8 ways to boost your mental health every day

By Bonusprint on 13 May 2024

Looking for a few simple ways to boost your mental health? As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re sharing eight easy, effective tips to enhance your well-being. From soaking up some natural sun to connecting with loved ones, discover small practices that can make a big difference in your daily life.

Imagine this: It’s early morning, and the first light of the day gently filters through your window. You pause, taking a deep breath, feeling the quiet promise of a new day. It’s a moment of peace, a small ritual that helps set the tone for your day. Yet, for many of us, such moments are elusive, overshadowed by the stresses and strains of daily life. Mental health is more than a buzzword; it’s a vital component of our lives, profoundly influencing how we think, feel, and interact with the world around us.

Mental health impacts us all

In today’s fast-paced world, prioritising mental health is not just important; it’s essential. Our challenges, from personal pressures to global uncertainties, can deeply impact our mental well-being. Understanding and nurturing our mental health can lead to greater resilience, better relationships, and a deeper sense of contentment.

As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week, let’s explore actionable ways to enhance our mental well-being. These simple, effective strategies are steps toward surviving and thriving in our everyday lives.

1. See the sunshine

Exposure to natural light can significantly boost your mood, enhance your sleep quality, and increase your vitamin D levels, essential for regulating mood and warding off depression. Remember, outdoor light can have benefits even on cloudy days, so don’t shy away from stepping outside, whatever the weather.

A great tip is to start your day with exposure to natural sunlight: Open your curtains first thing in the morning, or enjoy your morning coffee or tea outside. Just a few minutes of morning sun can signal your body to wake up and regulate your natural circadian rhythms, promoting better sleep at night.

2. Move your body

Regular physical activity is a critical component of mental health, offering a natural antidote to stress, anxiety, and depression. It stimulates the production of endorphins, often known as those ‘feel-good’ hormones, which can create feelings of happiness and euphoria. The key to sustaining physical activity is to find forms of exercise you enjoy. If you dread the gym, don’t force yourself to go; find something else that gets you moving and uplifts your spirit.

Dance it out: Put on your favourite playlist and dance around your living room. Dancing is not only fun but also an excellent way to relieve stress and increase serotonin levels.

Walk and talk: Turn phone calls into walking opportunities. Instead of sitting down, walk around your home or take the call outside for a walk around the block. This small change can significantly increase your daily step count and improve your focus and creativity.

Schedule it: Treat your workout time like any important appointment. Block out time in your calendar for physical activity, whether a yoga class, a gym session, or just a brisk walk in the park. Having it scheduled can increase your commitment to staying active.

3. Try simple meditation

Forget the mountain-top guru image; meditation is accessible to everyone. Meditation is a powerful tool for mental health, known to reduce stress, enhance concentration, and promote a greater sense of peace and well-being. Consistency is key when it comes to meditation. Try to meditate at the same time each day to establish it as a part of your routine, whether first thing in the morning, during a lunch break, or right before bed.

Guided meditation: Make the most of amazing apps like Headspace or Calm, which offer guided sessions for beginners. These guides can help you navigate the basics of meditation, making the practice approachable and straightforward. Starting with as little as five minutes a day can lead to significant benefits.

Breathing exercises: If you find guided meditation too structured, try simple breathing exercises. Focus on taking slow, deep breaths, counting to four as you inhale, holding for four seconds, and exhaling for four seconds. Repeat at least five times and notice how you feel after. This technique can quickly help reduce stress in times of panic or anxiety and refocus your mind.

Mindful moments: Incorporate mindfulness into routine activities. Whether it’s while drinking your morning coffee or taking a shower, pay attention to the sensations of the moment without judgment. This practice of awareness can cultivate a meditative mindset throughout your day.

4. Stay hydrated

It may sound simple, but keeping hydrated is crucial for optimal brain function and overall mental health. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, irritability, and reduced cognitive functions, making daily tasks feel more challenging. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can impair mood, memory, and brain performance. So how can you make sure you’re getting enough H2O?

Start your day with water: Begin each morning with a glass of water. This kickstarts hydration for the day, especially after the overnight period when you don’t consume any liquids.

