Habits To Improve Mental Health

Habits To Improve Mental Health

Taking care of our mental health is just as important as our physical health. Below are 6 positive daily habits to improve mental health that I do to boost my mood and ease anxiety and stress. 

Disclaimer: This habits to improve mental health post is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. I’m not a qualified practitioner and I’m not encouraging anyone else to do these things. Please consult a medical professional if you have any concerns regarding your health. This post contains affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you I will earn commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full disclaimer here.


Importance of incorporating positive mental health habits 

Mental wellbeing is an essential aspect of overall health and wellness. How we feel mentally affects how we think, act, interact and handle daily stressors and challenges.

We commonly create habits and routines to ensure we eat well, get some form of movement or exercise and sleep well everyday to improve our overall health.

While these 3 factors greatly influence our mental health, there are other simple healthy mental health habits and activities I include in my daily routine to specifically improve my mental wellbeing, ease anxiety and stress and allow me to maintain a more positive mindset throughout the day. 

Related Post: 3 Tips To Make Creating & Sticking To New Habits and Routines Easy


Good habits for mental health

tip 1). After waking up engage all 5 of your senses in a positive way 

Everyday we wake up we start the day afresh. Think of it like a scale, where we start the day at zero. Daily stressors such as work, family pressure, chronic illness symptoms, negative remarks and medical appointments can cause us to fall into the negative and increase our anxiety and stress. 

Our 5 senses are one of the most powerful ways to create a more positive mindset and ease these negative feelings (1). Research shows how we feel mentally in the morning impacts how we feel, act, speak and think for the rest of our day (2). 

Therefore, at the start of the day after waking up, the more things we do that fill our minds and bodies with things we see, hear, smell, taste and touch, that make us feel good, the more we’ll start the day in a positive mindset, stay in the present moment and be better equipped to handle whatever the rest of the day brings.


How to engage your 5 senses upon waking 

Sight 

  • Look at photos of family, friends and happy memories 
  • Read your favourite quote 
  • Read your favourite bible verse  


Hear 

  • Play your favourite song 
  • Listen to the sound of nature  


Smell 

  • Breathe in fresh air 
  • Burn a natural candle made from soy wax with a cotton wick, like Tofu or One Fur All. Most regular candles are made from paraffin, have a lead wick and are scented with synthetic chemical fragrances, which we inhale when burned. They have been shown to be harmful to our health and increase irritability and anxiety in the long term (3).
  • Diffuse essential oils with a diffuser (UK Link/US Link). The following are especially good for mornings:-
  • Rosemary (UK Link/US Link) – along with easing stress, it increases energy levels and improves concentration and memory (4).
  • Citrus (UK Link/US Link) – lemon, orange, grapefruit, mandarin and bergamot all increase happiness and optimism, increase focus and relieve stress (5).
  • Peppermint (UK Link/US Link) – enhances mood and reduces mental fatigue (6).
  • Cinnamon (UK Link/US Link) – reduces fatigue, boosts mood and increases alertness (7).


Taste

  • Drink warm lemon water.


Touch 

  • Grounding, which instantly calms the whole body and eases anxiety and stress (8). Grounding can be achieved by either:-
    • Going outside and placing your bare feet in contact with the grass, sand or concrete, or
    • Placing your bare feet on a grounding mat indoors (UK Link/US Link).
  • Cold shower  

Related Post: 5 Simple Swaps To Ease Morning Anxiety 


tip 2). Mental health diet plan

Diet isn’t just what you eat. Diet is who you talk to, what you read, what you watch and what you listen to.

While fuelling our bodies with the right foods is important, who we talk to and what we read, watch and listen to can have just as much impact on our health and wellbeing. 

Yet how many of us plan our meals each day but neglect what we’re absorbing from these other areas. We’ll spend our time scrolling through social media, watching the news and talking to people who make negative remarks or make us feel inadequate. 

So as well as planning nourishing meals, I also make a mental diet plan, making sure at least one thing each day that I…

  • Read
  • Listen to
  • Watch
  • Someone I talk to 

…is something that is positive and makes me feel good.

