When it comes to mental health or even physical health, any kind of positive change, whether little or big, can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, you don’t just automatically wake up one day feeling happy, motivated and cured from depression. If that were the case, everyone would be happy and mental health would not even be a topic of conversation. However, improving your mental health requires more than just a “conversation”, it requires change. Change is stepping out of your comfort zone for the sake of progress. Please excuse the tough love, but unless YOU make changes in your life, there will be NO change in your life. No one can change your life for you. Which is why, it is beyond important to acquire habits that will help you make positive changes. Here are 10 habits that have helped me improve my mental health!
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10 DAILY HABITS TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH:
1. GO ON SEROTONIN BOOSTER WALKS
There is nothing more soothing to the mind and soul than receiving some fresh morning air and sunshine. You don’t have to walk for hours to receive benefits. A simple 20 minute walk will just do. Walking improves serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer that helps reduce depression and anxiety. The lower the level of serotonin, the higher the chances are of being affected by sadness, depression, anxiety and even insomnia. Good levels of serotonin contribute to a HAPPIER and more stable you. Therefore, walking is a great serotonin booster!
Definitely try adding in a twenty-minute walk to your morning routine!
2. SWEAT IT OUT
A good 20-45 minute workout (3-5 days a week) will do wonders for your body and your mental health. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. The release of endorphins is what produces that incredible “euphoric” feeling after you workout. If you ask me, it’s one of the best feelings in the world. Endorphins help reduce depression, stress and even pain. How amazing?
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
Exercise also helps improve your self-esteem, which is another huge factor that affects your mental health. When you begin to exercise regularly, you start to gain confidence, which ultimately leads to having a more positive outlook of life.
However, you have to remember to stay consistent. Don’t think that only working out once in a every blue moon will do the trick. Consistency is KEY here.
3. HYDRATE, HYDRATE, AND HYDRATE MORE.
When I mean hydrate, I really mean HYDRATE. Hydrate as in drink 2L of water, not just one glass of water a day. It has been said that depression is also linked to dehydration. When our bodies are dehydrated, we are more prone to feelings of sadness and anxiety. Not only that, but a dehydrated body also lacks energy. If your body doesn’t have energy, there is so little that can be accomplished. The inability to complete regular activities can increase the feelings of sadness, frustration, and anxiety!
EASY HACK TO DRINK MORE WATER:
Aim to drink 2 liters of water a day. I find it easier to drink more water using a 2L water bottle rather than filling up 8 cups (or such). You can buy yourself a 2L water bottle at Walmart. Fill up your water bottle every morning and don’t go to bed unless that bottle is empty or at least nearly empty. Now that’s a serious goal.
4. BECOME OBSESSED WITH FRUITS
Changing your eating habits is important, but sometimes tricky to do instantly.
CONSUME HEALTHIER FOODS
Instead of focusing on eliminating all of the “bad/unhealthy” food that you consume, begin adding healthy food to your diet. As you begin adding healthier foods to your diets, your body will slowly begin to detach itself from unhealthy foods and once you know it, you will begin to seek and crave healthy food! The foods that you eat the most are the foods that you will crave the most.
THE FOOD MOST ASSOCIATED WITH POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH IS….
Studies have shown fruits to be the food most associated with positive mental-health outcomes. Compromise to eat at least ONE fruit a day. Whether it be an apple or an orange, make sure you incorporate a fruit to one of your meals or snacks during the day. Once you have the whole one-fruit-a-day habit down, your body will be more prepared to increase your fruit intake. Surely, before you know it, you will be craving fruits instead of burgers, pizza, donuts, etc. It’ll amaze you.
5. EAT 10 ALMONDS DAILY
Almonds are incredibly packed in nutrients. They are rich in fiber, protein, vitamin-E, antioxidants and all that good stuff! Almonds help reduce headaches; improve your brain, eye, and skin health; control your blood pressure and sugar; and even boost your immune system. Believe it or not, your physical health has a lot of influence on your mental health. These two are linked with one another.
A HEALTHIER YOU IS A BETTER YOU
I’ve realized that when I am at my healthiest state, I am the happiest. Just eating 10 almonds a day can help improve not only your mental health, but your overall health as well. And how hard is it to eat almonds? You can add almonds to almost anything.
6. FORCE A SMILE
This a simple, but tricky habit to implement. Because let’s face it, who want’s to smile when you’re feeling depressed or stressed? Not me. However, when you know that smiling can alleviate some of the internal pain you are feeling, how can you not at least try?
BENEFITS OF SMILING
Smiling releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin – which are all good neuropeptides that help alleviate pain, improve your mood and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. What are neuropeptides, you may ask? Neuropeptides are molecules used by neurons to communicate with each other.
So, when you smile, you send your brain positive vibes, sort to speak. You send positive vibes to your brain and in return your mood is improved.
EASY HACK TO FORCE A SMILE
If you can’t get yourself to smile on your own, grab a pencil and put it between your teeth. The motion of biting it will trick your brain into thinking that you are smiling because you are happy. The “fake it till you make it” attitude really applies here. Fake smiling until you can genuinely smile.
