It’s hard to know exactly how to improve your mental health, but implementing some good mental health habits is a good place to start. What improves one person’s mood might not help someone else, so as you learn more about your mental health, try out different self-care habits to see which ones make you feel better — and which ones you can see yourself doing regularly.
If you’re looking for ways to improve mental health, here are a few healthy habits to help you find what works for you.
1. Drink Water
First things first: hydrate! The health benefits of drinking water can’t be overlooked. In fact, hydration is tied to your physical health more than you might think. It keeps your skin healthy, increases energy levels, aids digestion, and treats (and prevents) headaches, just to name a few. How does that help your mental well-being? Well, if your body feels good, your mind does too!
Leave water by your bed at night to drink before you get up to set yourself up for a great day.
2. Eat Nutritious Foods
Again, a healthy body means a healthy mind. For example, fruits and vegetables contain tons of vitamins that improve your overall health. A balanced diet that includes all the nutrients your body needs ensures that your mind is running smoothly, ultimately improving your emotional health. If you’re struggling with a health condition, your doctor can provide a diet to help your physical health.
3. Eat Food You Love
Healthy and nutritious foods help your overall well-being, but make sure to eat the foods you love, too! Mostly everything is okay in moderation, especially if it makes you happy. There’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself and having your favorite dessert or snack every once in a while.
4. Exercise Daily
Regular exercise is one of the best mood boosters. Physical activity releases endorphins (the “feel good” hormone) and serotonin. It reduces stress, improves sleep quality, and makes you feel more alert and energetic — improving your mental health! The more endorphins circulating throughout the body, the better you feel about yourself — which leads directly to higher self-esteem levels over time.
5. Set Up (and Stick to) a Sleep Schedule
Getting enough sleep is a key factor to improving your mental health. Setting up a sleep schedule can ensure you’re going to bed at the right time to get the correct hours of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep makes you feel well-rested and ready to take on the day.
6. Take a Break From Social Media
Social media is a great way to connect with friends and family, but it can also harm your mental health. People only post what they want to show the world, meaning it is a highly curated and intentional look into their lives. This leads to people comparing themselves to others, even though what they’re comparing themselves to isn’t the whole truth.
Social media is a stressor for many people, even if they don’t realize it. Take a break from social media every once in a while for more positive mental health.
7. Stop Scrolling: Set Down Your Phone
Too much screen time can negatively impact your wellness, whether you’re on social media or not. Scrolling on your phone (no matter what you’re doing) can negatively impact your everyday life — especially at night. Mobile phones emit a blue light that causes problems by affecting your sleep and potentially your eyesight with constant exposure.
8. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Comparing yourself and your accomplishments to what others are doing is a surefire way to bring down your mental health. Everyone is different, and that’s okay! Focus on what you can do to improve yourself, not what others are doing.
9. Do Something You Enjoy Every Day
It doesn’t matter what it is, but doing something you love is a great way to improve your mental health. It provides something to look forward to, even if it’s different day-to-day. While it’s not a cure for a mental illness, doing something you love every day helps boost your mood.
10. Connect With Others
It’s important to connect with your loved ones regularly, whether through phone calls, texts, or in person. It’s simple; spending time with someone you care about – whether it’s a friend, significant other, or family member – is an instant mood booster.
11. Create a Daily Routine
For some, a daily routine can eliminate stressors. When you don’t have to choose a wake-up time, when to go to the gym, when to clean the kitchen, etc., you don’t drain your energy with these decisions.
A daily routine doesn’t work for everyone. For others, the monotony of a strict routine actually depresses their mood. Try different daily habits to see which helps your mental health more.
12. Clean Your Space
A messy environment can negatively impact your mental health. While most people don’t like cleaning, taking the time to tidy up your living space, whether it’s your whole home or just a room, can clear your mind and ease stressors.
13. Get Some Fresh Air
Nature is a powerful tool in improving mental health. Take time on a regular basis to get outside for some fresh air. Go for a walk or simply sit outdoors. It’s especially helpful if you can get direct sunlight, since sun rays provide your body with Vitamin D.
14. Prioritize Alone Time
While spending time with others helps mental health, so does alone time! Everyone needs time to themselves every once in a while, especially introverts who feel drained from too much social interaction. Make it a priority to take time for yourself when you need it and prevent feeling drained or burned out around others.
15. Watch Your Favorite Show or Movie
Sometimes, after a bad day, all you need is to watch your favorite tv show or movie to boost your spirits. It doesn’t matter if it’s a comfort show that you’ve seen a million times or a new show you enjoy; it still releases endorphins.
16. Do a Puzzle
Puzzles are a great way to destress while working your mind at the same time! They help by engaging your brain while you relax at the same time. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment after you finish is a great dopamine hit.
17. Reduce Caffeine
Drinking coffee (and caffeine in general) every day is part of many people’s daily routine. However, it may be surprising to learn that the caffeine in coffee can actually make anxiety symptoms worse.
