16 Powerful Tips to Improve Your Mental Health

Dani Milton
December 2, 2020

A mental illness is a complex condition that affects a person’s thinking, behavior, mood, and emotions. It may also affect your personal relationships and how you connect with other people. If you have a mental illness, know you aren’t alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

One in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness annually.

One in 25 American adults experiences severe mental illness every year.

One in 6 U.S. young people (ages 6-17) experiences a mental disorder each year.

Fifty percent of lifetime mental illness begins at age 17, and 75 percent by age 24.

Mental illnesses result from many causes, including genetics, trauma, environment and lifestyles. If you currently have a mental illness, there are steps you can take to improve your condition. Reading valuable books on mental illness and how others have coped helps. Having health insurance to help pay for psychiatrists, medication and therapy sessions is vital. In this article, you’ll learn 16 tips to help you improve your mental health.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health is the state of a person's psychological and social wellness. This condition is more than the absence of psychological illness; it is the ability to think, learn, and socialize. According to the World Health Organization, it serves as the foundation of a person's wellbeing. It also ensures that an individual can function effectively in society. Mental health also involves the ability to understand one’s own emotions and the reactions of other people. Good mental health creates a state of balance within a person’s life and with their environment. This balance occurs because of social, psychological, spiritual, physical, other related factors. It is also the state where every person realizes his or her own potential. The individual can work and contribute meaningfully to society. The international organization says the link between mental and physical health is inseparable.

Your mental state will affect how you respond to other people. It will also determine how you cope with different stressors and situations in life.

Why Is Mental Health Important?

Physical diseases have an immediate, measurable impact on a person’s health. Most people understand how illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure can affect their health. They can also take corrective actions like better nutrition, exercise, and drugs to improve their wellness. Poor mental health does not have an obvious or immediate effect on your wellbeing, but its effects may build. It is just as essential as physical health because it can affect all areas of your life. When a person doesn’t handle challenging situations well because of mental illness, it can lower their body’s immunity response. They can also develop an inflammatory response that causes stress-induced diseases.

Good mental health helps you:

  • Stay physically healthy
  • Cope better with life’s stresses and challenges
  • Maintain better relationships with others
  • Work productively
  • Realize your full potential
  • Make meaningful contributions to your community.

The Top Five Mental Health Conditions in America

Mental illness is common in the United States. Here are the top five mental health conditions in the nation.

Anxiety Disorders – These are the most common mental health conditions within the nation. Almost 40 million adults experience an anxiety disorder, and seven percent of children ages 3 to 17 have one. Anxiety disorders cause an overwhelming, intense fear. It prevents people from doing everyday activities. To learn more, visit NAMI’s page on Anxiety Disorders.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – This developmental disorder is defined by inattention and disorganization. Additionally, individuals suffer from hyperactivity-impulsivity (fidgeting, difficulty staying seated).To learn more about ADHD, visit this page.

Bipolar Disorder – This condition causes dramatic shifts in people’s mood, energy, and ability to think. People who suffer from this issue experience high and low moods, known as mania depression and can easily be misdiagnosed if they seek help during a depressive episode, as is the case in this memoir. They sometimes experience delusions and hallucinations, which can be very traumatic. For details, visit this page.

Borderline Personality Disorder – Individuals with this condition have patterns of instability in their emotions known as dysregulation. They also suffer from instability in interpersonal relationships, impulsivity, and self-harm. For details, visit this page.

Depression – People with this condition have negative thoughts and hopelessness. They experience periods of mood changes, thought processes, and motivations that last two or more weeks. For details, visit this page.

In the next section, you’ll learn several tips to help you improve your mental wellness and health.

How to Improve Your Mental Health

Are you searching for ways to improve your mental health and wellness? In this section, you’ll learn about 15 tips that will help you think, feel, and relate to others better.

