Good Mental Health: 25 Therapist-Approved Mental Health Tips

Published on: 25 May 2017
hands green brain

Updated 9/22/2021

Good mental health is both a state of mind as well as a lifestyle. Part of this stems from developing a rational, positive mindset about yourself and the world around you. Doing things you love, and sustaining a manageable level of stress, both help facilitate good mental health and mental wellness.

But there’s more to it when it comes to knowing how to help your mental health. That’s why it’s so important to have a lifestyle that helps maintain a positive state of mind. This goes beyond fulfillment in work and relationships. It’s about regularly engaging in activities that provide a sense of peace or catharsis, including being in nature, meditating, or working with a therapist.

By finding and using good mental health tips that work for you, you can become more resilient and are better able to cope when life is occasionally hit with stress and misfortune.

“Practicing good mental health habits before you feel distressed is like putting money in the bank for the bad times,” notes Jude Miller Burke, Ph.D., business psychologist and author of The Adversity Advantage. “When a bad time then comes, you are more prepared.”

Feeling like you’re missing a positive mindset or healthy lifestyle? Try out some of the mental health tips we gathered by asking therapists how to practice good mental health.

1. Work With a Therapist

Big surprise: therapists suggested going to therapy. In fact, it’s at the top of their positive mental health tips list. It’s still a useful reminder, though. Therapy can improve your quality of life and reduce symptoms of mental health challenges — among many other benefits — according to hundreds of studies.

Working with a therapist is like having a coach who constantly helps and pushes you to maintain good mental health. Throughout your relationship with a therapist, you can set specific and actionable positive mental health goals. These can range from developing new thought patterns to implementing healthy lifestyle changes. 

If trauma, toxic relationships, mental health conditions, or negative beliefs are holding you back from having a positive state of mind, working with a therapist might be especially helpful.

2. Try Mindfulness and Meditation

woman tea meditation

Mindfulness practices have a number of benefits. For example, meditation can reduce negative rumination and stress. It can also improve relationship satisfaction, according to a meta-analysis of studies on the mental health benefits of mindfulness. Here are some examples of practicing mindfulness and meditation:

You can also practice mindfulness in many other ways, though. Therapist Lisa Bahar recommends incorporating mindfulness into routine activities we tend to take for granted. 

Think about the last time you ate something that tasted good, maybe an expensive dessert. Were you in the moment when you ate it? Were you present, only thinking about the taste of the food and the experience of eating it?

3. Exercise Regularly

Physical activity can boost your mental health. It can reduce symptoms of many mental health conditions, according to a wealth of research. Physical activity releases chemicals that bolster well-being on a neurological level.

When we exercise, it’s as if some of our anxiety, depression, and stress literally transform into sweat. Rather than festering in their bodies, it slides off.

4. Maintain a Healthy Diet

healthy foods spread

Each piece of food you eat and glass of liquid you drink affects your mental health. The effects may be small, but they can add up. That’s why a healthy diet is so important if you’re looking for how to help your mental health. Certain types of diets can actually help people manage depression, according to a study published in BMC Medicine.

Want to know more about supplements, beverages, and vitamins that may help you have good mental health? These have all been shown to have some effect on mental health:

  • Herbal supplements like GABA, kava, passionflower, L-theanine, and lemon balm
  • Non-caffeinated tea
  • Vitamin B
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D3
  • Omega-3 (fish oil)

Make sure to do additional research or consult a licensed nutritionist for help incorporating these and other supplements into your regular diet.

5. Be Grateful

When people take what they have for granted, it’s like they’re placing constraints on how happy they can be. Gratitude helps us enjoy our privileges, the people in our lives, and material possessions. It’s a way to be free of the restrictions we put on how much joy we can derive from what we have.

Gratitude is something you can practice by regularly taking time to run through a list of what you have and why you appreciate it. This can make you more likely to foster fulfilling relationships, sleep better, and feel well physically, among a host of other benefits.

6. Laugh A Lot

woman laughing

Laughter can be therapeutic. Every time we laugh, our brains release dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel happy. If you’re missing some laughter in your life, try going to a comedy club, binge-watching a new comedy series, or checking out some standup specials on Netflix.

7. Sing Your Heart Out

Even if it’s only in the shower, singing makes us feel good. The musical vibrations literally change your brain for the better by lowering levels of hormones that typically indicate stress.

