Top 15 Ways to Improve Mental Health

Lifestyle, Mental Health

Top ways to improve mental health include practicing mindfulness, focusing on positives, practicing gratitude, learning a new skill, connecting with others, getting enough sleep, engaging relaxation techniques, exercising, eating healthily, and performing acts of giving.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is more than the absence of mental illnesses. Mental health is important at every stage of life, as it affects how we think, feel, and act.

To live the best life possible, there’s a need for action on mental health. For example, you need to improve your mental health to handle stress well, have clearer thinking, have good relationships, work productivity, and realize your full potential.

Therefore the big question is, “how can you improve your mental health?”

This article will answer this question. Specifically, the discussion will reveal 15 ways to improve mental health.

Some of the best ways to improve your mental health include:

  • Practice mindfulness
  • Focus on positivity
  • Practice gratitude
  • Learn a new skill 
  • Set goals and priorities
  • Plan fun activities to look forward to 
  • Connect with other people
  • Get enough sleep
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Exercise 
  • Eat healthily 
  • Give to others
  • Write a letter to future you
  • Get some sunshine
  • Get closer to nature

 

1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness techniques help you focus on the present moment to understand your thought patterns better. 

Mindfulness is like making peace with your body by listening and understanding its every sensation. As you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, you can easily notice when you’re drifting into a mental health problem.

Such awareness helps you identify stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues early and to deal with them better. 

When mindfulness helps you identify that your thoughts are racing faster than they should, you can force yourself to calm down to prevent your thoughts from controlling you. 

Some ways to become mindful include:

  • Make a conscious effort to notice the sensations created by the world around you (the food you eat, the feeling of the air as you walk, etc.).  
  • Identify specific thoughts
  • Free yourself from the past and stop pre-living the future.

 

2. Focus on PositivityGlass half empty

Positive thinking helps with stress management, and effective stress management improves mental health. 

Focusing on positivity does not mean ignoring negative situations. Instead, it means approaching negative situations more positively.

You may have heard of the “half-filled glass” psychology test. People who focus on positivity will answer that the glass is half-filled, while those who focus on negativity will answer that the glass is half-empty.

While both groups are correct, their different outlooks affect how they approach situations and the effect those situations will have on them.

For example, the positive person focuses on the bright side of things and finds peace in the situation (e.g., there is still water in the glass to drink). 

On the other hand, the negative person looks to find the dark cloud behind every silver lining and starts worrying about what is missing (e.g., some water is missing from what could have been a full glass).

Some ways to focus on positivity include:

  • Stop magnifying the negative aspect of a situation while filtering out the positives.
  • Do not automatically blame yourself when bad things happen.
  • Do not expect the worst to happen (especially when there’re no facts to that effect)
  • Do not make a big deal out of minor issues.

 

3. Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude means being thankful for the good things in your life. It helps you stay positive, manage stress, and improve your mental health.

Stress and negativity can make you feel like there’s no good thing in your life. Thus, consciously noting the good things in your life and being genuinely thankful for them can help you arrest negativity. 

These “good things” can include having a nice meal, a roof over your head, or supportive family and friends. Be specific when reminding yourself of things you are grateful for. Replay them in your mind or write them down.

You’ll see life differently when you remind yourself of those things you are grateful for. You’ll begin to see some bright spots where you used to see only thick gloom, and you’ll be less stressed.

 

4. Learn a New Skill

Learning new skills improves cognitive skills, increasing mental well-being and happiness.

Learning a new skill changes the physical structure of the brain. It stimulates the brain neurons, forming more neural pathways. This improves cognitive skills like better attention, comprehension, and memory.

The improved cognition that follows learning a new skill increases mental well-being and happiness as it boosts your self-confidence and helps you build a sense of purpose.

Learning something new engages the brain and distracts it from concentrating on stressful situations. This arrests negative thoughts and reduces stress, improving one’s mental well-being.

Learning something new must not be pursuing new qualifications. Simply find activities that you enjoy. It could be learning to cook a new dish, trying a new hobby, etc.

 

5. Set Goals and Priorities

Trying to do too much can easily overwhelm you, creating unnecessary stress and worry. Setting goals and priorities helps you focus on specific tasks at specific times, helping you avoid task overload and associated stress.

With clear goals and priorities, you’ll know what to do at a particular time. This helps you avoid packing too much into a particular time. 

You’ll get a dopamine boost as you accomplish your planned tasks, making you happier. Also, since everything is planned out, you’ll worry less about tasks you are yet to do.

 

6. Plan Fun Activities to Look Forward to 

Looking forward to doing something you enjoy gives a sense of hope, making it easier to go through difficult situations.

Hope is a powerful motivation. Knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel pushes you to reach the end. However, when you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, you won’t be motivated to walk further, and the dark space becomes more annoying.

Life throws different things at us. However, looking forward to doing something you enjoy can help you cope better with difficult situations.

However, planning fun activities to look forward to is not limited to fun getaways. You may plan for small pleasures like having a cup of tea, seeing a movie, having a dance class, etc.

 

7. Connect with Other People

Humans are social creatures that thrive on connections with others. So, building good relationships helps you improve your mental health.

Good relationships give you a good social support system. Strong relationships provide emotional support. It also gives you an opportunity to share positive experiences and support others.

