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15 Self-Care Habits to Improve Mental Health in 2024

In this article, 15 self-care habits to improve mental health, we will explore 12 habits that can significantly enhance your mental health and overall well-being.

These habits are designed to improve your mental resilience, help you cope with stress, build positive relationships, and make sound decisions in your daily life.

Let’s delve into the importance of good mental health and discover effective self-care practices that can make a real difference.

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self-care habits to improve mental health

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:

self care habits for mental health body movement

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 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
self-care for mental health and brain food

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 >>
self-care for mental health and meditation

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

self-care habits to improve mental health

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

self-care for mental health-laugh

5. Laugh!

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!

self-care habits to improve mental health

6. 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.
self care habits to improve mental health3

7. 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:

  1. You may live longer. People with more social support tend to live longer than those who are more isolated.

  2. You will likely enjoy better physical health. In addition, social engagement is associated with a more robust immune system, especially for older adults.

  3. You will likely enjoy better mental health. Interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression.

  4. You may even lower your risk of dementia. More recently, there has been evidence that socializing is good for your brain health.

8. 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+

self-care for mental health and journaling

9. Journaling

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:

My Favorite Self-Care Books

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41oDqrkhw L. SL160ir?t=christinemath 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=0800736524
512L1GsgzrL. SL160ir?t=christinemath 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=0762490543
51mN3bY0JjL. SL160ir?t=christinemath 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=0062457713

10. 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

self-care for mental health-sleep

11. 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

self-care habits to improve mental health

12. 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 physically and mentally on track.

Related: How Much Water Do I Need to Drink?

self-care for mental health-practice gratitude

13. 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.

Related articles on Gratitude:

How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude
How to Practice Gratitude Daily

self-care habits to improve mental health

14. Pamper Yourself.

Yes! Pamper yourself! Self-care habit number thirteen is pampering! Why not?

Take some time out for yourself and do some pampering.

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 bit of 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

15. Practice Healthy Boundaries

Establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries is a crucial aspect of self-care for mental health.

Boundaries help protect your emotional and physical well-being by defining limits and expectations in your relationships and interactions with others.

Here are some tips for setting and enforcing healthy boundaries:

1. Identify Your Limits

Take some time to reflect on your personal values, needs, and limits. What behaviors or situations make you feel uncomfortable or drained? Understanding your boundaries is the first step in effectively communicating them to others.

2. Communicate Clearly

Once you’ve identified your boundaries, communicate them clearly and assertively to the people in your life.

Be direct yet respectful when expressing your needs and preferences. Remember that it’s okay to say no to requests or activities that infringe upon your boundaries.

3. Practice Self-Awareness

Stay attuned to your emotions and physical sensations as indicators of when your boundaries are being crossed.

If you start to feel stressed, anxious, or resentful in a particular situation, it may be a sign that your boundaries need reinforcement.

4. Set Limits on Your Time and Energy

Learn to prioritize your time and energy by setting limits on how much you give to others. It’s essential to balance your commitments and responsibilities with self-care activities that recharge and replenish your resources.

5. Be Firm and Consistent

Enforcing boundaries may require you to stand firm in your decisions, even if it means facing resistance or pushback from others.

Consistency is key in maintaining healthy boundaries and showing others that you respect yourself and expect the same from them.

6. Seek Support

Surround yourself with people who respect and honor your boundaries.

Seek support from friends, family members, or a therapist who can help you navigate challenging situations and reinforce your commitment to self-care.

7. Practice Self-Compassion

Setting boundaries can be challenging, especially if you’re used to prioritizing others’ needs over your own.

Remember that self-care is not selfish, and it’s okay to prioritize your well-being. Practice self-compassion and give yourself permission to enforce boundaries that support your mental health and happiness.

Related: Be Kind to Yourself Quotes

FAQs: Self-Care Habits To Improve Your Mental Health

Q: What is self-care for mental health, and why is it important?

Self-care for mental health refers to activities and practices that individuals engage in to promote their emotional and psychological well-being.

This can include anything from exercise and relaxation techniques to hobbies and socializing.

It’s important because it helps manage stress, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve overall mental health and resilience.

