If we’ve learned anything as a society in the past couple of years, it’s that mental health is as important as physical health. It’s not just about short-term things that make you happy, like eating ice cream at the moment. It’s about long-term lifestyle changes and healthy habits that will set you up for success.
Here are five ways to help improve your mental health and wellbeing with habits and lifestyle changes that can make a huge difference.
1) Walk every day
You don’t have to invest in a Peloton or become a marathon runner. You just need to go outside and move your body. You don’t even need to go for long, just go. Walking and being outdoors improves your mood and even lowers your risk of diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
2) Phone a friend
Recent polls have shown us that loneliness was a global pandemic before the global pandemic, and now that loneliness is an even bigger problem. Americans especially are often isolated from their family and lack community.
Staying in touch with a good friend or family with regular phone calls can help you feel connected. Consider writing letters to friends too. Writing a letter is a relaxing activity that is screen-free, and it feels great to get something in the mail. You’ll feel better just by making someone else’s day.
3) Volunteer for something
When you’re feeling down, ask yourself, when was the last time you helped someone else. Helping others is proven to make you feel good. Furthermore, you’ll make friends and get out of the house on a regular basis, which per points 1 and 2 are very important.
People who help others feel better about their own situation and generally feel happier and more fulfilled.
4) Take care of something other than yourself
People who have pets like dogs or cats are happier, less lonely, and more active than people without pets. Dogs and cats will love you unconditionally and provide loyal companionship. If you have a home that doesn’t allow animals, like an apartment complex or a landlord who prefers no pets, you may be able to register your dog as an emotional support animal.
If you’re not ready to take on a commitment of an animal, start with a plant. Caring for a plant by watering it, cleaning the leaves, and trimming dry foliage is very satisfying. Watching a plant grow and caring for it helps you take better care of yourself.
5) Get dressed every day
Sometimes it feels like it will feel good to stay in sweatpants all day, but how your look affects how you feel. So, take a shower, shine your shoes. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, and put on some mascara, or whatever makes you feel good. Even if you have no plans to see any other people get dressed for yourself. It’s not about looking good for other people, it’s about self-care to feel great.
Doing any one of these things will help set you on the path to feeling better every day. Doing all five of these things, taking a walk, connecting with a loved one, looking out for others, and looking out for yourself will put you on the path to self-improvement.
And don’t worry about really doing everything every day. The idea is to do these things often. If you miss a day or miss a lot more than a day, just start up again.
If you’ve worn sweatpants all week, there’s no better day than today to put on a pair of jeans. If you haven’t left the couch, now is a good time as any to take a walk around your neighborhood.
Not ready to adopt a dog? Volunteer at your local shelter. Better yet, volunteer at a shelter with a friend, or make a new one. It’s a guaranteed way to lift your spirits.
Taking care of your physical health can be hard, but taking care of your mental health makes everything easier. Stress is the leading cause of disease, so treat your body well by taking better care of your mind and mental state.