Related Post: 15 Things To Do In Bed To Ease Anxiety & Stress 


tip 3). Have regular mental health snacks during the day

Every 1-2 hours I take a break for 5 minutes to do something that makes me feel good, such as:-

  • Walk round the block,
  • Grounding, placing my bare feet on the grass,
  • Playing one of my favourite songs,
  • Reading a chapter of a book or bible passage,
  • Quick yoga routine or
  • Breathing exercises. 

Performing these activities for up to just 5 minutes has been shown to significantly improve health and wellbeing and reduce anxiety and stress (9). 

Related Post: 12 Vagus Nerve Exercises To Improve Physical & Mental Health 


tip 4). Go outside in nature everyday

Nature really is the best medicine for me and one of the best habits for mental health I have. Nothing compares to the benefits of walking in nature and getting fresh air and sunshine. Spending time in nature has been shown to ease anxiety, stress and depression, boost mood, improve sleep and has a range of benefits for our physical health, including boosting our immune system and reducing inflammation (10).

Grounding, also known as earthing, where you place your bare feet in contact with the Earth, such as on the grass, sand or concrete, has been shown to instantly calm the nervous system, ease stress and anxiety and improve sleep (8). 


tip 5). Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated has been shown to ease the severity of anxiety and stress, boost our energy and alertness and improve concentration (11). I avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can cause dehydration and heighten anxiety, depression and stress (12, 13).

Instead I drink:-

  • Lemon water. Lemon contains electrolytes to help us retain the fluids we consume (14).
  • Chicory (UK Link/US Link). Chicory is a caffeine free drink with a similar taste to coffee.
  • Reishi, Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane mushroom tea (UK Link/US Link). These medicinal mushrooms have been shown to calm the mind, help relieve anxiety, depression and stress and reduce fatigue (15).
  • Green vegetable juices. Green juices provide a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals and electrolytes to aid hydration, while also boosting energy levels (16).

I always make herbal teas using loose leaf tea rather than tea bags. Tea bags contain microplastics, which over time suppress the immune system and are associated with nervous system damage, increased anxiety and irritability and impaired mood (17).


Tip 6). Complete the stress cycle

Stress is something we all encounter everyday, from receiving negative remarks, watching the news, work & having medical appointments. For those with chronic illness our stress response is typically overactive, with our bodies perceiving non threatening stimuli as threatening (18).

Any form of stress activates our stress response, which increases our heart and breathing rates and anxiety. Emily and Amelia Nagoski in their book “Burnout: The Secret To Solving The Stress Cycle” (UK Link/US Link) says stress goes through a cycle – beginning with the stressor and ending when our body receives a signal that it’s now safe (e.g. when we run from a lion), causing our stress response to switch off.

However, most stressors we encounter each day don’t require us to run from them like a lion. Therefore, even after the stressful event is over our body hasn’t received a signal that it’s safe, causing us to remain in the middle of the stress cycle and our stress response remains active.

Unresolved stress can get stored in the body and contribute to:-

  • Muscle tension,
  • Increased pain & inflammation,
  • Increased heart rate,
  • Increased fatigue,
  • Impaired digestion,
  • Impaired sleep,
  • Increased anxiety and depression,
  • Suppressed immune system.

Therefore, the final of the 6 habits to improve mental health I have is ending each day before going to bed by completing the stress cycle.


How to complete the stress cycle

There are 7 ways to complete the stress cycle that the Nagoski’s recommend:-

  • Movement – walking, yoga, running etc.
  • Laughter,
  • Crying,
  • Physical affection,
  • Slow, deep breathing – in and out through the nose, with the exhale double the length of the inhale,
  • Creativity – drawing, making something etc.

I especially find prayer, restorative yoga and slow deep breathing beneficial last thing at night. These activities switch off my stress response and activate the parasympathetic rest and digest state, which has been shown to ease anxiety, increase relaxation and improve sleep, which is essential for mental wellbeing (19, 20, 21). 

Related Post: 5 Step Nighttime Routine To Sleep Better


Related blog posts 


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I hope these daily habits to improve mental health were helpful. What healthy mental habits do you have? I’d love to know what things help you stay mentally healthy. Leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or YouTube.


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