7 Healthy Habits For Improved Mental Health
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Although improving your mental health takes time and energy, it’s easier than most people think. To get started, adopt these daily habits.
1. Get Enough Sleep
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. A good night’s sleep boosts your mental well-being and prepares you for a pleasant, productive day.
Unfortunately, many people struggle to fall or stay asleep. If you have this problem, try:
- keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool
- heading to bed and getting up at the same time every day
- preparing for bedtime with relaxing activities, such as reading, taking a bath, or listening to peaceful music
- avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and electronic devices before bed
While regular exercise obviously improves your physical health, it also strengthens your mental health. That’s because physical activity triggers the release of endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that make you feel happy and relaxed.
The CDC recommends that each week, adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity (such as walking), at least 75 minutes of intense activity (such as running), or a combination of moderate and intense activity. Try a variety of activities to see which ones you enjoy most.
Popular options include:
- kayaking or canoeing
- roller skating or rollerblading
3. Eat Well
Healthy eating improves your brain function, which can help you feel more calm, focused, and energized. Every day, eat plenty of nutritious foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes (like beans and lentils), and whole grains (like oats, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread).
Also, get in touch with your body’s natural hunger cues. Eat when you feel hungry, and stop when you feel full. Eating more slowly can make it easier to notice when you become full.
Along with eating well, make sure you drink enough water. According to a study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry, drinking more water can lower your risk of anxiety and depression. The average healthy adult needs about four to six cups of water a day.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the ability to observe the present moment without judgment. It can help you stay grounded and not overreact to difficult thoughts, feelings, and situations.
Like other skills, mindfulness takes practice. Each day, you can practice mindfulness by taking a few minutes to sit quietly, take some deep breaths, and notice what you can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste.
Observe each sensation while letting your thoughts and feelings come and go. If you get distracted by a thought or feeling, gently return your focus to your surroundings.
To further boost your mindfulness skills, search for some guided meditations online. You can also read books that explain mindfulness in more detail.
5. Find A Hobby
Spending time on an enjoyable hobby can ease stress, boost your mood, and help you focus. Revisit any abandoned hobbies, and try out some new ones. Popular options include:
- playing board games
- playing sports
- playing an instrument
Once you choose a hobby or two, consider joining a class, club, or organization focused on that activity. This can further improve your mental health by connecting you with people who share your interests.
6. Limit Social Media Use
Too much social media can take a serious toll on your mental health. The constant flow of new information may overstimulate your brain and cause stress. In addition, you might compare yourself to others and damage your self-esteem.
According to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, limiting your social media use to 30 minutes or less per day can significantly reduce depression and loneliness.
If you currently use social media for much longer than 30 minutes, try slowly cutting down your use. It may also help to remove the apps from your phone’s home screen.
When you get the urge to overuse social media, distract yourself with another activity. For example, you could read a book, go for a walk, or enjoy some face-to-face interaction with a loved one.
7. Control Your Alcohol Or Drug Use
Some people use alcohol or other drugs to feel better. While drugs may temporarily boost your mood, they can wreak havoc on your mental health over time.
That’s why it’s important to avoid illegal drugs and only use prescription drugs as prescribed by a doctor. Also, if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines moderate drinking as having one drink or less per day for women and having two drinks or less per day for men.
If you or a loved one feels unable to stop abusing alcohol or other drugs, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist. Our substance abuse and addiction treatment programs offer personalized, comprehensive care to help you stay sober.
Recovering Champions Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.