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10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

Mental health is an essential part of life that often gets overlooked. It can be hard to identify what mental health means or how to improve it, but with this article you will have some basic information on the subject and what you can do to be more mentally and emotionally healthy.

It's true that as a society we are making strides to better accept, and treat, our mental health needs just like any other physical health need we may have. We are also reducing the stigma associated with mental health needs. As we watch those around us: friends, family, co-workers, and others, we all know multiple people or are dealing with or suffer from the effects of depression, anxiety, addictive behaviors, and more. With suicide on the rise with our youth, active military, veterans, and others, we are all well aware of the need to address these issues head on. While this list isn't the end all be all for addressing our mental health, they are very actionable things the majority of us can do on a daily basis.

mental health, anxiety, depression, addiction, suicide prevention

Get enough sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial to maintain a healthy mind and body. When you don't get the right amount of sleep, not only does it affect your mental health but your physical health as well. If you don't get the right amount of sleep, you may find yourself slow and unable to focus. So, before you go to bed, make sure you aren't consuming caffeine or any kind of stimulant. You should also be winding down and relaxing before going to sleep because stress will keep your brain awake.

Unfortunately, we treat sleep as an afterthought in the course of our day, week, month and life. It is rare for us to say, "I know I need seven hours of sleep so I better get in bed by nine so I can read and relax for an hour before turning off the light at ten so I can get my seven hours in and be up by 5am and go to the gym and start my day." What we do tell ourselves is "I have so much to do and I'm only going get to five hours of sleep tonight." And because we go to bed tired and stressed, those five hours really end up being only 4.5 hours. Lack of sleep has a trickle-down effect that impacts our day, our work, our relationships and more.

Remember this... If you aren't getting enough sleep, you aren't getting enough.



Hours per Day (including Naps)


0 - 3 Months

14 - 17 Hours per Day


4 - 12 Months

12 - 16 Hours per Day


1 - 2 Years

11 - 14 Hours per Day


3 - 5 Years

10 - 13 Hours per Day

School Age

6 - 12 Years

9 - 12 Hours per Day


13 - 18 Years

8 - 10 Hours per Day


18 - 60 Years

7 Hours or More per Night


61 - 64 Years

7 - 9 Hours per Night


65 Years +

7 - 8 Hours per Night

  • The above information was shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with reported information from the National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Sleep, rest, exhausted,
Lack of sleep has a trickle-down effect that impacts our day, our work, our relationships and more.

Exercise regularly

exercise, physical health, endorphins, run, walk

Exercise is a great way to improve mental health but it's also the best thing that you can do for your physical health. Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good. Not only does exercise improve your mood but it can also help treat depression and anxiety.

Clearly something is better than nothing. So, if you aren't currently exercising on a regular basis, you just need to start. For some people that will just be walking three times a week. For others, it is increasing the duration or intensity of your workouts. If you're working out three days a week, make four or five days. I think most people understand and agree that working out six days a week is ideal. However, life will continue to throw you curveballs during your weekly schedule and you won't be able to make it. Fine. Don't beat yourself up. Count it as an extra rest so your body can recuperate and know you can go back the next day and push it just a little harder. To whatever extent you are (or are not) exercising, take a step forward and stretch yourself. Remember cardio is great for strengthening your heart and lungs. Weightlifting is great for your muscles and bone density. The older you get the more you should stay active. Make it a part of who you are and your normal day. Some people like to work out alone, while others need a partner to make it happen. Do what works for you!

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is important for both your mental and physical health. Eating unhealthy foods will not only make you feel sluggish and sick, but it will also have a negative impact on your mental well-being. Eating healthy foods, on the other hand, will make you feel energetic and spry. Some of the best foods to eat for mental health are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.

I think it goes without saying that most of us could improve in the food consumption department. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to make those decisions at the right time, while for some, it is thrust upon us. For some it's diabetes, for others it's heart disease or cancer. For me it was MS. But as I came to understand my disease better, I came to know the things I should and shouldn't eat. For example... I know now that I should eat little to no sugar because it causes inflammation in my body and exacerbates my systems which inevitably leads to discomfort or pain. A healthy diet is vital for my ongoing health and wellbeing. I'm good most of the time but every once in a while, I indulge. We all gotta live a little, right?!

While most people aren't dealing with autoimmune issues (even though they are on the rise) we all need to watch what we eat. It's clear we aren't getting our thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Not to mention the reduced nutritional value of fruits and vegetables due to mass farming, soil depletion and more. But those are discussions for another day. What we need to focus on is that one simple change. For some it's reducing the amount of sugar, fried foods, or other less than ideal things we consume. For others it may be deciding to eat vegetarian food one day a week. And for others it may be just increasing the good things they already eat. Whatever it is, take that one step.

Healthy Eating, fruits, vegetables, noodles, protein,

The better we eat, the better we feel. The better we feel, the better we eat. See what I did there? Do what works for you but start today!