8. Have At Least Some Social Interaction

Even introverts and people with social anxiety need at least a little social interaction to be mentally healthy, according to studies on social relationships and health. Having relationships or simply chatting with people occasionally can make a huge difference.

If you’re missing a degree of social interaction, you may want to think about joining one of the following communities and groups:

  • An activist group related to a cause you care about
  • A networking, professional, or meetup group based on a common skill or interest
  • A religious community
  • A form of group exercise, including team sports
  • Group therapy

9. Volunteer Somewhere

woman volunteer dog animal shelter

Volunteering can improve mental and physical health, according to research from Carnegie Mellon University. The satisfaction of doing something for other people is invaluable. It can also be an opportunity to practice gratitude.

There are hundreds of opportunities for volunteering. If you want something that may help improve your mental health, any volunteer work can be rewarding and beneficial. Whether you’re working with an animal rescue, or shelter, or volunteering at a hospital or clinic, a mood boost can be exactly what you’re looking for, and likely to get, when you give your time to a worthy cause.

10. Know Your Personality and What You Love

When people know who they are and what they love, it’s easier for them to find sources of good mental health. Burke offers the example of an introvert reading a book and having alone time as opposed to an extrovert needing stimulation from others.

“Choosing activities that correlate with your personality traits helps retain a mental health balance,” she states.

If you’re struggling to think of activities to try, Burke recommends thinking back to your childhood. Those memories might contain clues about what could bring happiness as an adult.

11. Challenge Negative Thoughts and Self-Criticism

All of us have some negative thoughts about ourselves, other people, or even the nature of the world. When these inevitably occur, ask yourself, “Is this line of thinking fair? Is it logical?”

Negative beliefs are often irrational and flimsy. When we challenge them, we can replace them with positive beliefs that boost mental health. If you have trouble doing this alone, you might want to think about working with a licensed therapist.

12. Think About What You Want, Not What You Should Be Doing

“Should” is about placating other people. That won’t bring happiness or peace.

Instead, try to constantly think about what you want. Put your desires first and worry about the “shoulds” later. Even if you can’t always do what you want, simply asking yourself what you want is a great practice if you’re looking for ideas on how to help your mental health.

13. Journal to Track Your Gratitude

Keeping a gratitude journal is an excellent way for you to focus on your mental health. It can keep things in perspective, and help set the tone for your day. Journaling at the end of a day is equally as helpful if you want to release stress after a particularly troubling day. 

One recommended journaling technique is: list three things you’re grateful for and three goals you have for that day or the next (depending on the time of day you’re journaling). 

14. Start Your Day With A Cup of Joe

Believe it or not, studies show that consuming coffee is linked to lower depression rates. Don’t like coffee? Try green tea, which has also been shown to lower cortisol (a stress hormone) levels.

15. Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Even the smallest gesture or random act of kindness can result in a feeling of accomplishment and happiness. Being kind to others, especially when it’s unexpected or anonymous, can help reduce your stress and anxiety while boosting self-esteem.

16. Be Outdoors

Being outside, going for a walk, or spending time in nature are all shown to have positive results in reducing depression and increasing energy levels. Nature can heal, soothe, and restore us.

17. Get Some Sunshine

Vitamin D does more than just keep our bones healthy. It’s well-known that vitamin D is good for our mood and our soul. Getting about 15 minutes of sunlight multiple times a week can help stabilize your mood, so you feel strong when it comes to your mental health.

18. Spend Time With Friends and Family

While a little “Me Time” can sometimes be welcome, too much isolation isn’t necessarily a good thing. Spending time socializing with family and friends can benefit you in a number of ways. Feeling connected, loved, and valued are all key components of stability and good mental health.

19. Smile

Smiling is an excellent way to keep a positive frame of mind. It may seem too good to be true, but studies have actually shown that smiling is both a mood booster, as well as a way for our body to release endorphins and cortisol. Smiling can increase endurance, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve pain.

20. Be Forgiving

Forgiveness doesn’t always have to be a huge, grand gesture. It can be something as simple as not becoming overly upset if someone cuts you off on the freeway. Or, it can be choosing to let something go rather than stewing on an insensitive comment a friend says. Forgiveness has been linked to good mental health and a positive, satisfactory view of life.

21. Meal Planning

Prepping meals ahead of time, or planning healthy options that make it easier for you to stay on track, are two great ways to focus on your mental health. When it comes to diet, these two things can alleviate stress and create a simplified plan, so you can get the nutrition you need without creating a lot of stress at mealtime.