1. Keep a Positive Mental Outlook

Improving your outlook is a key component of better mental health. Staying optimistic doesn’t mean you need to be happy all the time or only think positive thoughts. It’s unrealistic since most people face unexpected situations that can bring them down. Finding a gentle balance between positive and negative emotions can help. Acknowledge feelings like anger, sadness, and pain. It can help you work through these emotions instead of suppressing them. It will also enable you to respond better to stressful situations. Forgive yourself for your previous mistakes. Don’t dwell on traumatic, embarrassing or painful situations. Although you can learn things from reflection, reliving your past will only cause negative emotions to resurface. Don’t worry too much about future situations that you have no control over. You should also ignore rumors and avoid fights with other people to stay calm.

2. Take Care of Your Physical Health

If you’re feeling down, taking care of your body may be the last thing you want to do. You feel tired and may lack the energy to make the necessary changes. Exercise may be the last thing on your mind. Yet, studies show that taking care of your physical health is key to improving your mental health. Here are a few tips that to help you improve your physical health:

Get daily exercise: Research shows physical activity reduces feelings like stress and depression. It can also elevate your mood. Setting up a daily routine can ensure you get some exercise in. It can be as simple as walking around your neighborhood. If you don’t enjoy walks, you can ride an elliptical bike during your favorite show. Exercise gurus also post free videos you can follow on YouTube and Tik Tok.

Get enough sleep: Maintaining a regular sleep cycle will help you feel rested and improve your moods. When you don’t get enough sleep, you can become annoyed, stressed, and irritated. Lack of sleep can also make you become more depressed and affect your mood over the long run.

Eat nutrient-dense foods: Consuming healthy foods will improve depression, anxiety and other negative feelings. Eat plenty of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables and lean cuts of meat. Avoid highly processed foods loaded with sugar, salt, preservatives and other additives. For instance, scientists have found lower levels of Vitamin B12 can lead to depression.

3. Keep a Daily Journal

Keeping a diary is one of the simplest and most effective ways of taking care of your mental health. The process of writing is cathartic. You can write about events in your life and identify issues ‌you didn’t recognize at the time. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, keeping a diary can help you:

Reduce stress

Cope with depression

Manage anxiety

Journaling also helps you to control your mood and symptoms. They also allow you to remember details about what happened.

Allows you to process your feelings.

Provides an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behavioral patterns

Allows you to speak about your problems, concerns, and fears

Helps you to keep track of your daily symptoms so you can identify triggers

Finding better solutions to your problems

Once you’ve identified what’s causing stress and anxiety in your life, you can make a plan to solve your problems and improve your mental health. For tips on how to write a diary, read The Write Practice’s How to Write a Journal.

4. Build Better Relationships with Other People

Nearly half of Americans say that they are lonely. When you don’t have real connections with other people, it can have a significant impact on your health. A Brigham Young University study found loneliness can shorten a person’s life by 15 years. It has the same effect as smoking 15 cigarettes each day or being obese.

Feelings of loneliness affect a person because it increases stress levels, which are associated with a wide range of health issues like heart attacks, cancers. Lonely people are also more likely to suffer from insomnia, depression and drug abuse. Maintaining strong relationships with others can support your mental health. People are naturally social and need connections with other people to protect them against the side effects of stress and anxiety.

Your friendships and bonds can protect you against stress or harmful situations. It is also important to include different relationships in your life besides friends and family members. You can become involved In helping your community or neighborhood. For instance, you can volunteer for an animal welfare group or other hobbies that you enjoy.

5. Develop a sense of purpose in life

You can develop a more meaningful life by pursuing activities you enjoy. For instance, you can volunteer with an organization whose mission you support. You can also learn a new skill and explore your spirituality.

6. Eliminate Addictive Habits

Another step you can take to improve your mental health is to drop bad habits that can damage your health or mental wellbeing. These include addictive habits like overeating, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. These habits can boost stress levels within your body and trigger depression and tension. You can join support groups to help you break these habits.

7. Help Other People

Some people don’t realize how much joy they can receive by helping others. If you have a good relationship with your relatives, you can help those within your family. Ask your children, parents, or grandparents if you can help them with a project. You can also volunteer with local churches, charities and nonprofits within your area.

