Mental health is often something that we forget about in our daily lives.
We get so caught up in our work, family, and social obligations that we don’t take the time to care for our mental wellbeing.
However, just like physical health, mental health is something that needs to be maintained on a daily basis.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relates to others, and make choices.” (1)
Unfortunately, mental illness is something that many people suffer from and don’t even realize it.
In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year.” (2)
This statistic is alarming, but there is hope.
There are many things that we can do on a daily basis to improve our mental health.
Here are six daily habits that you can start doing to improve your mental health:
1. Get enough sleep
Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, “about 35.2% of American adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep.” (3)
This can lead to a variety of problems, including mental health issues.
Not getting enough sleep can cause irritability, anxiety, and depression.
It can also make it difficult to concentrate and make good decisions.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, there are a few things that you can do to help.
First, try to establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Secondly, create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you wind down before sleep.
This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or stretching.
Lastly, avoid caffeine and electronics in the evening, as they can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Learn more: How to Sleep Better
2. Eat healthy food
What we eat has a direct impact on our mental health.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “studies have found that certain dietary patterns are linked with a lower risk for depression.” (4)
The truth is eating a healthy diet can also help improve your mood and energy levels.
Some foods that are especially good for mental health include omega-3-rich foods, such as salmon and other fish, nuts, and seeds.
3. Exercise regularly
Exercise is not only good for physical health but mental health as well.
As specified by HelpGuide, regular exercise has a lot of benefits for mental health.
It can help reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. (5)
Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
It can also help improve sleep, increase energy levels, and reduce stress.
If you’re new to exercise, start by adding a few 10-minute walks to your daily routine.
You can also try other low-impact activities, such as yoga or swimming.
As you get more comfortable, you can gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
4. Spend time outside
So, make an effort to spend at least 30 minutes outside every day.
This could mean going for a walk in your neighborhood, hiking in a nearby park, or simply sitting in your backyard.
Take time to appreciate the beauty of nature and let it boost your mood.
5. Connect with loved ones
Social support is essential for mental health.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, “people who have strong connections to family and friends are generally happier and experience fewer mental health problems.” (7)
Make an effort to reach out to your loved ones every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
You can call or text them, video chat, or even socialize in person (while maintaining social distancing, of course).
If you’re not sure how to reach out, try asking how their day was or sharing something that you’re grateful for.
6. Practice self-care
Self-care is any activity that you do to take care of yourself, both physically and mentally.
It’s important to find time for self-care every day, even if you can only spare a few minutes.
Some self-care activities include reading, taking a bath, writing in a journal, or spending time in nature.
Do whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed.
Making even small changes to your daily routine can have a big impact on your mental health.
If you’re looking to improve your mental health, start by establishing a regular sleep schedule, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, spending time outside, connecting with loved ones, and practicing self-care.
These simple habits can go a long way in improving your mental well-being.
Also read: 7 Habits That Affect Your Mental Health