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Our mental health is greatly influenced by our habits. By introducing positive mental health habits into our daily life, we can both significantly improve our mental health and maintain it long term. Get started with 10 good mental health habits with the power to change your life – if you let them.
Why are Good Habits Important for Mental Health?
We are the sum of our actions, and therefore our habits make all the difference.Aristotle
We are what we repeatedly do.
If you want to become a runner, you have to run regularly.
To become a reader, you need to pick up a book.
If you want to improve your mental health, you need to repeatedly do things that lead to good mental health.
So what are those things? What are some positive habits for your mental health that can be easily implemented into your daily life? Read the list below and choose one or two habits that you can start today.
Once you have implemented those habits into your daily routine, come back and try another one!
10 Good Mental Health Habits
1. Eat Good Food
Eating good food is key to mental health. And with good food I mean both foods that are really delicious, and foods that are good for your body. Eat enough food to fuel yourself. Being hungry, being deprived, will make you feel bad.
Eat healthy food in good amounts that fuels your body. And then occasionally have a truly indulgent treat that makes you happy!
Read More: Diet and Mental Health
We all know that exercise is great for our physical health, but recently, more and more studies are showing that it also significantly impacts our mental health.
In a large study of 1.2 million people in the US, over 4 years, people who exercised had 43.2% fewer days of poor mental health than people who didn’t exercise. And that was after other differences such as demographics and income had been taken into account!
Read More: 10 Health Benefits of a Daily Morning Walk
Just like our body needs a break every once in a while, so does our mind. The way we give our mind pause is by stop thinking, to just be for a little while.
This can take the form of formal meditation, and if you are not used to taking a pause, a 5 min guided meditation can be a great place to start. There are many available for free on YouTube.
But you don’t need to meditate to give your mind a break. You can look out the window and watch the birds and the clouds. You can stop listening to music while you’re out for a walk and just be in the world. Or, you can just take a few deep breaths and let your mind relax.
Learning how to pause will help with your energy levels and it’s a powerful tool to stop worrying. Set your alarm 3 times a day for a week and learn the art of the pause! You will not regret it.
The slightest adjustments to your daily routines can dramatically alter the outcomes in your lifeDarren Hardy
4. Sleep is a Good Mental Health Habit
There is a close relationship between sleep and mental health. I think we all know that if we’ve been up all-night worrying, we will feel rather bad the next day. In the same way, we know how great we can feel after a good night sleep.
Focusing on our sleep is one of the most impactful things we can do for your mental, and in extension physical, health. For example, in a study on sleep and mental health in undergraduate students with generally healthy sleep habits researchers showed that their general sleep was associated with their mental health. They could also see that the duration and frequency of night time sleep disruptions were related to symptoms of psychological distress.
The authors also stressed the importance of being able to intervene and improve sleep habits before the mental health symptoms becomes concerning.
5. Talk About Your Feelings for Good Mental Health
Talking about your feelings can both help you feel better and make you stay in good mental health. For those of us not used to talk about how we feel this can be difficult and scary, but it is critically important for our ongoing mental health.
Make a point of talking about how you feel with your partner, a parent, or your best friend. Call them once a week and share how you’re both doing – really doing.
If you feel there is no one you can talk to, find a professional. Talking therapies can be hugely beneficial, especially if you are not used to open up and share.
6. Recover Like the Introvert/Extrovert You Are
Introvert: Get tired around other people and regain energy when alone.
Extrovert: Becomes energized around others and feel tired and down when alone.
Being an introvert or extrovert is not about if you have friends or if you are good at networking. It’s about how you regain your energy. Do you need some time for yourself, or do you need the energy that comes from a community?
There is no right or wrong, but knowing how you best recover will enable you to build habits into your life that supports what you need.
Introvert? How about a luxurious bath for recovery?
Extrovert? Start a weekly potluck with friends!
7. Asking for Help is Important for Mental Health
No man is an island. And no woman either. We all need help sometimes. It can be very practical help like fixing the boiler. It can be emotional help with someone being there as we do something difficult. Wemay need to seek help for a mental or physical health issue.
Get into the habit of asking for help when you need it.
And continue to ask until the help helps.
Read More: Get help from a mental health charity helpline (UK)
8. Create Surroundings Where You Feel Safe
Feeling safe is fundamental to our wellbeing. It’s the cornerstone that we need to build a good life. Is there anything in your life that currently make you feel unsafe?
Mould on the walls that you know is not healthy?
A partner who gets angry at the drop of a hat?
Worry about paying your mortgage?
Whatever it is that makes you feel unsafe is the first thing you need to change to have a good foundation for your mental health. Identify what needs to change and what habits can support that change.
9. Notice Automatic Thoughts and Self-Talk
Many of us have a habit of making ourselves feel bad. Without even noticing it. It’s that thought you hardly notice that make you suddenly feel bad. The voice in your head telling you that you could have done better. That you’re not enough.
By first learning to notice these thoughts, and long term changing them, will make a huge difference to our mental wellbeing.
The important thing is to not beat yourself up for not controlling your thoughts, but to realise that these are ingrained habits that we actively need to work on to change. But change is possible.
Read More: Identifying Automatic Thoughts in CBT
10. Increase Resilience
Resilience, the capacity to recover from difficulties, is not a personality trait. It’s a number of habits that can be created. It’s habits that helps increase:
Most important, remember to create habits to feel all those things for yourself as well as for others.
Do you need to work on your gratitude? Think about 3 things you are grateful for every night before going to sleep.
Do you lack compassion towards yourself? Get into the habit of examining your thoughts. Would you tell your daughter (actual or imaginary) the same thing you are telling yourself?
Build Your Own Good Mental Health Habits
Reading a list of positive mental health habits is all well and good, but once you have learned what you need to know you need to actually implement them into your life.
Pick one or two habits that would make the greatest difference for your mental wellbeing. Implement them into your life, and then review how they are serving you.
By taking action and making habits for good mental health a priority, you can create a brighter future for yourself.
Read More: The Personal Management Cycle