12 Powerful Self-Care Habits to Improve Mental Health
In this article, 12 self-care habits to improve mental health, I’m covering a dozen self-care habits that we can practice to improve our mental health and overall well-being.
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Why is Good Mental Health so Important?
Mental health is essential because it’s vital to our overall health.
Just like physical health, mental health can impact our ability to function in daily life.
When we’re mentally healthy, we can cope with stress, build positive relationships, and make good decisions. Conversely, poor mental health can lead to substance abuse, relationship difficulties, and chronic health conditions.
Giving our mental health the attention it deserves is crucial to leading a happy and healthy life.
That’s where good self-care comes in.
How Can Self-Care Help Mental Health?
Engaging in a self-care routine has been clinically proven to reduce or eliminate anxiety and depression, reduce stress, increase happiness, and more.
It can help you adapt to changes, build strong relationships, and recover from setbacks.
Creating healthy habits through self-care can help maintain or improve mental health.
Alright, alright, alright! Now on to the good stuff.
12 Self-care habits to improve mental health:
12+ Self-Care Habits to Improve Mental Health
If you’re interested in improving your mental health, these self-care routine ideas can be started TODAY to help improve your mental health.
1. Talk to Someone.
First on the list of self-care habits to improve mental health is to reach out and get help!
When struggling with our emotional and mental health and issues going on in our lives that feel heavy, it’s good to reach out for help.
This could be a trusted friend, family member, counselor, or therapist.
There’s nothing like a good heart-to-heart with a trusted friend to help ease life’s heaviness and help us understand that we are not alone.
Working with a therapist is a powerful way to improve mental health!
I have worked with a therapist off and on for many years and highly recommend it!
Here’s how to find the right therapist for you.
2. Move Your Body.
We’ve all heard it a million times, but exercise is a great way to boost your mood and ease anxiety.
You don’t have to join a gym or start training for a marathon; just getting out of the house to take a short walk around the block counts as exercise!
It’s okay to start small and work your way up to more.
The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health:
- Relieving stress
- Lifting mood
- Helps with sleep
- Can alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety
Movement doesn’t have to mean going to the gym unless going to the gym is something you enjoy.
Exercise can be enjoyable. Consider physical activities that work best for your body, health, and preferences.
Exercise and movement ideas for mental health:
- Taking a walk first thing in the morning
- Love the water? Think about swimming for exercise.
- Try yoga or pilates.
- Dance! Dance! Dance!
- Stretch your body a few times daily
- Enjoy being outside? How about hiking or gardening?
- Think about a new active hobby, like golfing or cycling
3. Eat Healthy Brain Food
The human brain and nervous system depend on nutrition to build new proteins, cells, and tissues.
Our bodies require a variety of carbohydrates, proteins, and minerals to function correctly.
It’s beneficial to our physical and mental health to eating meals and snacks that include a variety of foods instead of eating the same meals each day.
Here are the top three foods to incorporate into a healthy mental diet:
- Complex carbohydrates- Whole-wheat bread, barley, quinoa, potatoes, oatmeal, and beans.
- Lean proteins Good protein sources include chicken, meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts, and seeds.
- Fatty acids– are crucial for the proper function of the brain and nervous system. You can find them in fish, meat, eggs, nuts, and flaxseeds.
Learn More >>
4. Mindfulness and Meditation for Mental Health
When stressed out, our bodies produce high levels of cortisol, which can negatively affect our health.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help!
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment.
Mindfulness is a critical element of stress reduction and overall happiness. source
How to Practice Mindfulness for Mental Health
Mindfulness has two components that bring stress relief and help mental health: Awareness and the absence of self-judgment
Awareness: Awareness allows you to notice emotions, anxieties, negative perceptions, and self-talk as they arise and before they become entrenched.
You can be more flexible in your responses when you practice mindfulness.
No Judgement: The absence of judgment and an open and accepting attitude allows you to accept whatever arises, rather than trying to suppress it or making a big deal out of it.
When you accept your emotions, you aren’t struggling with internal conflict, so you have more resources to deal positively with the situation. source
What is Meditation?
