Simple habits to start for better mental health

Very few things in life are promised, but stress is unfortunately guaranteed.

There will be times when you feel overwhelmed or stressed out. However, you can control how you respond to the strain. Implementing relaxation techniques into your daily routine can help you manage stress.

Meditation is a popular way to relax as it can help one reach a state of calm, decrease stress and improve your mood.

If meditation isn’t your thing, deep breathing, reading or taking a bubble bath are also popular relaxation techniques.

Including gratitude in your life is a way to create a positive outlook on your life. More than that, it has tangible benefits for your mental health.

In 2023, take time for self-reflection and share your gratitude with the people around you. If you like to journal, regularly write down a list of things you’re grateful for.

Sharing our time with others is sometimes just what we need to boost our mood. By making time for friends and family, you will decrease feelings of loneliness and ensure you have an emotional support system at your fingertips.

Take care of your physical health. Mental health is directly tied to physical health. The three main areas to target for 2023 are sleep, nutrition and exercise.


The state of your mental health is influenced by the sleep you get. If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain doesn’t have the chance to rest and recover. Sleep deprivation makes it harder to regulate your emotions and cope with stress.

Food and hydration

Giving your body the nutrients and hydration it needs to function is another essential part of mental health. In addition to eating well-balanced meals, try adding foods to your diet that boost happiness. And make sure you drink enough water.


Being active is another way to boost your mood and make you feel good. It doesn’t have to be heavy lifting or intense workouts; regular walks or bike rides can also boost your mental health.

Monitor your social media intake

 Our phones are our lifelines. Most of the time, they’re beside us, keeping us connected to the outside world through calls, texts and social media. Constant social media use has been linked to worsened anxiety and depression symptoms, feelings of inadequacy and unhealthy sleeping habits.

Journal your feelings

Journaling is a powerful tool to cope with mental health disorders by working through emotions and channelling thoughts. A 2018 study found that journaling for 15 minutes each day significantly reduced stress.

Make yourself laugh

Sometimes, laughter is the best medicine. When you’re feeling stressed or down, do things that will make you laugh to reduce anxiety and stress. Watch your favourite TV show or movie to give your mood a boost. Or find the source within yourself. Sing while you’re in the shower or dance while cleaning your home. Dancing reduces the stress hormone cortisol in the body.

Ashford Gikunda is a doctorate student in Project Planning and Management at UoN

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