Taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. But unfortunately, we can get swept up by life’s challenges and forget how beneficial it is to prioritize habits that serve our happiness, confidence, and overall wellbeing. And while we know sleeping well, exercising, and eating healthy all aids our resiliency and self-care, there are plenty of other habits to improve your mental health. Let’s dive in.
14 Simple Daily Habits To Improve Your Mental Health
1. Practice gratitude
Even when dealing with a stressful situation, practicing gratitude allows you to focus on the positives amid the darkness and provides an outlet for continued hope. The smell of your coffee, a hug from a loved one, or a kind act between strangers are a few simple things that go unnoticed when we’re anxious or upset. Remembering these details each day will shift you to build and maintain a positive mindset.
2. Connect to nature
Getting outside can do wonders for your mood. Even if it’s only 5 minutes a day, looking at the blue skies, receiving your daily dose of sunshine, or connecting to green spaces can alleviate anxiety and depression and improve your mood. You can follow the fun rule of seeing the sky before you look at your phone screen, get outside on your lunch break, or take a short walk after work.
3. Meditate and reflect
Building your self-awareness and increasing your patience and tolerance through meditation is a wonderful habit for your mental health. Each time you meditate, you strengthen your skills to decrease stress, gain new perspectives and reduce negative emotions. Guided meditations, for example, practiced first thing in the morning will help you start your day right before you tackle challenges or your looming to-do list.
4. Focus on what you can control
Many of us seek comfort in holding onto things we have no control over – even when something is taken away from us, we still hold onto its effects emotionally. Unfortunately, this habit only leads to more pain. Instead, try focusing on the only thing you can control; how you respond to the situation and yourself. Additionally, if you trust you’ll be okay, you remove yourself from the outcome and learn that you’ll survive and thrive no matter what happens.
5. Limit social media
While scrolling seems like a habit that helps you decompress from a hard day at work, it can make you feel worse. In fact, it’s an addictive pastime that leads to increased comparison and creates the illusion that you’re further behind than you actually are. Thankfully many apps have built-in features to help you limit your usage, and even more, plugging your phone away from you in the morning will prevent you from grabbing it upon waking up.
6. Engage in self-compassion
If you’re often hard on yourself, set unrealistic standards, and strive for perfection, practicing self-compassion is one of the best habits to improve your mental health. Indeed, it means being kind and understanding towards yourself, especially while facing setbacks and challenges, and understanding that every mistake presents an opportunity to grow and learn.
7. Get plenty of sleep
There’s no argument that sleep is important for your physical and mental health. Too little affects your concentration, performance, emotional regulation, and moods. So, when you can, work towards consistently waking up and going to bed at the same time. Adding a morning and night calming routine will further aid your ability to stick to a schedule.
8. Relax and destress
Too much stress is never a good thing, and relaxation techniques like deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation help activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Even more, research shows prioritizing time to relax and decompress reduces anxiety, depression, panic, and phobia. Whether you practice in the morning or at night, take a few minutes to pay attention to your breath or release tension in your body.
9. Exercise and nourish your body
While you most likely know these habits are vital for your mental health, it bears worth repeating. But instead of forcing yourself to follow a strict routine, intuitively eat and move your body. Listen to your needs and prioritize what feels best for you. For example, if you need a rest day, take one, and if you want to treat yourself, do it. Life is about a balance of adopting healthy habits and enjoying guilty pleasures. Do what resonates with you with your long-term health in mind.
10. Connect with others
Social connection is one of our core needs that improves our physical and emotional well-being. Without it, it leads to increased anxiety, depression, negative thoughts, and further isolation. Therefore, prioritizing spending time with your friends and family will make you feel happier, and if daily face-to-face connection isn’t possible, call or face-time your loved ones for a social boost.
11. Challenge your self-talk
Thoughts are real, but they aren’t true. So, when a negative thought pops up, don’t suppress it. Avoiding a thought can actually make you think about the thought more and can lead to increased self-criticism. Instead, investigate the thought from a third-party perspective and start a thought diary. Journaling about your thoughts will help you find recurring triggers that affect your self-talk.
12. Working towards purpose
It seems like everyone is touting the importance of finding your purpose. And there’s a reason why. Working towards meaning serves as a protective factor and helps you reframe negative situations with hope and increased productivity. If you’re working towards a larger goal in life, you’ll be more resilient when faced with challenges.
13. Seek additional support
The habits so far definitely aid our overall well-being, but they aren’t permanent fixes to any underlying concerns or problems you might be facing. Working with a therapist, for example, can help you learn long-term coping mechanisms and other ways of addressing your triggers. When possible, reach out for additional support.
14. Be kind to yourself
There may be days where you don’t want to practice any of the above habits, and that’s okay. On days like these, prioritize self-care by doing something positive that will cheer you up. Whether it’s sitting in bed and binging Netflix, eating a tub of ice-cream or snuggling your cat while you cry, we all experience days like these. They’re needed. The most important thing is that you’re kind to yourself in the process.
While most factors that affect our mental health are beyond our control, adding these habits to improve your mental health will help you feel better every day. Yet when starting, be mindful of practicing self-love and patience. Start with a few habits and explore what works best for you. Over time, you’ll develop a daily routine that serves your overall well-being.
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