deeply intertwined. Contrary to popular belief, taking good care of your body doesn’t have to feel like a chore! There are endless ways to get moving and enjoy yourself in T-Town. Don’t believe us? Check out some of our suggestions below to get the inside scoop on local products and services to improve one’s mental health!

For beginners and pros alike yoga can help manage mental health by keeping your mind at ease and body engaged. There are a few awesome different yoga studios available with enjoyment! Yoga Bliss is a yoga studio just down the street from The Strip that offers a great variety of classes. The selection ranges from entry-level Beginner Fundamentals, specialized classes like Yoga Nidra, and classes like EveryBODY, which is designed to be useful for all who attend. Visit the Yoga Bliss website above for more information on pricing and registration! There are many other nice studios around the city as well including Painted Lotus Yoga and Wellness! For a slightly more intense workout, check out The Barre CodePure Barre, and HotWorx.

Regular exercise and fresh air have the dual benefit of improving your physical health and encouraging growth in your mental state as well. By staying active and keeping your blood flowing, you’re allowing the brain to relax a bit while it is fully engaged in the actions. This kind of mindfulness has been proven to improve focus, mood, and overall mentality throughout the day! Although attending a local gym or taking specialized exercise classes are incredible ways to boost your mental health, there are a plethora of other places around the city to stay active as well.

The Riverwalk along the Black Warrior River is not only a delightful spot to relax, but it is also a prime location for a light jog, intense running session, or quick outdoor workout! Lake Tuscaloosa and Lake Nicol are a great outdoor choice, too, offering a number of activities like hiking, swimming, or even paddleboarding! All of these spots not only offer somewhere to get your blood flowing but also make the perfect setting to relax and meditate by the water. A little fresh air and peace and quiet can help calm the senses.

Spirit 

Another helpful way to manage and monitor your mental health is to treat yourself to a local spa or salon on occasion. By prioritizing self-care in your routine your self-worth and psyche can improve significantly. It is important to know what specific activities help you feel as relaxed as possible, so don’t hesitate to explore all the many local options available! Treat yourself to a day of pampering to commemorate World Mental Health Day at one of the following locations around Tuscaloosa!

For those that enjoy relaxation in a traditional sense, there is nothing better than a classic spa day to show yourself a little TLC. Not only would a massage ease the nerves, but a manicure and a pedicure couldn’t hurt either! In Tuscaloosa, Spa Belle La Vie and Nancy Taylor Day Spa are just a few of the many serene locations where visitors can enjoy massage therapy, beauty treatments, and even salon services. For the guys out there who respect the power of proper pampering, visit Greasy Hands Barbershop for hot shaves, clean cuts, and a relaxing atmosphere!

If pampering is the way to go for you, what better way than discovering a responsible and fun way to clean yourself: soap! The Left Hand Soap Company is a local soap workshop in Downtown Tuscaloosa that produces specialized soaps, shampoos, and other natural cleaning products since 1999. Due to COVID-19, visitors are not allowed to inside the workshop, but products are available for purchase online for pick-up! Visit the Left-Hand Soap Company website to view the various products and swag available.

Mind

Staying focused on a calming and/or mentally-stimulating activity can be an exceptional tool to properly manage your mental health. This includes listening to music, reading a new book, or learning something new! Whether or not you are already passionate about music or books, these activities are widely available for anyone to pick up and enjoy on the daily. Music and books come in a number of different genres and subjects, so there are endless ways to enjoy both activities! Additionally, learning something new stimulates the mind and creates a sense of accomplishment, like learning to ride a bike or finishing a good book!

Stop by the Tuscaloosa Public Library or Ernest & Hadley’s to get lost between the pages of a new book! Both of these spots are home to a wide collection of titles, familiar or new, and are available for all to enjoy. In addition to books, both the library and the bookstore host events/virtual events where patrons can learn more about authors and other literary greats related to the titles they have checked out or would like to explore. Sit back, relax, and keep your mind sharp with a great book!

For those that enjoy turning their records on and sitting idle on their couch for a blissful afternoon, Oz Music is a must-visit shop in Tuscaloosa. Oz Music has all anyone could need to become a major album collector and listener, from record players and cleaning supplies to throwback vinyl and brand new records! CDs are still available for those who prefer that method of jamming their favorite tunes.

Learning is a great way to exercise and stimulate the mind if you are needing a break from your everyday troubles. Learning about something new opens up your mind to new experiences and emotions, which has the dual benefit of improving your mental health and expanding your knowledge base! Three special destinations in town, the Paul R. Jones Gallery, Harrison Galleries, and the Paul W. Bryant Museum,  provide a safe haven to learn about new perspectives and stories you’ve have yet to discover. All of these museums are exciting places to dive deeper into the diverse history and art of this area.

