As anyone who’s graced a health food store supplement aisle or the expansive self-help section at a bookstore knows: when it comes to how we feel, many of us are struggling. 

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From supplements promising ‘Calm,’ ‘Energy,’ and ‘Focus,’ to books with titles like, ‘10% Happier,’ there’s no shortage of things on the market that cater to this insatiable quest to feel better. 

While some have more severe struggles than others, the truth is, all of us experience difficulties and challenges in life which tax us physically and mentally. 

Chronic stress, exhaustion, living with almost perpetual distraction wears at us.

Roughly 95% of people agree: taking care of our mental health is important. Most people crave a sense of calm and grounding in this hectic fast-paced world. Yet putting that into action is another story – only a small percentage of people actually make it a priority.

Unfortunately, when we don’t attend to our mental health, our overall quality of life diminishes. Taking care of ourselves is imperative, period. 

Here are 9 simple ways to improve your mental health. Challenge yourself to try them for a month, and see how you feel. 

1. Prioritize Sleep

You already know that getting a good night’s rest is vital to how you feel overall. Can you remember the Netflix shows that kept you up late? Or the reasons you stayed up longer than you should have? 

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Chances are, you can’t. 

However, you probably can remember how awful it feels to struggle to get through your day when you’re exhausted.

While everyone’s situation is different, make a commitment to honoring your sleep. Be fiercely protective over it. Take a hot bath before bed, sip some chamomile tea, and try some guided meditation for relaxation or sleep. There’s a ton of different ones available for free, on YouTube.

Remember, since no one (besides articles like this) is telling you to go to bed at a decent hour, it’s up to you. 

2. Stay Hydrated

You know this one too, drink water. Your body needs it. Dehydration can lead to feeling fatigued, anxious and depressed. Commit to drinking a certain amount of water per day, and carry a water bottle with you. If it’s cold out, warm water is easier to drink.

3. Take a Walk in Nature

Spending time in nature boosts your mood. It lowers feelings of depression and anxiety. It fuels creativity, lowers blood pressure and the production of stress hormones, among many other things. 

Also, it’s free.

Don’t dismiss things that actually have an impact on your well-being, just because they’re free.

Find a park, a bike path, a little lane. 

Get out and explore, and don’t forget to bring your bottle of water.

4. Breathe

Take a second to relax your jaw, your shoulders. Now, inhale to the count of four…. Hold for four… and exhale to the count of four.

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It’s so easy to get tangled in thoughts that our breath becomes shallow, our jaw clenched, and our shoulders tight. 

Set an alert on your phone for every two hours or so throughout the day, reminding you to breathe. Use that time to check in: 

How do you feel? 

Where is your mind?

Studies by the NIH show that regular check ins through breathwork and meditation lead to better mood regulation, and an improved sense of well-being.

5. Don’t Escape Your Feelings 

There’s no shortage of ways people abandon themselves in an effort to feel better. Drugs and alcohol are the more extreme versions, however shopping, sex addiction, spending all your free time watching TV, seeking external validation, all of these involve a degree of self-abandonment. Many get so used to escaping, they lose touch with the emotion driving the behavior.

When we indulge in things like this in an effort to escape or change a feeling, we stay stuck. Pause our healing, or even backslide – depending on how damaging the “go to” form of escape is. Emotions and feelings can be terrifying, so it’s no wonder we don’t want to deal with them. 

If you find yours particularly overwhelming, finding a therapist that can help you work through them is one of the best, most empowering ways to come back to yourself, and segue toward a happier, more fulfilling life. 

6. Connect

Connecting with friends and loved ones – and yes, even ourselves – has shown to increase mortality, boost health, and decrease stress and anxiety.

Make sure you have a good support system, and spend quality time with those you love. If you’d like to increase your connection, consider volunteering or joining a meetup group.

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7. Try Something New 

When was the last time you did something fun, creative, or inspiring? This doesn’t need to be anything huge. 

Get out of your comfort zone, and try something you’ve always wanted. Sometimes, a small change can have a big result in how you feel.

8. Declutter

Get rid of things that no longer serve you, both physically and mentally. We’re surrounded by so much clutter, and the more you work through to relieve yourself of its burden, the better you feel.

Be ruthless. Get rid of everything you feel “eh,” about. Hold onto what you love, the things that inspire you and make you happy. The less junk you have surrounding them, the easier they are to see.

9. Be Kind to Yourself

Some of us go through life with such a nasty inner dialogue. Others don’t have the dialogue; their actions are based on trying to escape unpleasant feelings instead.

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The point being, when it comes to how we treat ourselves, many of us are ruthless. We think we don’t deserve rest. We feel unworthy. Ugly, old, unable to measure up. 

Flipping the script and learning how to be kind to yourself takes work. In fact, all of these tips do. You need to redirect, constantly. 

Actively make room for them in your day.

If you feel like you’d benefit from some deeper work, therapy is one of the best ways you can improve your mental health. The Relationship Therapy Center has two Northern California locations, and we offer virtual sessions too. 

To learn more about how we can help, give us a call. We are always happy to chat and share more of what we do.

Begin Working With A Therapist in Fair Oaks, CA, Roseville, CA, or Online in California:

If you are ready to change your life for the better, our team of caring therapists can help. We are honored to support clients with in-person or online therapy across the state. To begin therapy at our Sacramento area locations or online, follow these steps:

Services Offered at The Relationship Therapy Center in California:

Our Sacramento area counseling clinics located in Roseville and Fair Oaks, CA are pleased to offer a variety of mental health services. Our couples services include: Couples Counseling, Counseling after infidelity, sex therapy, co-parent counseling, family therapy, divorce counseling, intensive couples retreats, and premarital counseling. Our individual therapy services include anxiety treatment, therapy for children, teen therapy, depression treatment, codependency counseling and individual relationship counseling. Our therapists offer online counseling in California to treat a variety of mental health concerns. Please reach out to our Sacramento area therapy office to learn more about the many ways we can help you or your loved ones.