22. Take a Bath

Relaxing in a bath, especially with Epsom salts or essential oils, can help reduce stress and alleviate aches and pains. Epsom salts can also help restore magnesium levels, which can be easily depleted if you’re extra stressed.

23. Get Off the Grid

Taking a break from technology can help reset your mind and give you a much-needed mental health break. Overstimulation from social media, digital content, and a constant influx of emails, texts, and notifications can directly contribute to how overwhelmed we are in terms of mental health. 

24. Do What You Love

There is actual science behind the link between a hobby and improved mental health. Focusing on things that you’re interested in, that bring you pleasure, can do wonders for your mental health and well-being.

25. Write (and Read) Affirmations

Writing out a list of affirmations, and then regularly reading them, can help you establish a positive, focused mindset every day. The more ingrained your positive thoughts become, the more likely they are to result in positive emotions that can change and improve your mental health.

How to Practice Good Mental Health Tips

If you try even one of these tips, you’ll be moving towards improving your mental health. To feel even better, start adding more to your lifestyle and see what fits. Good mental health tips are great if you’re looking for ways to improve who you are, how you live, and what you do in the healthiest ways possible.   

Sources Cited:

1. http://judemillerburke.com/. Accessed September 3, 2021.

2. Recognition of Psychotherapy Effectiveness. https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/about/policy/resolution-psychotherapy. Published 2012. Accessed September 3, 2021.

3. What are the benefits of mindfulness?. https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner. Published 2012. Accessed September 3, 2021.

4. Sharma, M.D A, Madaan M.D. V, Petty, M.D., Ph.D. F. Exercise for Mental Health. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/. Published 2006. Accessed September 3, 2021.

5. Jacka, F.N., O’Neil, A., Opie, R. et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Med 15, 23 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y

6. The Mental Health Benefits of Gratitude. Nationwidechildrens.org. https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2020/05/gratitude. Published 2020. Accessed September 3, 2021.

7. McLean K. Can Laughter be Therapeutic? – Yale Scientific Magazine. Yalescientific.org. http://www.yalescientific.org/2011/05/can-laughter-be-therapeutic/. Published 2011. Accessed September 3, 2021.

8. Horn S. Singing Changes Your Brain | TIME.com. TIME.com. https://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/. Published 2013. Accessed September 3, 2021.

9. Umberson D, Karas Montez J. Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3150158/. Published 2011. Accessed September 3, 2021.

10. APA PsycNet. Psycnet.apa.org. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-21685-006. Published 2013. Accessed September 3, 2021.

11. How Volunteering Can Help Your Mental Health. Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_volunteering_can_help_your_mental_health. Published 2020. Accessed September 3, 2021.

12. Association N, one-third C. Coffee can reduce depression risk by up to one-third. Ncausa.org. https://www.ncausa.org/Newsroom/Coffee-can-reduce-depression-risk-by-up-to-one-third. Published 2020. Accessed September 3, 2021.

13. Austin) T, (SBP) S, (UofL) U, Institute H. The science of tea’s mood-altering magic. Nature.com. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00398-1. Published 2019. Accessed September 3, 2021.

14. Fight Depression During the Holidays with Random Acts of Kindness | AltaMed. Altamed.org. https://www.altamed.org/articles/fight-depression-during-holidays-random-acts-kindness. Published 2017. Accessed September 3, 2021.

15. How Does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing? | Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing. https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/how-does-nature-impact-our-wellbeing. Accessed September 3, 2021.

16. Thatcher D. The Top Ten Benefits of Spending Time with Family | Highland Springs. Highland Springs. https://highlandspringsclinic.org/blog/the-top-ten-benefits-of-spending-time-with-family/. Published 2020. Accessed September 3, 2021.

17. Weir K. Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health. https://www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/01/ce-corne. Published 2017. Accessed September 3, 2021.

18. Pickering G, Mazur A, Trousselard M, et al. Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited. Nutrients. 2020;12(12):3672. Published 2020 Nov 28. doi:10.3390/nu12123672. Accessed September 3, 2021.

19. McCabe C. The science behind why hobbies can improve our mental health. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/the-science-behind-why-hobbies-can-improve-our-mental-health-153828. Published 2021. Accessed September 3, 2021.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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