When we think about what we can do, or should do, to take better care of ourselves, we often jump to thinking about our physical body and how we need to rearrange our schedules or wake up hours earlier to find enough time for a trip to the gym or to prepare healthier home-cooked meals, but what if you could boost your happiness, improve your immune system, prolong your life, ease your stress and increase your productivity with just a few minutes a day, without leaving the comfort of your home or office?
Your physical health may be important, but equally important is your mental health. While there are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your mental wellbeing, such as getting more sleep, being more active and avoiding alcohol and other drugs, there are also many smaller things you can begin doing today, and every day, to improve your mental health, reap the benefits and better prepare yourself for life’s bigger challenges.
9 Easy Things You Can Do Daily for Your Mental Health
These are all things you can easily incorporate into your daily routine with just a few short minutes and minimal effort. Taking small steps like these toward better mental health can be fun and may even set the stage for bigger and better changes in your life. Make sure to always consult with your mental health professional before adopting any new therapeutic practices.
We’ve scoured the internet and selected a few of the quick, fun and easy things you can do for a #MentalHealthMoment, but first, coffee!
Start your day with a cup of coffee
Studies have found that the caffeine present in coffee contributes to significant decreases in a person’s risk of depression. The caffeine present in tea also has protective effects against depression, but is less effective than coffee.
Indulge in some dark chocolate
Studies have found that regular consumption of dark chocolate significantly lowers the odds of clinically relevant depressive symptoms. In a cross-sectional survey of over 13,000 US adults, people who ate dark chocolate in the past 24 hours were 70% less likely to report depression. It doesn’t take much to achieve these positive effects – the dark chocolate consumers in the study ate a little less than half an ounce. To maximize the health benefits, try eating dark chocolate made of 70% cocoa or more. This minimizes your calorie and sugar intake.
Journal your way to mental health
Get it out of your head and onto paper! Studies have found expressive writing to be a useful therapeutic tool for survivors of trauma and in psychiatric settings. Journaling can boost your mood, enhance your sense of well being and reduce symptoms of depression.
Soak up the sun
Studies have found that the rate of serotonin production in the brain is directly related to the duration of bright sunlight on any given day, with higher levels on bright days than on overcast or cloudy ones.
Studies have found that creative expression and exposure to the arts have wide-ranging effects on cognitive and psychosocial health. Engaging in art activities may even delay cognitive decline in very old age.
Connect with Nature
Studies have found that taking a walk through nature produces measurable benefits for your mental health and may even reduce the risk of depression. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that participants who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area showed decreased activity in the region of the brain associated with depression when compared to people who walked in a high-traffic urban setting.
Dance like no one is watching
Studies have found that dancing is a mood booster and improves mental health and cognitive skills, with positive effects lasting long after the music has stopped.
Laugh it up
Studies have found that laughter activates and then relieves your stress response, as well as triggers the release of endorphins, leading to positive, relaxed feelings and soothed tension.
Play with Your Pets
Studies have found that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets and playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.