When people think about making healthy changes, most think about making changes to their physical well-being, like losing weight or exercising more. What about taking steps to improve your mental well-being?
Mental health includes emotional, psychological and social well-being and affects many aspects of your overall health. Below are 15 practical ways to care for your mental health. Pick at least three and give them a try! Try to make them a habit and add more as time continues.
- Practice gratitude. Acknowledge the bright side by keeping a journal where you can write down five things you’re grateful for every day.
- Connect with friends and family. Good relationships are important to your mental health. Make time to text, call, or video chat with the people you care about. If you can visit, even better.
- Go outside. Try to get at least 30 minutes of sunlight (Vitamin D) each day to improve your mood and increase energy. Sunlight not only improves physical wellness, but mental well-being as well.
- Meditate. Set aside a few minutes each day to center yourself, focus on your breathing and relax. Look for an app or online tutorial that offers guidance if you’d like some additional guidance. There are even apps available with calming music or talking that can assist with this.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Try going to bed earlier and setting a consistent sleep schedule. Adequate sleep can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Improve your physical wellness. Focus on your nutrition, and try to exercise at least a few times per week. When your body feels good, it can really boost your mood.
- Try out different ways of coping with stress. Find something that works for you, such as going for a walk, yoga, journaling, deep breathing, listening to music, etc.
- Do something kind. Making someone else happy will make you feel happy, too. Send an encouraging text, mail a note or smile at a passing neighbor. Or, pay it forward by paying for the coffeee for the car behind yours in line.
- Make time for yourself. Set aside time each day to be alone and reset. This could be as simple as setting 30 minutes aside for a bath or reading.
- Do something you enjoy. Practice a hobby, go for a hike, watch a TV show you like, read a book, etc. Prioritizing things you enjoy will make you happier.
- Do a digital detox. Dedicate some time to be screen-free. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed after being on social media, consider testing a period of time where you avoid it. We know there are times, especially if you work on social media, that you can’t get away. But, try to escape for at least an hour each day.
- Take time to laugh. Connect with someone who has a good sense of humor, or watch funny videos online. Laughter can take your mind off the things weighing you down.
- Set a routine. Sticking to a set schedule when it comes to resting, self-care, work, caring for others, etc. will maximize efficiency and increase feelings of stability and security.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs. Don’t rely on these substances to help you cope. Alcohol and drugs actually increase stress and make it harder to concentrate and control your emotions.
- Get help when you need it. Reach out to your doctor or therapist when you need support. Having a trained professional to talk to can help you manage symptoms, re-frame negative thoughts and determine appropriate coping strategies.