8. Surround yourself with Positive People

The people in your lives can affect your mental health. Toxic friends and relatives can negatively impact your mental well-being. When you surround yourself with positive people, you’re more likely to adopt empowering beliefs that will help you feel happier. These are individuals who are focused on producing results and will never allow you to settle for something less than you deserve. They will also help you to feel better about yourself and your long-term goals.

9. Limit Your Screen Time

For many people, getting away from all technical devices feels almost impossible. Experts say people should spend two hours a day or less in front of a screen unless it’s work or homework-related. Screens include time in front of televisions, computers, phones, tablets and other devices. Instead of watching a screen, get physical activity instead.

10. Practice Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are practices that you can follow to produce a restful response in your body. It lowers your tension, stress, and anxiety. These technicians also slow down your heart rate and breathing. It also reduces muscle strain. Biofeedback – This technique uses electronic devices to teach you how to control certain body functions. These include your breathing, heart rate, and muscles.

Self-hypnosis – It helps you to relax by getting you into a trance-like state. You’ll slip into this state when you see a visual cue or hear a suggestion.

Guided imagery - During this method, you’ll focus on positive imagery that will help you get into a focused, relaxed state.

Progressive relaxation – You’ll relax different muscles while using breathing exercises or mental imagery.

Deep breathing exercises – It involves taking measured, deep breaths to achieve relaxation.

11. Meditate

Meditation is a technique that allows you to learn how to focus your attention and awareness in everyday situations. There are many meditative techniques and practices, including mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation. The practice usually involves: Finding a quiet location with few distractions.

Settle into a comfortable posture. It can include sitting down, lying on your bed, walking, or another position.

Counting your breaths (when you breathe in). Count one to four, then begin again. Don’t judge the thoughts that arise within. If your mind wanders, refocus your attention. Eventually, your mind will settle down.

12. Practice Gratitude

Taking time to be grateful for the good things in your life can help improve your mental outlook. One way you can do this is by incorporating a daily practice of gratitude within your life. Every day, write down a list of things you’re grateful for in your life. Give thanks for the big things within your life, such as raises, promotions or other achievements in your life. It can also be smaller things, like seeing a friend over dinner, speaking to a relative, or cuddling with a pet. Practicing gratitude can also help you recognize your positive emotions and moments.

13. Minimize How Much News You Consume

Most people watch the news to stay informed about what’s taking place in the world. Unfortunately, this information can also affect your mental health. It can make you feel anxious, afraid or irritable, depending on the day’s events. If you’re suffering from mental health issues, reduce how much negative news and information you consume to once or twice a day.

14. Establish a Routine

When you suffer from depression, you may not feel like keeping a regular schedule. But keeping a routine can have a positive effect on your mental health, especially if you cannot go out. Here are some tips you can follow to establish a routine in your life. Wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day

Keep up your personal hygiene

Eat regular meals throughout the day

Exercise every day

Set aside time or work, play, and resting

Make time to do the things you love the most.

15. Check in With Yourself

You could suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression and don’t even know it. Try to check on your mental health throughout the day to keep tabs on what you’re doing. For instance: Am I drinking more than I used to drink?

Has my appetite changed? Have I gained or lost weight?

Do I have more or less energy than I once did?

Are the people closest to me commenting about changes in my mood or behavior?

Do I feel more irritated, angry, or combative than normal?

Do I have the same interest in everything I once did?

16. See a Therapist

Another thing you can do to improve your mental health is to see a qualified mental health therapist. You can ask your friends or relatives who are undergoing therapy for recommendations to see a therapist.

You can also search for a therapist using Psychology Today’s website. Look for a therapist you would seem comfortable with by looking at your therapist’s credentials and photograph. You can tell within a few sessions if you feel comfortable working with this person. For more details about how to select a therapist, visit this page.

You’ll also need a good insurance plan to pay for your therapy sessions. If your plan doesn’t pay for these visits, you use SmartFinancial to search for one that's right for you. You’ll only need to fill out a short form, and we’ll provide you with a list of coverage and quotes from different insurance providers within your area. SmartFinancial is a quick and easy way to find insurance coverage at a good price

Get a Free Health Insurance Quote Online Now.

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