The decision to become healthier often starts with a desire for physical change. However, the benefits of healthy living on your mental health are just as important. Here are five healthy habits to improve your mental health and easy changes you can make today!

Move Your Body to improve mental health

Move Your Body

Did you know daily activity improves both your physical and mental health? It’s true! Whether you spend hours pumping iron in the gym or end every day with a dance party in the living room, your brain releases hormones and chemicals that make you feel good. Not sure where to start? Try these healthy habits to improve your mental health and get 30 minutes of daily activity.

  • Take an active break. Whether you work the lunch rush, sit at a desk or carry a baby on your hip, you deserve a few breaks during the day. Get up, stretch your legs and do some quick exercises to get your blood flowing, refresh your brain and manage stress without disrupting your daily schedule too much.
  • Get active at home. You don’t need a pricey gym membership or professional equipment to get a workout in and feel good. Gather some household items for weight and resistance training. Stretch, shake and balance with some FREE at-home videos. You can even turn mundane tasks like washing your car and watching TV into a workout!
  • Move when your kids move. If you’re dropping your kids off at an after-school activity, use their practice time as your active time! Walk the track at the field or park, do calf raises on the bleachers or turn the sidewalk into your personal gym. Still have littles at home? Encourage them to move with you.

Use Food as Fuel to help improve your mental health.

Use Food as Fuel

Food groups affect your body in different ways. A balanced meal means your muscles and bones are getting the nutrients they need and will improve your mental health! Here are a few tips to help you understand your food and prep meals your body and your mind will love:

  • Read nutrition labels. Choosing healthy options makes you feel better … but what does that mean? Look for foods that are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber — and low in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Learning to decode a nutrition label is one of many healthy habits that can improve mental health.
  • Balance your plate. A balanced plate leads to a happy mind! To balance your plate, think back to the five food groups. Each food group is a building block for your plate. A balanced plate starts with filling half with fruits and veggies. They’re full of the vitamins and minerals that will help your body function properly. A fourth of your plate should consist of protein to help your muscles thrive, and the remaining fourth is reserved for whole grains — the group that keeps your brain happy and strong!
  • Keep it simple. If healthy eating feels complicated and intimidating, take a step back! You don’t need anything fancy. Slow cooker meals can be healthy, feed a crowd and are perfect for busy weeknights. Breakfast can be prepped the night before or grabbed on the way out the door, and you only need a few staples to make lunchtime a breeze! Your mental health and your overall health will improve by going back to the basics and keeping mealtimes easy!

Hydrate with water to keep your mind fresh and sharp

Hydrate With Water

Your body is made up of 70% water, including your brain! That’s why it’s so important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Proper hydration moves energy sources to your brain and improves your overall function so you can stay sharp and focused! If you have a hard time with drinking water, try these tips:

  • Keep water close. One of the easiest ways to stay hydrated is to always have water accessible. Get in the healthy habit of grabbing your water bottle every time you leave the house. You’re more likely to reach for it when you’re thirsty.
  • Set daily goals. The average adult needs about 7-8 glasses of water each day. Setting small milestones throughout the day will help make your daily goal easier to accomplish.
  • Add some flavor. Variety is the spice of life! Add a little flavor to your water with berries, melons, citrus or fresh herbs. If you’re replacing soda with water and you miss the fizz, give sparkling water a try!

Explore the Great Outdoors provides tons of physical and mental health benefits!

Explore the Great Outdoors

Healthy habits to improve mental health extend beyond the walls of your home! Nothing beats a day in the great outdoors, and there are tons of physical and mental health benefits from spending time outside. The vitamin D from sunlight can improve mood and stress levels, while fresh air can keep stress and anxiety at bay. Reap the full rewards of the outdoors by making outside time one of your daily habits for mental health. Here are a few activities to keep you occupied outside:

  • Go for a walk. It sounds simple, but just walking around the block for 30 minutes will give your body the fresh air it craves! If you’re feeling adventurous, turn your walk into a hike or even into a jog.
  • Start a garden. Getting your hands dirty is a fun way to reduce stress and feel good! Check out our beginners’ guide to gardening to find the right seeds to plant in your backyard or on your balcony.

Practicing mindfulness can help calm your mind and reduce stress

Practice Mindfulness

You don’t need to make big changes to improve your mental health. When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, taking a few minutes to reset your mind can improve your overall mental health. Here are a few healthy habits that can help you feel good:

  • Take some deep breaths. Deep breathing can help calm your mind and relax your body. Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose and hold it for a few seconds. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth. Repeat until you feel calm and collected.
  • Journal your thoughts. Keeping a journal is a great way to practice gratitude and reduce stress. Sometimes, the world feels hectic, especially in the age of social media. Getting into the healthy habit of daily journaling with a pen and paper is a small change that can help keep the stress and anxiety
  • Lean on your support system. When you’re feeling sad, stressed or overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust for support. Leaning on others will remind you that you’re not alone and will form connections that last.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Focusing on a few small habits to improve mental health will pay off in big ways! Find more simple recipes, easy ways to move and more on our blog page. Cheers to feeling good!