Mental health is just important as physical health, if not more. And it deserves just as much attention. About one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness each year, and depression accounts for 400 million lost work days each year. If you get a cut on your hand, would you brush it off and say “maybe it’s all in my head?” Rather, you would find a band-aid and tend to the injury. The same should be the case for mental health. Rather than brushing it aside until a big problem occurs, it’s important to implement preventative measures that improve your mental health day to day. Here are a few tips about how to improve mental health. 

Disclaimer: 

If you are suffering from a mental health condition, speaking to a loved one and seeing a doctor is the route you should go. These tips are not meant to diagnose or treat any disorder, but rather to improve general mental health overall in your day to day life. If you have concerns about your mental health, start by reaching out to a loved one you trust. 

Start your morning right.

Our mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. But unfortunately, this often starts us on the wrong path leading to comparison, anxiety, heaviness and low mood. A lot of this comes with the common habit of scrolling through social media first thing in the morning. 90% of college-age adults compare themselves to peers within 15 minutes of waking up. And that doesn’t stop when you put the phone down. Rather than letting those first 15 minutes cause anxiety and sadness throughout the day, change that habit.

Check your notifications, but leave it at that. Open a motivational book and read a short section – try a spiritual devotional or The Daily Stoic. Play your favorite music while you get ready, and make time for a healthy but tasty breakfast. It’s the little details of your morning that put you in a positive mindset for the rest of the day, so that’s a way to improve mental health. 

Do things you’re good at.  

In order to keep yourself mentally healthy, self confidence is an important skill to have. Yes, skill – it can be learned even if you aren’t innately confident. One tip for how to improve both mental health and confidence is to learn your strengths and make time to use them in your day. For example, if you’re talented at music, set aside a half hour each night to develop that aspect of yourself. The same goes for a strength of creative writing, painting, cooking, or whatever it is. Doing things you’re good at gives you a confidence boost, and will slowly build that sense of self worth. 

Pay it forward.

Doing something kind for someone arguably helps us more than it helps them. Pay for a stranger’s coffee, buy a loved one a small gift, or compliment a stranger. These are mood boosters that help your mental health and spread positivity by making someone else’s day. Win win!

Maintain good physical health.

Physical and mental health are dependent on each other. A turn for the worse in one can affect the other. This means getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night at least. Also, watch your hydration by drinking enough water throughout the day and eating a (mostly) healthy, balanced diet. Be active, walking when you can and aiming to get some activity in your day. Keeping your physical health in check gives you the best shot at being mentally healthy. If you’re starting to feel down, reflect on if you can improve in these areas.

With these tips on how to improve mental health also comes the disclaimer that mental health disorders need treatment just as much as physical ailments. If you’re looking to improve and preserve your general mental health, try these out to stay happy and healthy in your daily life.