Mental health is a major issue in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adults experiences some form of mental illness in a given year and nearly one in 10 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Mental illness can have a devastating impact on individuals, families, and communities. It can also be costly: In 2013, total U.S. spending on mental health services was $201 billion, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The good news is that mental health problems are highly treatable — and it’s never too early or too late to start taking steps toward better mental health. There are some science-backed ways to boost mental health.
Here are some tips to boost your mental health:
1. Learn a new language to boost mental health
Learning a new language can be a powerful way to change the way you think. The act of learning requires you to build new neural pathways in your brain and alter how you perceive the world.
The more languages you speak, the better your memory will be. A study conducted by Northwestern University found that bilingual people are able to perform better in memory tests than monolinguals, even if they began learning their second language later in life. In addition, researchers from Georgetown University found that bilingual children show superior executive function — which includes problem-solving, planning, and decision-making — compared with monolinguals of the same age group.
Learning a new language also helps boost mental health. A study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology found that people who learned a new language had lower levels of depression and anxiety than people who didn’t learn a new language.
Bilingualism also has been proven to delay cognitive decline by up to five years compared with monolingualism, according to research published in the British Medical Journal Open. The study looked at more than 3,200 participants between the ages 55 and 80 who were assessed for cognitive impairment over three years. Those who spoke two or more languages experienced slower declines in overall cognitive function compared with those who spoke only one language or none.
2. Take a class online.
If you’ve ever taken a class online, you know how immersive and engaging it can be. Now, there’s growing evidence that this kind of virtual learning can have a positive impact on boosting your mental health. In a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, researchers from the National University of Singapore found that people who took an online course on mindfulness were less likely to experience psychological distress than those who didn’t take the course.
The researchers also found that participants who had higher levels of stress at the beginning of the study registered lower levels after taking the class. The results suggest that online courses could be a useful tool for improving mental health among people with low levels of education or financial resources.
3. Pick up an old hobby or take up a new one.
The benefits of picking up a new hobby are endless. It will help you stay mentally healthy and give you an excuse to get out of the house. Plus, it’s fun! What’s better than that?
If you’re feeling down, it’s natural to want to hide out in bed, binge-watch Netflix, or just vegetate. But experts say that getting out of your comfort zone and pursuing a hobby can boost your mental health and even help treat depression.
“Hobbies are a good way to relieve stress and negative emotions,” says Dr. Michael R. Liebowitz, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and author of “The Chemistry of Love.” They can also be a healthy way to connect with others who share your interests, he says.
Many hobbies help you express yourself creatively and boost your confidence through accomplishment — for example, creating art or writing music — which can make you feel good about yourself and thus improve your mood, Liebowitz says.
And if you’re already depressed or anxious? Hobbies may help reduce those feelings by distracting you from negative thoughts and feelings, he says.
4. Do simple chores to boost mental health
Simple chores like cleaning out your bathroom cabinet and organizing it can boost mental health, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that when people are faced with a stressful situation, they’re more likely to cope by doing household chores.
This could be because they feel better after completing the task, or they simply want to help their environment become more organized and tidy. The research team noted that even just thinking about doing a task has been shown to reduce stress.
“In fact, we’ve known for quite some time that even deciding to do something is enough to improve your mood,” said co-author Dr. Michael Ross in a news release from UBC University’s Department of Psychology. “It seems like once you make the decision to do something positive like cleaning or organizing, it makes you feel better.”
5. Make a list of things you’re grateful for every day.
You may not have time to make a list of things you’re grateful for every day, but it’s a great way to boost your mental health.
It can help you be more positive, and less anxious and improve your sleep habits.
A study published in “Mindfulness” found that people who kept gratitude journals reported fewer physical symptoms and improved sleep quality.
“The evidence suggests that gratitude is an effective intervention for increasing well-being,” said Dr. Michael McColl, an associate professor of psychology at York University in Toronto and co-author of the paper. “I think there are several reasons for this finding.”
Gratitude improves sleep because it reduces stress by helping you focus on what’s going right in your life rather than what’s going wrong, according to McColl.
6. Give back to the community.
Volunteering is a great way to improve your mental health. In fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and boost mental health, says psychologist Darrin Lehman.