Carry a water bottle: Keep a water bottle with you as a visual reminder to drink water throughout the day. Choose a bottle you like and consider marking it with hourly intake goals to make hydrating more interactive and fun.

Enhance your water: If you find plain water a bit boring, add natural flavourings like slices of lemon, cucumber, or a splash of fruit juice. This can make drinking water more enjoyable and help you consume more throughout the day.

5. Connect with loved ones

Social connections are so important and can increase our sense of belonging, improve self-confidence, and reduce stress and anxiety. By actively maintaining and nurturing these relationships, you contribute to a support network that benefits everyone involved, enhancing not just your own mental health but also that of your loved ones.

Regular catch-ups: Make it a point to schedule regular calls or meet-ups with friends and family. These consistent interactions, whether a weekly video call or coffee catch-ups, can provide vital support and a sense of joy that is difficult to find elsewhere.

Be present: Try to be fully present when you’re with loved ones. Put away your phone and other distractions. This not only enhances the quality of your interactions but also deepens your relationships.

Share your feelings: Don’t hesitate to share your concerns and feelings. Opening up can be therapeutic and can also encourage others to share, creating a mutual support network. Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved.

6. Eat well

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’? Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals help combat stress and are natural mood boosters. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins are essential for regulating neurotransmitters and reducing inflammation, both of which play a role in mental health. By making informed food choices, you can support your mental well-being and improve your overall health.

Plan balanced meals: Include a variety of nutrient-rich foods in every meal. For instance, combine leafy greens, colourful vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to ensure a wide range of nutrients that support brain health.

Snack smart: Choose healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, fruits, or yoghurt instead of high-sugar options. These provide a steady source of energy that keeps your mood stable throughout the day.

Cook at home: Preparing meals at home can help you better control the quality and freshness of the food you eat. Try out new recipes incorporating ingredients like oily fish, walnuts, and blueberries, known for their brain-boosting properties.

7. Practice yoga

Scroll past the Insta-yogis bent into impossible postures: yoga is a powerful philosophical practice that is truly for everybody. Yoga unites the body, mind, and spirit, promoting both physical and mental health. It reduces stress, increases body awareness, and even helps with anxiety and depression. By making yoga a regular part of your routine, you invest in a discipline that nurtures both body and mind, fostering a sense of peace that permeates all aspects of life.

Start with beginner-friendly classes: If you’re new to yoga or seeking inspiration, try Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, which offers a variety of sessions for all levels. Starting with simple poses like Child’s Pose, Downward Dog, or a Sun Salutation flow can help build confidence and familiarity with the practice.

Create a dedicated space: Set up a small, inviting area in your home where you can practice yoga undisturbed. Having a dedicated space can make your practice more enjoyable and something to look forward to.

Join a community: Whether it’s an online community or a local yoga studio, being part of a group can provide support and motivation. It’s also a great way to learn from others and improve your practice.

8. Limit screen time

In today’s digital age, excessive screen time can lead to mental fatigue, disrupt sleep patterns, and increase feelings of anxiety and isolation. Establishing boundaries with your electronic devices – from your work laptop to your social media platforms – is crucial for maintaining good mental health. It can help you regain control over your time and contribute to better sleep and reduced stress.

Establish digital-free zones: Implement rules requiring electronic devices to be turned off during meals or in the bedroom. This can help you focus on face-to-face interactions and ensure that your sleep environment promotes rest.

Use apps to monitor usage: So many (free!) apps can help you track and manage the amount of time you spend on your devices. Setting limits on specific apps can significantly decrease your daily screen time.

Create tech-free times: Designate daily periods, especially before bedtime, to disconnect from all digital devices. A great one to get started with is to switch off all screens at least an hour before sleep to help your mind unwind and improve your night’s rest.

European Mental Health Week reminds us of the importance of caring for our mental well-being. Remember that caring for your mental health is a journey, not a destination, and there will be highs and lows along the way. Each small step you take is a step towards a healthier, happier and more fulfilled you. Let’s commit to integrating these practices into our daily routines, enhancing our quality of life and enriching our communities.

Celebrate each victory on your path to better mental health – each step is worth it. And remember, if you’re struggling with your mental health, never be afraid to seek professional advice.