Meditation is one of my favorite self-care habits!
Meditation can be defined as a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention.
Meditation is also a consciousness-changing technique shown to have many benefits on psychological well-being. source
Meditation has been shown to help lower cortisol levels, improve emotional state and improve mental health.
If you’re unsure how to meditate, I have written an article about the benefits of daily meditation so that you can understand more about meditation and its benefits.
There are also tons of resources available online about meditation.
Check out this fantastic article: 25 best meditation resources.
I also recommend a good meditation app like Headspace or Calm.
Related: The Benefits of Daily Meditation
It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine! And it’s true!
Laughing releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Laughing not only feels good but can also improve stress by lowering cortisol levels in the brain.
So do things that make you happy and that make you laugh!
Hang out with that funny friend, choose fun, light-hearted and funny shows on Netflix, consider going to a comedy club with friends, and search out funny reels on Instagram and TikTok.
Want to improve your mood and your mental health? Make it your mission to laugh!
Listen to Music.
Music is good for the soul and can be a powerful tool for mood regulation and stress.
The Benefits of Music for Mental Health:
Whether you’re on edge or need a boost, just one song can bring you back to a more even and healthy place.
- Reduce stress
- Calm Anxiety
- Lift mood
- Help Sleep
Tips for Listening to Music for Mental Health:
- Make Playlists for different moods: Upbeat, relaxing, etc.
- Play relaxing instrumental music in the background at your home
- Listen to music while taking walks, exercising, and cleaning the house.
- Play sleep music while falling asleep ( I use the Insight Timer app for that!)
- Listen to upbeat music while doing tasks you don’t enjoy.
5. Get Social
Spending time with family and friends can be fun, but research also shows it benefits your mental and physical health.
Even if you don’t feel like being around other people, pushing yourself to do it sometimes is essential because social interactions are crucial for our well-being.
Recent history has proven that being isolated for long periods can cause psychological distress.
Reaching out to loved ones can help alleviate some of that discomfort.
According to Psychology Today, there are many benefits to social interaction, which include:
- You may live longer. People with more social support tend to live longer than those who are more isolated.
- You will likely enjoy better physical health. In addition, social engagement is associated with a more robust immune system, especially for older adults.
- You will likely enjoy better mental health. Interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression.
- You may even lower your risk of dementia. More recently, there has been evidence that socializing is good for your brain health.
6. Do What You Love. Love What You Do.
Doing what you love and loving what you do is an excellent way to live.
Life is short. Spend as much time doing what you love as you possibly can!
Doing what you love and what makes you happy will improve your mood and increase your sense of satisfaction with life.
Having a job or career that you enjoy and that is fulfilling can lead to a healthier, happier life.
Likewise, hobbies are a great way to add passion to your life!
Having hobbies that interest us and engaging in activities that light us up is a great way to boost mood, self-confidence, and overall well-being.
Related: Need a hobby? Creative hobbies for women 50+
Journaling is another one of my favorite self-care habits. And a great self-care habit that can help to improve mental health.
I journal as much as possible, and I have to say, I believe that journaling has improved my clarity, focus, and my mental health.
There are many types of journaling.
Here are a few of my favorites that I believe improve mental health.
Journaling to improve mental health:
- Gratitude journaling
- Art journaling
- Morning pages journaling
8. Get Some Sun!
Yes! Vitamin D is essential for our overall health, but did you know it’s also crucial for mental health?
Getting enough vitamin D can help improve your mood and ease anxiety.
You can get vitamin D from spending time in the sun and by taking vitamin D supplements.
If you don’t have time to get outside, you can try sitting near a window to get some sunlight.
Related: The Best Supplements for Women
9. Get Better Sleep to Improve Mental Health
This one is self-explanatory, but getting enough sleep is essential for mental and physical health.
When we’re tired, our moods suffer, and we’re more likely to make bad decisions.
Aim for eight to nine hours of sleep every night and create a bedtime routine to help you wind down before sleep.
