17 small steps to improve mental health every day | Health - Hindustan Times

17 small steps to improve mental health every day

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
May 06, 2024 05:31 PM IST

Incorporate these small, actionable steps into your daily life and watch your mental health, mindset and overall well-being significantly improve

Mental health is a crucial component of overall well-being and adopting small daily practices can significantly contribute to its improvement. Incorporating these small, actionable steps into daily life can contribute significantly to improving mental health.

17 small steps to improve mental health every day (Image by Freepik)
17 small steps to improve mental health every day (Image by Freepik)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Saras Prasad, Consultant – Psychiatry at Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in Noida Extension, suggested the actionable steps that individuals can take to enhance their mental health on a daily basis -

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  1. Establishing a Consistent Sleep Routine:
    • Adequate sleep is paramount for mental health. Consistent sleep patterns regulate mood, cognition, and emotional stability.
    • Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, maintain a regular sleep schedule, and create a calming bedtime routine.
  2. Mindful Breathing and Relaxation Techniques:
    • Mindful breathing reduces stress, anxiety, and promotes a sense of calm. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, fostering relaxation.
    • Encourage practices such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to manage stress and enhance mental well-being.
  3. Physical Activity for Mental Health:
    • Regular exercise releases endorphins, which act as natural mood lifters. Physical activity is linked to improved cognitive function and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
    • Advocate for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week, tailored to individual preferences and abilities.
  4. Nutrition and Brain Health:
    • Nutrient-rich diets positively impact brain function and mental health. Certain vitamins and minerals play crucial roles in neurotransmitter synthesis.
    • Promote a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and omega-3 fatty acids to support cognitive function and emotional well-being.
  5. Social Connection and Support:
    • Social relationships are vital for mental health. Strong connections reduce feelings of isolation and contribute to emotional resilience.
    • Encourage individuals to maintain and nurture relationships, engage in social activities, and seek support when needed.
  6. Limiting Screen Time and Digital Detox:
    • Prolonged screen time, especially on social media, can negatively impact mental health by fostering comparison and exacerbating feelings of inadequacy.
    • We suggest regular breaks from screens, setting boundaries on social media use, and promoting face-to-face interactions for a healthier digital balance.
  7. Practicing Gratitude and Positive Affirmations:
    • Cultivating gratitude and positive affirmations can reframe negative thought patterns and enhance overall mental well-being.
    • Encourage the daily practice of gratitude journaling or reflecting on positive aspects of life to foster a positive mind-set.

It is essential to tailor these recommendations to individual needs and preferences, emphasising the importance of seeking professional guidance when necessary. Regular practice of these habits may lead to lasting positive effects on mental well-being.

Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Achal Bhagat, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, shared, “Taking care of your mental health is crucial for overall well-being and even small daily habits can make a significant difference. Incorporating these simple steps into your routine can help you cultivate a healthier mindset, reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life.” He recommended -

  1. Start your day with mindfulness: Begin each morning by taking a few deep breaths and practicing mindfulness meditation, even if it's just for five minutes. This simple exercise can help you cultivate a sense of calm and clarity, setting the tone for a more centered and focused day.
  2. Engage in physical activity: Regular exercise has been proven to boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, whether it's going for a brisk walk, doing Yoga, or hitting the gym.
  3. Prioritise self-care: Make time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, listening to uplifting music, or engaging in a hobby you enjoy.
  4. Practice reflection: it is possible to learn to reflect on the patterns of one’s thinking. One of ay of doing so is to journal everyday and revisit the journal at the end of the week. You will discover which of your thinking patterns are helpful and which are unhelpful.
  5. Connect with others: Maintaining social connections is crucial for mental well-being. Make an effort to reach out to friends and loved ones, whether it's through a phone call, video chat, or in-person gathering.
  6. Practice reflection: it is possible to learn to reflect on the patterns of one’s thinking. One of ay of doing so is to journal everyday and revisit the journal at the end of the week. You will discover which of your thinking patterns are helpful and which are unhelpful.
  7. Establish a healthy sleep routine: Adequate sleep is essential for mental and physical health. Aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night by establishing a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.
  8. Practice mindful eating: Pay attention to your eating habits and make an effort to consume a balanced, nutrient-rich diet. Certain foods can impact mood and energy levels, so choose nourishing options whenever possible.
  9. Engage in stress-reducing activities: Identify activities that help you unwind and decompress, such as journaling, practicing deep breathing exercises, or engaging in creative pursuits.
  10. Seek professional help when needed: If you're struggling with persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or other mental health concerns, don't hesitate to seek support from a qualified mental health professional.

Remember, improving mental health is an ongoing journey and it is essential to be patient and consistent with your efforts. By incorporating these small steps into your daily routine, you can cultivate a healthier, more balanced mindset and enhance your overall well-being.

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