1. Live Healthy

When physical health suffers, mental health can suffer, too. Poor diet, lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle can worsen mental health struggles. Of course, issues like anxiety and depression can be the biggest obstacles to healthier living. When you’re depressed, for example, you may lack the energy to cook or exercise and have trouble sleeping.

However, making small efforts to live a healthier lifestyle can be impactful when it comes to your mental well-being. Even just taking a 30-minute walk each day can boost your mood and improve overall health. A balanced diet can improve your energy and focus, but if cooking homemade meals feels out of reach at the moment, you can start small by cutting back on your caffeine and alcohol consumption.

The more healthy lifestyle habits you can incorporate, the better. Just remember that when you’re struggling with your mental health, even the small steps you take to improve your physical health can help. You don’t have to achieve perfection to get results.

2. Connect with Nature

Many of us spend a good portion of our waking hours indoors looking at screens. Unfortunately, this disconnect from nature is harmful to our mental health. Studies have found that higher screen time is associated with moderate or severe depression. It can also disrupt sleep and disturb your mood.

The good news is that simply going outside can be a balm for these problems. Reducing your screen time and spending more time exposed to nature helps to improve attention, lower stress, and put you in a better mood. It can also reduce the risk for psychiatric disorders. If you want to tend to your mental health, make an effort to get outside and connect with the earth at least once every day.

3. Practice Mindfulness

The busyness of daily life causes many people to feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to get caught up in stressful cycles where you feel inundated by information, running behind on a packed schedule, and worrying about the future all at the same time.

Mindfulness offers a way to counteract feelings of overwhelm. To be mindful, try to stay firmly in the present moment by focusing on your breathing and being more aware of the sensations around you. When your mind wanders, you try to let those thoughts simply pass by and return to the present.

Being mindful may take some practice, but it can be highly beneficial for your mental health. When practiced regularly, mindfulness can alleviate depression and anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep. It can also help to improve attention, minimize impulsivity, reduce hyperactivity, and boost executive function.

4. Work on Self-Acceptance

Do you have an inner critic? If so, you may be engaging in a lot of negative self-talk. When you have thoughts about yourself which are unfairly critical, judgmental, pessimistic, or mean-spirited, you tear down your mental health little by little. Negative self-talk can lead to an increased risk of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other mental health conditions. It can also contribute to increased stress, lower self-esteem, and relationship challenges.

In order to build your mental health back up again, you need to find ways to quiet that negative inner dialogue. Practice self-acceptance by simply reminding yourself that you’re only human, and everyone makes mistakes sometimes. You can also try to be more compassionate toward yourself by changing your inner dialogue to be like the way you’d talk to a friend. When you’re feeling disappointed or dejected, offer yourself words of encouragement and comfort like you would to a loved one in the same boat.

5. Stay Connected

Loneliness can have a significant impact on mental health. If you don’t have a support system to fall back on when times are tough, that isolation can feed into your mental struggles. Lonely people report more depressive symptoms, less satisfaction, and higher levels of stress. Loneliness can even lead to a higher risk of dementia and alcohol abuse.

Even though we generally think of self-care as something we do on our own, it’s important to recognize the mental health benefits of social connection. Having a support system in place reduces stress, anxiety, and depression and improves your overall well-being. Asking for help from your loved ones can be a great way to boost your mental health and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

Take time to nurture your social ties to friends, family members, and peers. If you’re struggling with your mental health, try to be honest about what you’re going through and ask for support, like daily check-ins or helping you set up an appointment with a therapist.

6. Take a Mental Health Day

When your mental health takes a hit, it becomes harder to deal with day-to-day activities. Although many of us feel like we have to “toughen up” and just power through, that can actually backfire by causing a serious case of burnout.

It’s important to remember that rest is one of the best forms of mental health self-care. Taking a mental health day is a wonderful way to recharge a bit and nurture your mental well-being. Don’t try to use your “day off” as an opportunity to check things off your to-do list. Instead, focus on relaxing, minimizing stress, and low-key activities that bring you joy.

You might not always be able to take a mental health day when things are tough. In those cases, think about what you can say “no” too in order to reduce the stress you’re experiencing. Setting a boundary is another effective way to protect your mental health.