You can build good relationships by staying in touch with family members and friends. However, do more than stay in touch using technology. Visit your loved ones and spend some time together.

You may also join a group focused on something you love or volunteer for a local organization.

 

8. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is as important to mental health as it is to physical health. Research shows that people who do not get enough sleep are 2.5 times more likely to have mental distress.

The brain processes a lot, including events, sensations, and emotions. Cells in the body communicate with each other through connections called synapses. These connections can get overloaded, making you feel mentally drained.

Sleep helps in the restoration of the function of synapses. It’s why you’ll feel refreshed after a good night’s sleep.

Sleep also affects mood. People who routinely do not get enough sleep are more likely to get angry, feel frustrated, act impulsively, become depressed, etc.

So, ensure you get at least eight hours of quality sleep every night. Some tips to improve your sleep include:

  • Reduce coffee intake in the evening, as it would keep you from falling asleep. 
  • Reduce blue light exposure from digital devices just before bedtime because the light makes it difficult to fall asleep.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet and comfortable
  • Be active during the day, as it will help you fall asleep faster when it’s night.

 

9. Engage in Relaxation Techniques

Engaging in relaxation techniques means doing certain things to produce your body’s natural relaxation response. This improves mental health by slowing down your breathing, reducing blood pressure, helping muscles relax, etc.

The human body heals naturally, even from mental and emotional stress. However, the natural healing process may take too long, leaving you with racing thoughts, anxiety, and stress.

Interestingly, you can fast-track the process by doing some things that quickly calm the body and mind down. These include such practices as deep breathing exercises and self-hypnosis.

 

10. Exercise

It’s no news that regular exercise is good for your physical health. According to the American Society of Family Physicians, physical activity is also good for mental health as it helps manage stress.

Exercising releases feel-good hormones that boost your mood. Being physically active also takes your mind off worries, helping you break the cycle of negative thoughts that can lead to anxiety and depression

So, exercise for at least 30 minutes daily to improve your mental health.

Know that exercising does not mean you must spend time in a gym. You may do brisk walking, rope jumping, stretches, etc. If you have some health issues, speak to your primary care provider about exercises you can do.

 

11. Eat Healthily 

What you eat affects your mood as there is a strong connection between our gut and brain. Gut bacteria produce neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate physiological and mental processes (including mood).

Good nutrition promotes the production of “good” bacteria, which positively affects the production of mood-stabilizing chemicals. Also, poor nutrition negatively affects the production of the “good” bacteria, stifling the production of the chemicals and setting you up for more mood swings.

Thus, for better mental health, eat healthy meals. A balanced diet will help you get the nutrients you need for your brain to produce more mood-stabilizing chemicals.

Some mood-boosting foods to include in your diet include berries, whole grains, and fatty fish (like salmon). Some foods to worsen mood issues includes sugar and refined carbs.

 

12. Give to Others

Giving and kindness improve mental health because it gives you a feeling of purpose and self-worth and helps you connect to other people.

When you give to others, not only do you help them, but you also help yourself. Giving stimulates the brain’s reward center as it releases feel-good chemicals. So when you help others, you feel joyful.

Acts of kindness also help you connect with more people, increasing your support network.

 

13. Write a Letter to Future You

Writing a letter to your future self will help you process your emotions and ease pent-up frustration or anger.

Let the letter speak to your future self as you would speak to a confidant. Explain where you are in life, what you are battling with, and where you hope to be in the future.

While a mental illness can have your thoughts all over the place, a letter to your future self helps you bring together your thoughts. This is because you need to think well to write a letter.

To write the letter, you’ll also have to engage your emotions and write them down without inhibitions. This releases pent-up emotions and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. 

 

14. Get Some Sunshine

Exposure to sunshine improves the brain’s production of serotonin – a brain chemical that’ll boost your mood and make you feel calm.

Studies have found that mental health stress is more prevalent during seasons with reduced sun exposure. Also, sun exposure helps people with mood swings, anxiety, and depression.

Thus, to improve your mental health, get more sunshine. You may opt for phototherapy to compensate for reduced sun exposure.

 

15. Get Closer to Nature

Spending time in nature usually has a calming effect. This is because, in nature, you’ll find opportunities for self-reflection and introspection that can still racing thoughts.

Research into ecotherapy (or nature therapy) has found that spending time in nature helps with mild to moderate depression. When you are out in nature, and you tune your senses to what’s around you, you break the cycle of negative thoughts, and you feel calm.

There are different ways to get closer to nature, including walking on a nature trail, sitting under a tree, bird watching, etc.

 

Takeaway – Improve Your Mental Health and Achieve Your Full Potential

Mental and emotional health problems are more common than many people realize. Mental Health America reports that nearly 1 in 5 Americans have a diagnosable mental health condition annually.

Interestingly, you can take steps to improve your mental health so you do not develop any serious conditions. The fifteen steps mentioned above are some of the top ways to improve mental health.

Want to learn more about attaining physical and mental health? Zoppler is the ultimate physical and mental health positivity hub.

We cover various lifestyle topics, including how to live a healthy lifestyle, how to get fitter, the best workout plans, etc.

Zoppler will help you get and stay healthy.

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