7 Steps to Improve Mental Health on a Daily Basis
By Kay Carter
Kay Carter is a freelance writer and mental health advocate. When she isn’t writing about how to improve your health or the latest wellness trend, she enjoys reading, traveling, and practicing yoga.
Often times, our mental health is the last thing we prioritize when it comes to self-care. A packed work week, stressful situations, and feelings of self-doubt can sometimes seem like too much, but with the right tools and a little self-care, you’ll be able to improve your mental health day by day. Here are seven steps to improve mental health on a daily basis.
Exercise releases endorphins into your body, which reduces stress levels and elevates your mood. Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to go on a run, practice yoga, or bike around your neighborhood. If you truly don’t have 30 minutes, you can incorporate activity into your day by taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, going on an extended walk with your pet, or doing chores around the home.
- Prioritize your sleep
Sleep deprivation can affect your attention, memory and decision-making abilities. To ensure you’re getting a consistent amount of sleep every night, designate a specific time to go to bed each night and try to fall asleep at that time every day. Get into the right sleeping state by leaving your media devices out of the bed and training your mind to think of the bed as exclusively a resting place.
- Be thankful
Practicing gratitude can help you be thankful for what you have and where you’re at in life. Keep a gratitude journal or write down a list of daily things that you’re thankful for. This can promote a deeper appreciation and joy for life.
- Talk to someone
Whether you go to a therapist or talk to a friend or family member on a daily basis, maintaining consistent communication with the people around you is beneficial. Not only can they provide resources for you if you’re struggling, but just knowing that you’re valued by others can help you think more positively about negative situations. Since therapists aren’t biased toward you and your life, they’re probably better able to see what you may not be able to and can help you seek more professional help if necessary.
- Create a peaceful, stress-free space
Having a cluttered home can increase stress and anxiety, foster procrastination habits, and weaken decision-making skills. You can improve your mental health by cleaning up your surroundings and getting rid of clutter and items that don’t bring you joy. Clean up the mail on your counter, purge your fridge of expired food, and clean out your end table junk drawer.
Additionally, you can create a peaceful and relaxing environment by removing all distractions that could be affecting your mental and emotional health (this includes fixing faulty appliances that constantly make noise, removing bright or flickering lights, and lighting candles or using essential oils that have calming scents).
- Eat a good meal
According to Mental Health America, eating well can boost your energy, lower the risk of developing certain diseases, and provide fuel to the brain. A moderate amount of carbohydrates can increase serotonin levels (which have a calming effect on your mood), proteins can increase dopamine and tyrosine (which help keep you alert), and vegetables and fruits can nourish every cell in your body. Try to maintain a diet that contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and fish—these foods in particular can improve mood and restore structural integrity of the brain. If you can, try to avoid foods with high cholesterol, sugar, and saturated fat levels.
- Tell yourself something positive
How you think about yourself—and how you treat yourself—can have an extremely powerful effect on how you feel. Instead of viewing yourself or your life negatively, try finding positive things about your life and promote feelings of self-worth and confidence. For example, instead of calling yourself a failure whenever you make a mistake, remind yourself that failure is a part of learning and you’ll be able to succeed in the future with information you received from failing.
If you are in a crisis, dial 2-1-1, in Connecticut. If you are outside of Connecticut and need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or, text “HOME” to 741741 to get help 24/7 from the Crisis Text Line.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit the Jordan Porco Foundation’s resources page.