Developing good sleep hygiene is an essential cornerstone of self-care.
Good sleep hygiene is about putting yourself in the best position to sleep well every night.
Optimizing your sleep schedule, pre-bed routine, and daily routines all play a part in good sleep hygiene.
Here are a few sleep hygiene tips to get you started.
Good Sleep Hygiene Tips:
- Set your sleep schedule
- Follow a nightly routine
- Cultivate healthy daily habits
- Optimize your bedroom
Related: Nighttime Self-Care Routine
10. Drink More Water
Staying well-hydrated is crucial to both physical and mental health.
You’ve got to drink adequate amounts of water daily to fight dehydration.
Dehydration is known to harm both physical health and mental health. Becoming dehydrated affects mental health because of how it impacts the brain.
It is estimated that about three-quarters of our brain is water.
Even slight dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, lack of mental clarity, stress, and sleep issues.
So, with 80% of our brain being with water, it is only evident that we need to keep ourselves hydrated. source
Bottom line: Drinking enough water is a self-care habit that will help you start on track both physically and mentally.
Related: How Much Water Do I need to Drink?
12. Practice Gratitude to Improve Mental Health
Gratitude is associated with happiness! Why? Because being grateful can change everything!
It’s been said that perspective or attitude is everything. I believe it.
When we practice gratitude, our perspective on everything tends to be more positive.
And life is better when we choose to have a positive outlook on life. No Matter the circumstance.
There are many benefits of gratitude for our well-being and mental health.
The benefits of gratitude:
- Gratitude and thanksgiving can make us happier.
- An attitude of gratitude can promote physical health.
- Practicing gratitude helps with stress.
- Being grateful builds confidence + self-esteem.
- Gratitude can help us to be more resilient.
- Practicing gratitude can improve sleep!
- Gratitude strengthens relationships & friendships.
- Being a thankful person will enhance your perspective.
Do you practice gratitude? If not, I urge you to give it a try.
Check out these articles I’ve written about gratitude:
–How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
–How to Practice Gratitude Daily
13. Pamper Yourself.
Yes! Pamper yourself!
Self-care habit number thirteen is pampering! Why not?
Take some time out for yourself and do some pampering.
I believe that going beyond the basics of good hygiene and pampering yourself as much as possible is essential to emotional and mental wellness.
Here are a few ways to boost your mood with some pampering.
Boost your mood with a little pampering
- Take a long bath with bubbles, candlelight, and a good book. Relax and enjoy
- Get yourself a mani-pedi.
- Have your hair done. A new color and cut will do you good.
- Update your wardrobe. A new outfit can be powerfully uplifting!
- Sleep in. A little extra sleep will do wonders.
- Take a mental health day. Spend the day doing whatever makes you happy.
Related article: The Art of Bathing for Self-care
Simple Self-care Habits to Improve Mental Health
These simple self-care habits to improve mental health can help to create a foundation for a more positive outlook on life.
Do you practice self-care? What self-care habits will you practice to improve your mental health?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Until next time, Be well.
These are great self-care habits. Journaling is one of my favorite ways to tend to my mental health and when I need an extra boost I watch the funniest stand up I can find so that I can laugh.
Big fan of all these!
Each of these suggestions are really good. Going outside and getting sun and being mindful are very helpful and important. Thank you for sharing this encouraging post. 🤗
Pastor Natalie (ExamineThisMoment)
This is an awesome list! We can all easily incorporate these habits into our routine, and it will help tremendously with our mental health! Thank you!
I love these tips! I need to be better about taking care of myself, There are so many days when I won’t step out of my house, brush my hair, or even put a bra on 😆. I need to find more time for myself, especially after reading this guide.
All of these are wonderful ways to enjoy a fulfilling life! If only we would take time to pamper ourselves as we should. Thank you for sharing, I do practice a lot of these however, I could do more.
Great post! I’m listening to Atomic Habits now.
All great suggestions! Amazing how not drinking enough water really does affect how we function—mentally and physically. Thank you for sharing.
Self care is so important to good health both mentally and physically.