If anxiety is harming your mental health, try reducing the amount of caffeine you have on a daily basis. Even switching your caffeine source from coffee to more natural caffeine, such as tea, could potentially improve your mental health.
18. Try a New Hobby
New hobbies can be great for mental health. Learning something new improves your brain function, and the new hobby improves your happiness if you enjoy it! Try a few new activities to find one that sticks. Take up gardening, audition for local theater, try photography, or go to a yoga class (just to name a few).
19. Learn a New Skill
Learning any new skill improves yourself and your mental health. Start practicing something new that helps your work life or simply find a skill you enjoy! Take formal classes or head to YouTube for tutorials and teach yourself. You can learn how to knit, play a new instrument, cook a new cuisine, and more!
20. Learn a New Language
Learning a new language can be fun and exciting while improving your knowledge and brain power. You don’t need to go to formal classes; apps like Duolingo make learning a new language fun by turning them into games or streaks that keep you coming back.
21. Limit Alcohol
Like caffeine, too much alcohol intake can negatively impact your mental health. It’s a depressant, so reducing the amount of alcohol you drink improves your mood.
Looking for a new habit? Writing in a journal every morning has a lot of benefits. You can use it to log your dreams if you remember them, keep track of your emotions, talk through problems with yourself, or simply write things down that you want to get off your chest.
Reading every day is a great way to improve your mood and enhance your mind. Whether it’s a nonfiction memoir or a graphic novel, reading improves your brain function.
24. Repeat Positive Affirmations
It may seem silly at first, but repeating positive affirmations to yourself can boost your mood and build your confidence. Remind yourself of the best things about yourself and what makes you special. Even if you don’t believe what you say at first, repeating these statements will help you start to believe it!
25. Organize Your Space
It doesn’t have to be a huge change, but organizing your space can help unclutter your mind, too! Whether it’s your closet or your desk at work, an organized space helps your overall mental health.
It’s true; laughter is the best medicine! Make sure you laugh at least once every day. Laughing releases those “feel good” emotions that improve your mood. Even if it’s not genuine, fake laughing can help, too! Sometimes the best way to improve your mental health is to trick your brain.
Just like laughing, smiling is an instant mood booster — even if you have to fake it. Take time to smile every day, and your brain will recognize the action as a good mood and release the right endorphins.
28. Try a Skincare Facemask
It’s a self-care cliche, but that’s because it works! Applying a facemask improves your skin to make it feel healthy and clear, but it also forces you to take time for yourself! When you have a facemask on, you typically have to sit still for 5-10 minutes while it’s on. Take this time to enjoy the quiet, listen to music, watch TV, or just relax!
If facemasks aren’t your thing, you can also try a hair mask. They help your hair while once again helping you carve time out for yourself.
29. Make Your Bed
Who doesn’t love coming home to a crisply made bed at the end of a long day? While making your bed in the morning may feel like a chore some days, it’s worth it for the feeling you get when you go to bed at night. Plus, making your bed is a great start to a daily routine.
30. Get Ready Each Day
Stick to your daily routine every day, whether you have plans or not. Get up, shower, brush your hair, get dressed, brush your teeth, and get ready for the day, even if you plan on staying in. These simple steps help prepare you for the day ahead.
31. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude helps keep your spirits up. Take time every day to think about all the things you’re grateful for — and bonus points to you if it’s something new each day! Gratitude helps fight off negative feelings from becoming overwhelming, and it’s also a great thing to add to your daily journal!
32. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing helps you decompress, whether you’re in the middle of a hard situation or not. Even if you’re not feeling overwhelmed or anxious, make time every day (or a couple of times a day) for some deep breaths, and you will feel the benefits.
33. Check In With Yourself
Whether you keep a journal of your daily thoughts or not, regularly check in with yourself and your emotions. Have you been having more good days than bad? What stressors are in your life right now? Does anything help reduce those anxious feelings? Answering these types of questions helps you understand what triggers certain emotions and what you can do to combat them.
34. Soak Your Feet After a Long Day
If you’ve had a long and stressful day, take 15 to 20 minutes and soak your feet or take a warm shower. The benefits include but are not limited to, improving sleeping habits, decreasing any aches or pains, and increasing energy levels/moods. A lot of time, our stress gets stored throughout our body, especially in our shoulders, back, or feet! As a result, soaking our feet with warm or hot water or taking a nice warm shower might just be the remedy your body needs after a long day!
These healthy habits are great, but they are no substitute for talking with a professional. Seeing a professional counselor can provide accurate insight into your feelings and emotions. They can help you understand why you feel certain emotions when you do and learn healthy coping skills for when you feel a certain way.
If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or any mental illness, hope is here.
Improve Your Mental Health With Meridian
These good mental health habits are great ways to navigate toward more positive mental health. However, it’s important to remember that these tips can’t cure a mental illness. If you’re struggling with your mental health, the compassionate care providers at Meridian HealthCare can talk with you about your problems and determine a personalized treatment program for you. Contact us today to learn more or schedule an appointment.