Life is full of ups and downs. As you navigate different life experiences, you may notice your mental health shifts depending on your stress level. When your mental health is struggling, it can feel very lonely and overwhelming. The good news is that there are some simple ways to improve your mental health when you are struggling that don’t take a lot of time or money.
Working on improving your mental health is a process and doesn’t happen overnight. But it is a process very much worth pursuing so that you can be the best version of you for both yourself, your loved ones and people you interact with in the world.
There is nothing in life that matters more than being healthy mentally and physically. A healthy brain means that you can enjoy all that life has to offer. Focusing on simple changes and habits can help increase your mood and toolbox for when you need ideas on how to feel better mentally. Use these tips from experts to find realistic ways that work for your lifestyle to improve your mental health.
Tip #1 to Improve Your Mental Health: Spend Time Outside
It may seem simple, but science proves that spending time outside in the sun and fresh air can drastically improve your mood. Even spending as little as 10 minutes a day in the sun can boost your immune system and provide an increase in serotonin.
Being outside is like a reset for the human body. Time spent outside provides a variety of physical and mental benefits. So the next time you are struggling with your mood, step outside. Walking would be even better, but even just sitting in the fresh air can provide benefits too.
Tip #2 to Improve Your Mental Health: Let Your Emotions Out
In an ideal world, everyone could afford therapy and see a therapist whenever they need it. Meeting with a therapist provides a variety of benefits and gives you tools to help cope with stress and anxiety. Somatic therapy specifically is an ideal option to help release emotions as it combines both physical and mental tools to help support your mental health needs.
If you can’t afford a therapist or have to wait longer periods to make an appointment, one tip that experts suggest is to journal. Journaling provides a similar outlet to therapy in that you have a safe space to release all of your emotions.
When you journal, just let your thoughts flow. There is no need to focus on perfect writing. The goal is simply to release your thoughts and help free your mind from stressors.
Tip #3 to Improve Your Mental Health: Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
One of the reasons many people struggle with making progress in their mental health is that the goals they are hoping to accomplish are too lofty and they try to accomplish them without support. Setting realistic goals for yourself can help you not only achieve the goal, but be patient with yourself and give yourself grace while you are working towards meeting the goal.
Experts advise to start with smaller goals that are specific such as getting outside two times a week or walking at least once a week. Keeping track of your accomplishments by writing them down also provides encouragement and accountability.
Many times when people are struggling with their mental health it can be challenging to find motivation to do anything. This is why having simple and small attainable goals is important to start with before moving on to bigger goals.
Tip #4 to Improve Your Mental Health: Add An Exercise Routine to Your Schedule
Exercise is often mentioned as one of the top choices for things to focus on when working to improve mental health. Wondering why? When you move your body, you release endorphins.
Endorphins help you feel good both physically and mentally. It can be hard to want to exercise when you are struggling with your mental health, so finding the movement that feels best to your own body is the best place to start.
Starting simple, with a 5 minute walk or 10 minutes of yoga can be an easy way to incorporate movement into your daily routine. You don’t need to start running 5 miles a day to reap the benefits that exercise provides for mental health. Simply committing to a few minutes of movement per day can make a difference in increasing your mood and quality of life.
Tip #5 to Improve Your Mental Health: Limit Screen Time
While it may seem like all you want to do when you are down is watch a show or scroll through social media, screens can have harmful effects on your mental health.
Watching television can be a great distraction when needed, but it shouldn’t be the only distraction. If you tend to watch tv at night and then go straight to bed, this is likely negatively impacting your mood.
You can still watch your shows at night, just make sure it isn’t the last thing you do. Taking a relaxing bath or reading a book are better options to wind down to help your brain rest for the night.
When it comes to social media use, research has shown that large amounts of time spent on social media apps can cause significant mental health problems. If you are constantly checking your phone, you aren’t staying in the moment and are likely comparing yourself to others.
Giving yourself a time limit is an easy way to limit social media use to allow you to use your time in a more productive manner that is better for your mental health.
Remember that working on improving your mental health is a process and like many good things, takes time to see improvements. The good news is that if you can stick with new habits for at least a week you will begin to see a positive difference.
Start with one change that feels manageable to you and then add new healthy habits over time. Your mental health is one of the most important things in life and making it a priority will help improve your overall quality of life.