Mental health remains a significant topic in our nation as the unexpected isolation that came with COVID-19 continues to affect mental health. This meaningful topic affects millions and deserves extensive evaluation. Before this can happen, we must not be afraid to seek or offer help. If you or anyone you know is suffering from mental health distress, contact your medical provider for more information on services to help treat these challenges, or learn more at MentalHealth.gov.

Written by: Jamie Hoven & Will Baggett

There’s nothing like the satisfaction of learning a new skill or picking up a new hobby. Doing something not to be the best, but to broaden your horizons and enjoy learning something new, is one of the best feelings in the world! It also has incredible health benefits. Hobbies keep your mind active and creative, and they have been shown to reduce stress and boost cognitive function. From physical activities to new crafts, Tuscaloosa has a variety of classes and resources to help you sharpen your skills. Follow along as we show you the best places in Tuscaloosa to learn something new!

Online Learning

The University of Alabama’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) offers member-centered, member-led courses to mature adults in the Tuscaloosa community. Courses are offered all year and cover topics including history, fitness, music, and movies. Best of all, there are no grades, no homework, and no required degrees! Courses are currently being offered via Zoom, and registration is open on their website.

Pottery Lessons

If you’re interested in learning how to make pottery, look no further than the Beginner’s Wheel Throwing Class at All Fired Up. Learn how to throw clay, use a wheel, and more! Each class costs $60 and includes an hour and a half of instruction and one piece of pottery per person. Check out their website to RSVP! Masks are required at all pottery lessons.

Fitness Class

Pure Barre is a fitness studio that focuses on low-impact, high-intensity movements that are designed to strengthen and tone your body in ways that no other technique can. There are four different kinds of classes, although beginners are encouraged to start with the Foundations course. Pure Barre is currently offering both in-person and online classes, and the weekly schedule can be found on their website!

Axe Throwing

Civil Axe Throwing is Tuscaloosa’s one and only destination for axe throwing. While this unique sport could become a new competitive hobby, it’s also just a fun activity to do with friends! Sessions cost $20 for one hour, and professional instructors are present at all times to ensure that you stay safe and have fun. Reservations can be made online anytime, and walk-ins are welcome Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Meditation Class

Have you ever wanted to try meditating? Give it a try with the Tuscaloosa Zen Meditation Circle! Learn how to practice mediation in the Zen tradition, take part in a shared reading and discussion, and enjoy informal social time afterward! Both seasoned and beginner-level meditators are invited to join. Classes are on Sundays at 9 a.m. and are currently being held via Zoom. Find the link on their Facebook page!

Martial Arts

Martial arts classes are a great way to get active while learning a new and valuable skill. Tiger-Rock Martial Arts prides itself on its ability to increase fitness and artistic precision while encouraging self-empowerment. With three locations across Tuscaloosa, it’s easy to find a convenient location to take a class! Courses are available for both children and adults. Get started on the Tiger-Rock website today!

Tuscaloosa is gearing up for another great weekend in the One and Only! Start your weekend off Friday night by visiting Green Bar! Taking the stage Friday night is Spaceface! San Francisco-based website “Do the Bay” said “In the digital age, there is a new band on the radar every week, and it’s hard to find anything that stands out. But in a pool of up-and-coming bands that blend together, Spaceface has fused psychedelic rock ‘n roll with pop in a way that makes them – dare it be said – unique.” With an intro like that, it would be hard to pass up this one!

Saturday is jam-packed this week with exciting events! Kick off your Saturday at the Living History Festival! Learn the history of Alabama from the characters themselves as history comes alive! You can learn about characters from history such as Mildred Westervelt Warner, Chief Tuskaloosa, and even Ann Hodges – the only person to have an object from space strike them!

If you’re less of a historian and more of a dog person, swing by Sokol Park for their annual Bark in the Park! The Tuscaloosa Association of Realtors will continue their Annual Bark in the Park campaign this year with more excitement than ever! With a parade, demonstrations, and a “’Wag’ Bag” for each dog, this is a perfect event for any dog lover!

Next up is Black Warrior Brewing Company as they present Poses & Pints! Yoga and beer just seem to go together perfectly. So perfect, in fact, that Black Warrior is hosting a class this Saturday! For just $10 you can participate in Yoga and have yourself a pint! The class will be an hour long and all levels are welcome!

Finally, since you can’t finish your weekend on an empty stomach, head to Food Truck Fest! Band of Brothers Brewing Co. will be serving limited run beers, bringing in incredible food trucks, and hosting live music all evening long! The food trucks involved will feature local favorites Local Roots, the legendary Archibald & Woodrow’s BBQ, and JoJo’s Food Trunk! The bands Gio Trio and The Frayed Knot will be laying down the rhythm all night for this awesome event!

We have tons more going on so check out our great upcoming events, and follow us on our social media pages (@visittuscaloosa) for more announcements and events. Tell your friends and we can’t wait to see you around the One and Only Tuscaloosa!

Written By: Barrett Elder – Digital Media Specialist