“When you volunteer you’re feeling good about yourself,” he said. “You’re helping other people, which makes you feel good about yourself.”
Lehman, who is based in Abbotsford, B.C., said that volunteering has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety in many studies.
The benefits aren’t just psychological — they’re physical too. Studies have shown that people who volunteer live longer than those who don’t. Volunteers have lower rates of heart disease and stroke as well as fewer visits to the doctor and hospitalizations for chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma.
Volunteering also helps people connect with others through social activities that are essential to mental health, said Dr. Jennifer Haythorne, a psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont. She cites studies showing that social isolation can have a negative impact on mood and well-being.
But volunteering isn’t just about making yourself feel better; it can also make someone else feel better too — especially when you do something difficult or challenging like working with people with special needs or the elderly.
7. Try something new every week.
You can’t expect to be happy if you don’t take the time to try new things. You have to step out of your comfort zone to see what else is out there.
The best way to do this is by trying something new every week. If you keep it up, you’ll start building a life full of experiences and memories, and you’ll be much happier.
Here are some ideas:
- Learn a new skill or language.
- Take up a sport or hobby.
- Go on an adventure somewhere new.
- Learn to draw or paint (or both).
- Change your hairstyle or color.
Trying new things not only makes us happier but also boosts our mental health in the process!
8. Learn how to meditate.
When you think of meditation, you may imagine yogis sitting cross-legged in the mountains or monks chanting in silent temples. But meditation is more than just a spiritual practice; it’s also a way to improve your mental health and well-being.
Meditation has been shown to improve cognitive function, reduce stress and anxiety, help people sleep better, and boost their mental health. It can also reduce pain, depression, and insomnia — all of which can have an effect on your physical health as well.
There are many different types of meditation: some involve focusing on your breathing, and others involve repeating a mantra silently in your head or out loud. Some are about closing your eyes and being still while others involve looking at an object or listening to music. Most forms of meditation take 10 minutes or less.
Even if you don’t consider yourself religious, meditation has been shown to increase spirituality by helping people connect with their inner selves and find meaning in life beyond material possessions and success.
9. Set aside time to eat and enjoy your meal.
The way you eat, and the frequency with which you eat, can affect your mental health. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t think about what you’re eating until it’s time for your next meal. But if you’re trying to manage depression or anxiety, it’s important to be mindful of what goes into your mouth — and when.
Eating too fast can cause problems with digestion and may lead to weight gain. The more you eat in a sitting, the more calories and fat are consumed, making it harder to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating slowly gives your body time to register that it’s full and reduces the amount of food consumed in one sitting. This can help prevent overeating and weight gain.
Eating at set times each day — whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner — is associated with increased feelings of satisfaction, control over food intake, and decreased risk of developing eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Eat the right foods in the right way at the right time to boost your mental health.
10. Create a morning routine, and stick to it as closely as possible.
A morning routine can help you set the tone for the rest of your day. It’s a chance to get into a positive mindset and start off with good intentions.
What are the benefits of creating a morning routine?
A morning routine is an opportunity to set yourself up for success. It helps you set aside time for yourself, which is especially important when you’re busy with work or school. It also helps you transition from being asleep to being awake, which can help you feel more prepared for what lies ahead in the day. Creating a morning routine helps you accomplish more and boosts your mental health.
11. Read more books that teach you things you want to know.
Reading has been shown to improve memory and concentration, increase vocabulary skills and even reduce stress levels. It’s no wonder that so many people read books to help improve their mental health. Reading books is one of the best ways to learn new things, and it can also be good for your mental health.
Reading can be a great way to improve your mental health, whether it’s by learning new things or spending time with fictional characters.
Here are some books that will teach you things you want to know — and make you feel happier in the process.
- “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
If you’re looking for a book on communication, this is the one. Carnegie’s classic book was first published in 1937 and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide since then. It’s still relevant today because it teaches basic principles of persuasion and influence that have stood the test of time.
- “Insight Out: The Young Person’s Guide To Living With Mental Health Problems” by Emma Kelly
This book provides insights into living with mental health problems from a young person’s point of view — but it shouldn’t be restricted to just young people; anyone who wants to understand these issues better should read this book too. The author shares her own experiences as well as those of other young people who have struggled with mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders. The book covers everything from what happens when someone develops depression at age two to how the media portrays mental illness.