7. JOURNAL YOUR FEELINGS
OPEN UP TO YOURSELF
Sometimes all you need is to be able to express how you feel to someone. Whether it be good feelings or bad feelings, it’s always nice to be able to express them in one way or another. Now, opening up about depression or anxiety to others is difficult. Some people will understand you, while others will criticize you, judge you and ultimately make you feel worse. So, the best person (other than God) to open up to is actually yourself Who knew?
RELEASE YOUR FEELINGS ON PAPER
Buy yourself a journal (with a lock) and simply write. Write EXACTLY how you feel. Don’t sugar coat anything, or hold any of your feelings inside of you, but instead release them on to your journal. I’ve had many experiences where I felt completely hopeless and depressed and simply couldn’t get myself to speak to anyone about it, so I’d have no other option than to rely on my journal. I couldn’t just keep all those emotions bottled up inside me. So, I’d write down exactly what came to my mind at the moment. I’d write what I was feeling, as if I were talking to a person.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS
Laugh if you want, but this habit has helped me get through so many hard times. Trust me, I have always always always felt better after journaling my feelings. What I really love about journaling is seeing progress. Remember, the bad seasons won’t last forever. Your journal entries won’t all be negative ones. The sadness will go away someday and when it does it will be so nice to look back and see ALL the things you went through, how you were feeling then and how far you have come.
8. SEARCH FOR INSPIRATION
At the end of the day you’re not the only one dealing with this. It may feel like it, but you are NOT. There are so many others who are currently dealing with the same thing or have dealt with this before. So, you’re not alone in this.
BE INSPIRED BY SURVIVORS
Fortunately enough, many people who have been through depression and have survived it – have made videos, written articles and books to help others go through it as well. Bless their souls. So, set aside at least 15 minutes a day to SEARCH for inspiration out there. Be inspired by others. If others survived this, you will too. There are so many places you can find inspiration at. The internet, books, the Bible, etc.
USE THE INTERNET FOR A GOOD PURPOSE
Look up inspirational videos, stories, testimonies on YouTube. Watch TED talks. Subscribe to motivational channels. Search inspirational quotes on google or Pinterest and repeat them or write them down – they are so helpful. And if you are a believer like myself, find inspiration and consolation in your bible!
9. SCHEDULE “ME TIME”
One of the things I have learnt over the years is the importance of appreciating your own company. It is so important to disconnect yourself from the world to focus on YOU, even if it’s only for a few minutes. We spent most of our time worrying about others, why not do the same with ourselves? How can we be of help to others if we aren’t at our best? Alone time helps us recharge and reflect on ourselves.
MAKE TIME FOR THE THINGS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY
Take at least 20 minutes of the day for YOU. During those 20 minutes, only do what makes you happy. Whether it be to read a book, listen to music, do a mask, watch a show, journal, eat a snack or simply relax – find time to isolate yourself from the world and do the things that give you joy. Don’t let anyone or anything interfere with this time. Hey, go schedule an appointment with yourself, and don’t miss it! Got it?
10. LEARN SOMETHING NEW
“It’s actually a core need for psychological wellbeing. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy. It can also be a way of connecting with others too” – Vanessa King (Psychology expert)
YOU ARE MEANT TO GROW
Not just in age, but in knowledge as well. Our minds are always waiting to collect new information and knowledge. Now, when we deprive our minds from learning, but instead we only practice activities that won’t give us any kind of growth like watching TV, playing video games, being on social media for HOURS, etc (excuse the tough love, but it must be said) – our mind responds back….and not in a good way. Not that any of the things mentioned above are necessarily bad or wrong. It is simply the abundance of time spent doing these things that affect our mind negatively.
THE SENSE OF FULFILLMENT
When we learn something new, we feel a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment afterwards. Let’s say you learned a new word, or a very interesting fact – don’t you almost always go tell someone about your new discovery because you’re just so excited that you learnt something new? Oh, I know you can relate! Now, compare that feeling of fulfillment to the feeling of frustration and disappointment after spending hours and hours on social media or watching TV (we’ve all experienced this too, haven’t we?) Do you see the difference?
DEVOTE YOUR TIME TO LEARN NEW THINGS
Spend less time doing the things that in the long run make you sad & frustrated and spend more time doing the things that in the long run will give you happiness and confidence. Devote a few minutes of your day to learning something new. There are so many things you can learn. You can learn a new word, a new fact, a new language – become fluent in it, research a topic you’re interested in, etc!
Regardless of how you’re feeling right now, please know that:
1. You are NOT alone
2. It is possible to change your lifestyle around
3. There is HOPE for you as well
4. No bad season in life lasts forever
5. Everything in life happens for a reason
I truly hope that these tips serve of help to you. I don’t claim that any of these tips will cure depression, anxiety or any other mental illness. Nor do I claim to be a professional in the manner. I am merely just sharing with you all ten habits that have personally helped ME improve my mental health. In 2018 I was in a very hard place (depressed, sad, tired of life, etc) and I wouldn’t be writing this today in if God wouldn’t have guided me to add these habits into my life and change my whole lifestyle around.
Until next time,
*All the information/advice/tips given above are to inspire you, not to replace the advice of a professional. Although GABBYABIGAILL has taken much time, consideration and research to ensure the accuracy of the information displayed above, GABBYABIGAILL will not be responsible or liable for any actions taken by your part.*