Everyone experiences stress at different points in their life. Some of the stresses we go through are larger and more impactful than others, and some stressors can even cause changes in our physical and/or mental state. However, finding ways to cope and creating healthy habits to deal with stresses big or small can work wonders in keeping yourself both physically and mentally fit and balanced.

Sometimes the answer is simply taking a few minutes every day to check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling and how you’re dealing with your current situation. Movement and activity are great ways to give our bodies – and our brains – what they need to decompress and regain focus. Learning to keep your mental health in check by incorporating healthy habits is key to managing the tough times in life.

Let’s explore 7 ways to keep your mental health in check:

  • Take an active break.
  • Remembering to take even a few minutes for yourself can make a big difference in your energy and mood. Active breaks, where you’re moving your body in some way, can be incorporated throughout your day — and you can look forward to the benefits of taking active breaks, including:

    Improved focus and concentration
    Reduced stress and anxiety
    Improved energy levels
    Improved physical health

    So what types of active breaks are we talking about here? The simplest way to take an active break is to take a walk outside. Nature can generate positive emotions. Getting outside for a walk can be a breath of fresh air – literally! Taking a walk can get your blood pumping and give you a mood boost. Keep in mind that adults need 150 minutes of physical activity weekly – that’s just 30 minutes per day for five days! Daily walks can be a great way to get in your movement every day, and can happen anytime – early in the morning or after dinner. Just get out there and get moving!

  • Meet a friend for coffee or tea.
  • Making plans with a friend or family member can give you something to look forward to and also a chance to decompress or even talk through whatever you’re dealing with. Try checking out the new coffee shop in your neighborhood together or take your drinks on the go and enjoy some exercise together!

  • Make a new recipe.
  • Learning to make something new can give you a fresh perspective and get you out of the normal food rut. Cooking your own meals can be good for your physical health (hello, healthy dinners!), but also your mental health. Research has linked cooking with positive emotions, creativity, relaxation, boosted confidence, and more.

  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • The simple act of writing down what you’re grateful for can boost your mood, enhance your sense of well-being, and put things in perspective. The decision to practice gratitude can have a positive impact on your overall well-being.

  • Do something you love.
  • “Self-care” is a popular term for a reason — we can all benefit from taking time for ourselves to tune in to what we love and make those things part of our routine. Whether it’s reading, meditating, doing yoga, joining a team sport or just taking time to catch up with a loved one, giving yourself that gift of self-care can change your mood.

  • Sit in the sunlight.
  • Boosting your sunshine and vitamin D consumption quota can truly benefit both your physical and mental health. Vitamin D deficiency can be a factor in multiple physical and mental illnesses, so why not grab that vitamin D during your day to reduce your risk factors? Research has found that exposure to nature can improve stress responses as well, so it’s a win if you can get some time in the sun (in a safe way).

  • Put it into your schedule.
  • Blocking off at least a few minutes daily in your calendar can remind you to take those active breaks. Whether it’s taking 10 minutes in your morning to drink your coffee in peace and plan for your day, 20 minutes in the afternoon to listen to your favorite podcast or a 30-minute evening walk with your pet, planning for it and making it a habit will help you actually take those daily breaks.

So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, take a quick break to recharge. Your mind and body will thank you for it!

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7 Ways to Keep Your Mental Health In Check