12. Take a walk.
A brisk walk in the fresh air is one of life’s simplest pleasures. It can be done anywhere, anytime and doesn’t cost a thing. Walking has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood and even boost your mental health.
Studies have shown that walking can reduce stress by up to 68 percent and improve mood by up to 41 percent. Walking may also help people sleep better, which is important because poor sleep quality has been linked to depression.
Walking can also improve brain function and memory, according to research published in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory in 2015. The study involved 40 healthy adults who were randomly assigned to either walk at a moderate pace on a treadmill or sit quietly for 90 minutes while completing word puzzles requiring them to think outside the box (for example, rearranging letters in the word “jump” so it becomes “jumps”).
The participants’ brains were scanned before and after both activities using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). When compared with those who sat quietly, those who walked had more activity in areas of their brains related to learning and memory — including the hippocampus, which plays an important role in long-term memory formation and spatial navigation;
13. Listen to music.
Listening to music is a great way to boost mental health. It helps you relax, relieves stress and anxiety, and can even lower the risk of depression. Music therapy is a popular treatment for many mental health disorders. It can help people with schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. It can also be used to help treat eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders.
Music has been found to have effects on our brains that go beyond relaxation or enjoyment. Listening to music activates the brain’s reward system by releasing dopamine in an area called the nucleus accumbens. This is the same area that responds to recreational drugs like cocaine or amphetamines. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation — it makes us feel good when we eat chocolate because it activates this part of our brain too!
14. Connect with others.
When you feel alone and isolated, it can be hard to find the motivation to stay positive. But connecting with people is one of the best things you can do for boosting your mental health.
There’s no doubt that having good relationships with others is important for your well-being. It makes us feel valued, loved and supported. And it’s not just about romantic relationships: We all need some level of connection with others throughout our lives.
But what if you’re feeling down, depressed or anxious? This can make it difficult to reach out to others and engage in social activities — whether it’s hanging out with friends or going out for dinner with family members.
When you’re struggling with your mental health, there are still lots of ways you can connect with others and help yourself feel better. Here are some ideas:
Call a friend or family member who makes you feel good when they’re around! You don’t have to limit this activity to those closest to you; even people who aren’t close friends often appreciate hearing from someone they care about when they’re feeling down. If that seems too intimidating, why not try reaching out to someone at random? You might be surprised by how happy they are to hear from someone who cares about them.
15. Eat nutritious meals and get enough exercise to stay healthy.
Eating a nutritious diet and getting enough exercise can help you feel better mentally as well as physically. Eating well and exercising are two of the most important ways we can promote our mental health.
Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups every day. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans. Choose lean meats like chicken or fish instead of red meat. Choose low-fat dairy products rather than high-fat ones like cheese and butter. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation — no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. Limit your intake of sugars, fats, and salt.
Exercise regularly by walking for 30 minutes at least five days a week or doing other activities that cause you to break into a sweat such as swimming or biking. Getting regular exercise helps reduce stress levels and improves sleep quality, moods, and general feelings of well-being.
16. Practice self-compassion
Self-compassion is the idea that we can be kind and caring towards ourselves when we suffer. It involves being gentle, non-judgmental, and understanding with ourselves in difficult times, rather than being harsh or critical. Self-compassion has been shown to be linked with greater happiness and well-being; it boosts our ability to savor positive experiences and cope with negative ones.
It helps us deal with stress better, by encouraging us to take more personal responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings. This can help us to boost our mental health by helping us to stop blaming ourselves for everything that goes wrong.
It’s easy to forget that the body has several systems — physiological, metabolic, hormonal, and of course, psychological. And it’s the latter that this post is all about. What a lot of people don’t realize is that mental health can do your physical health wonders.
It’s not just about feeling good; it’s about being healthy too. If you want to live a longer, happier life, then consider what you can do to boost your mental health as well.
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Disclaimer: The information and advice contained in our articles are intended for general informational purposes only. The content on our site does not provide any medical advice and only reflects the opinion of writers. You should always consult a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health or wellbeing.