Prevention is better than intervention. For optimal mental health, it’s vital to establish and maintain positive mental health habits which act as a buffer against negative life events and inevitable stressors.
When you reflect on how you’re taking care of your mental wellbeing, try to consider new habits that might be helpful for you.
Below you can find five simple and effective ideas for improving your mental wellbeing.
1. Check-In with Yourself
Checking-in with yourself gives you the opportunity to take a break and connect with yourself.
You’re essentially gathering valuable information while treating yourself like you would a dear friend.
This habit can be useful when a challenging emotion is starting to manifest, or when you’re doing an unhelpful behavior.
Invest 5 minutes every now and then during your day to simply check-in. Here are some questions to consider:
- How am I doing?
- Am I experiencing difficult emotions or thoughts?
- Am I doing some unhelpful behaviors?
- Is there something I need that I can offer myself?
2. Set Healthy Boundaries
Your needs and desires are important.
Expressing and fulfilling them means achieving a greater sense of balance and wellbeing.
This isn’t a simple process, as it involves balancing your needs with the ones of the people around you. For some of us, it can be a continuous source of distress.
One way to set boundaries is by creating a No List.
This type of list should contain activities and behaviors that you realize are negatively affecting your wellbeing and daily life.
Here are some simple examples to guide you:
- Not checking your email in the evening
- Not answering your phone during lunch or dinner
- Not attending events or gatherings you don’t like
- Not working on the weekend
- Not pressuring yourself to do something when you don’t have the resources and energy for it
3. Create a Rest Habit
Sometimes we put an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves in an attempt to be perfect, reach our goals quickly, and be constantly productive.
When we experience this type of pressure, we can forget to listen to our body’s and mind’s need for rest.
By not taking time to rest, you limit your capacity for positivity, creativity, and empathy.
You cannot show up as your best self for others without first showing up for yourself! And that means granting yourself permission to rest.
Rest, like sleep, is an essential human need. Recharging can therefore be thought of as a form of productivity!
Why not create a new rest habit? Simply decide on a dedicated time once a day or once a week to stop everything and rest.
4. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a strategy through which we express our appreciation for what we have in our lives.
Practicing gratitude helps you improve your wellbeing by overriding your innate negativity bias.
Like any other useful tool or technique, in order to fully enjoy its benefits, we need to practice it and transform it into a habit.
It’s easy to feel gratitude when something big happens, like getting a job promotion; but it’s more important to look at the small things that we sometimes take for granted, like having a meaningful conversation with a friend, or doing a small act of kindness.
You can use The Positive Emotions Journal in The Mental Wellbeing Toolkit to begin a gratitude habit.
5. Plan for Positive Emotions
For optimal mental health, it’s important to plan activities that will result in positive emotions.
Think about what brings you pleasure, satisfaction, excitement, relaxation, or any other positive feeling, emotion or state.
Try to do at least one pleasant activity every day. Plan and schedule these activities and then tick them off.
If you want to maximize and prolong your positive emotions, you can also give savoring a try.
To implement this strategy, first, try to identify what emotions you're feeling.
Is it joy, curiosity, gratitude, serenity, amusement? Where does it manifest in your body? What thoughts are accompanying it?
Name your emotion, look at its consequences, and allow it to manifest. When you see yourself moving away from that positive feeling, consciously try to get back to it. Stay in the present with your positive emotion as much as possible.
What are some positive mental health habits that you can start implementing?
- Check-in with yourself
- Set healthy boundaries
- Create a rest habit
- Practice gratitude
- Plan for positive emotions
About RoxanaRoxana Petrus is a psychologist and an emotional health specialist with a background in cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy. She currently supports amazing women in finding their emotional balance and improving their communication skills. She is located in Basel, Switzerland and works mostly online, offering individual sessions, different programs and workshops.