Q: What are some healthy self-care habits for mental health?

Healthy self-care habits for mental health include regular exercise, practicing mindfulness and meditation, getting enough sleep, maintaining a balanced diet, setting boundaries, seeking social support, engaging in creative activities, and taking time for relaxation and leisure.

Q: How can I incorporate self-care into my daily routine?

Start by identifying activities that make you feel good and rejuvenated. Schedule time for self-care activities each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Be consistent and prioritize your mental health just like you would your physical health. Experiment with different self-care practices to find what works best for you.

Q: I have a busy schedule. How can I make time for self-care?

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed with a busy schedule, but self-care doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

Look for small pockets of time throughout your day where you can sneak in self-care activities, such as taking short breaks to stretch or practice deep breathing, incorporating mindfulness into everyday tasks, or combining self-care with other activities, like listening to calming music while commuting.

Q: What should I do if I’m struggling to prioritize self-care?

Remember that self-care is not selfish; it’s essential for your well-being. Reflect on your priorities and consider the long-term benefits of taking care of yourself.

Start with small, manageable steps and gradually increase the time and effort you dedicate to self-care.

It may also be helpful to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to hold yourself accountable and stay motivated.

Q: Can self-care for mental health help with specific mental health conditions?

Yes, self-care practices can be beneficial for various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, stress, and burnout.

However, it’s essential to tailor your self-care routine to your individual needs and seek professional help if you’re struggling with severe symptoms.

Q: Are there any activities I should avoid?

In my humble opinion, YES! it’s essential to be mindful of activities that may have negative consequences or become harmful, such as excessive alcohol or substance use, overeating, or engaging in risky behaviors.

Choose self-care activities that promote your overall well-being and avoid those that provide only temporary relief or have potential long-term consequences.

Q: How can I stay motivated to maintain a self-care routine?

Find activities that genuinely resonate with you and bring you joy or relaxation.

Set realistic goals and celebrate your progress along the way. Remind yourself of the benefits of self-care and how it positively impacts your mental health.

Consider enlisting the support of a friend or joining a self-care community for accountability and encouragement.

Conclusion: Self-care Habits to Improve Mental Health

In our crazy, mixed-up, and fast-paced world, it’s easy to neglect our mental well-being.

But taking care of your mental health is not a luxury—it’s a necessity.

By implementing these self-care habits into your daily routine, you can significantly improve your mental health and overall well-being.

Remember, self-care is not a one-time thing; it’s an ongoing commitment to prioritize your needs and nurture your mental health.

Every small step counts, whether it’s reaching out to a trusted friend, engaging in physical activity, practicing mindfulness and meditation, or simply allowing yourself some time for laughter and relaxation.

Embracing self-care habits can empower you to navigate life’s challenges with greater resilience, cultivate stronger relationships, and find joy in the little moments.

A Journey of Self-care and Well-being

Here’s to your journey of self-care and well-being! Take care, be kind to yourself, and remember that you can prioritize your mental health.

Until next time, keep practicing self-care and nurturing your beautiful mind!

XO, Christine

christine mathews

I’ve been keeping it real since 1963. 🙂

I’m a child of God, a wifey, mama, grandma, full-time creative, domestic engineer, and self-care enthusiast.

I am obsessed with all things makeup and skincare and love getting my hands dirty out in the garden, my art room, or in the kitchen, whipping up something yummy for the fam.

I’m always down to chat and love collaborating with other creatives and brands alike!

Feel free to reach out anytime!

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. All great suggestions! Amazing how not drinking enough water really does affect how we function—mentally and physically. Thank you for sharing.
    Xo~ Melanie

  6. What a great list of practical ways to improve our mental health. Hanging with friends or family and engaging in activities that make you laugh your ass off goes a long way. Thanks for sharing, Christine.

  7. Great mental health article. Mental health is something to take serious and this article hits all the important parts.

  8. All of these are great ideas for self-care! One of the ones that I think a lot of folks underestimate is eating for your health. This, along with taking a daily walk to clear my mind or consistently getting some type of exercise has helped me tremendously. Thanks for sharing!

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