Mental health has gained fundamental relevance in recent years. While it has always been important to take care of the mind, there is now greater awareness around mental health.

Especially for individuals who have busy schedules and little time to rest, it is important to prioritize practices that promote mental well-being. Furthermore, since stress is a common human condition, it should be managed through various means.

In this article, we have compiled 20 self-care ideas to help you improve your mental health. These include various practices, activities, and postures that can assist in taking care of your mind.

Get enough sleep

Getting a good night's sleep is crucial for maintaining good mental health. It's recommended to aim for at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. According to Casey Kelley, MD, ABoIM, founder and medical director of Case Integrative Health, sleep is essential for the body to function properly, just like food, water, and oxygen.

"Sleep is a vital, yet often underappreciated, aspect of overall body health and longevity," Kelley told Real Simple. "While you're asleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines that protect against inflammation or infection," she added.


Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety while increasing feelings of well-being. It's recommended to set aside some time each day to meditate and quiet your mind.

Susan Albers, PsyD, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic, spoke about the benefits of meditation. "Clinical research indicates that meditation is great for both the body and the mind. Studies have shown that it helps to decrease stress, increase your ability to cope with anxiety, chronic health issues, and pain, improve sleep, and reduce blood pressure," she told Newsroom.


Regular exercise is beneficial not only for physical health but also for reducing stress and improving mood. It's crucial for both the body, in terms of fitness and longevity, and mental health.

In fact, researchers from the University of South Australia found that physical activity is 1.5 times more effective than therapy or leading medications for reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and distress. "Exercise is often overlooked as a potential treatment for anxiety or depression. Exercise and physical activity can be effective in treating depression," said Dr. Scott Krakower, DO, a psychiatrist with Northwell Health, in an interview with Parade.

Spend time in nature

Spending time in nature has been proven to reduce stress and improve mood. Going for a walk in the park or hiking in the woods are great ways to do this.

Ernesto Lira de la Rosa, PhD, a licensed psychologist and media advisor for the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, explained to Real Simple that our physical and mental health benefit when we connect with nature. "When we spend time in nature, we can literally disconnect from everyday stressors, technology, and social interactions. Nature can help us ground and recharge our bodies and minds, especially if we take time to observe our surroundings," he added.

Read a book

Reading is an excellent way to unwind and escape from the stresses of daily life. Set aside time each day to read a book that interests you.

Furthermore, reading can help keep your mind sharp and prevent cognitive decline. "Various activities, including reading, that are seen as cognitively engaging are definitely associated with better brain health," said Jonathan King, Ph.D., senior scientific advisor in the division of behavioral and social research at the National Institute on Aging, in an interview with

Take a bath 

Taking a warm bath can be a fantastic way to unwind and reduce stress. Get in the water, lay back, and relax. You can also enhance the experience by playing some music or lighting candles.

According to family medicine provider Amy Zack, MD, taking a bath could have a significant positive impact on your mental health. "Baths also create a peaceful environment for meditation, introspection, and escape from everyday stressors. Promoting relaxation helps you let go of things that can keep you awake as you try to wind down," Zack explained to HealthEssentials.

Listen to music

Listening to music has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood. Put on your favorite music and enjoy.

Trish Glynn, who is a licensed mental health counselor and the owner of The Carey Center, has explained the benefits of listening to music. "Music is known to lower your heart rate while also reducing levels of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone," Glynn has told Insider.

Practice gratitude

It's important to take time each day to reflect on the things you're grateful for. Focusing on the positive can help to reduce stress and improve mood.

According to Dani Moye, Ph.D, a licensed marriage and family therapist, being grateful can have a positive impact on our mental health. "When we focus on the good in our lives, the things that make us feel sad or worried are minimized. This shift in perspective can give us emotional freedom and serenity, no matter what we're facing," Moye explained to Forbes Health.


Writing in a journal can be a great way to reflect on your feelings and emotions. It can also help you to identify patterns and triggers that may be affecting your mental health.

"Journaling also improves mental health and allows for stress relief, because it can provide a safe space to unload your pent-up thoughts and feelings," says Dr. Carla Manly, a clinical psychologist based in Sonoma County, California. "In general, whether it's after a therapy session or just after a long day, it is a safe space to put everything out there and close it up," she told TODAY.

Practice mindfulness 

Mindfulness is the practice of being present and fully engaged in the moment. It has been shown to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.

Lalah Delia, a wellness educator, discussed the benefits of mindfulness with USA Today. "Mindfulness helps us be present in the world, aware of our energy and aware of the energy around us. It involves actively exploring our thoughts and surroundings to understand how they impact our mental and emotional well-being. This is different from traditional meditation," she explained.

Connect with friends and family

Make time for regular social activities as spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress and improve mood.

Dr. Raymond Hobbs, a physician consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, emphasized the importance of socializing for our mental and physical health. "We know that social isolation is a serious threat to health. Strengthen relationships with family members, such as siblings, children, nephews, nieces, and cousins," Hobbs explained to Healthline.

Try a new hobby

Trying something new can be a great way to reduce stress and improve mental well-being. Pick up a new hobby or learn a new skill. "Hobbies have so many positive benefits on mental wellness," said Dr. Tom MacLaren, consultant psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health, to Irish News.

"They help lift mood, reduce stress, and promote happiness and contentment. To get the full mental health benefit, it's important to find something meaningful and enjoyable, whether it be creative, musical, athletic, academic, involving collecting, or something unique or personal," he added.

Practice self-compassion

Be kind and understanding to yourself. Remember that it's okay to make mistakes because you're only human.

According to Kristin Neff, Ph.D., "A lot of research shows that people who score high on self-compassion eat better, exercise more, and keep doctor appointments. It's an attitude of genuine consideration, one that a good parent would have toward a child who wants to have ice cream for dinner every night. The loving and compassionate decision is to say no, to balance the short-term pleasure with the long-term benefit because you value the person," as told to Shape magazine.

Take breaks

It's important to take breaks throughout the day to rest and recharge. Taking a walk, stretching, or simply taking a few deep breaths can be helpful.

Jennifer Bramen, PhD, a senior research scientist, spoke to Healthline about the importance of taking short breaks, especially during work. "In general, the closer you are to taking a 10-minute break, the better you will perform. However, even shorter breaks can still be beneficial," said Bramen.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet can help improve your mood and reduce stress. Focus on consuming whole foods and avoiding processed foods. According to registered dietitian Garrett Swisher, better nutrition equals better mental health.

"The way we eat those foods is important. Eating a well-balanced diet, including foods from all food groups, focusing on more whole, unprocessed, less refined foods, and eating regularly. The brain and the gut are interconnected. Foods that make us feel bad are going to make us miserable and not enjoyable to be around," Swisher explained to WTHR. 

Reduce caffeine intake

Too much caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety and stress. Try reducing your caffeine intake or switch to decaf. Some experts argue that caffeine can be addictive.

Lisa Axelrad, a nutritionist in Los Angeles, spoke to Esquire about the addictive effects of caffeine. "Coffee leads to an afternoon crash and stains our teeth, and that's from just one cup a day. If you're drinking more, you are likely to suffer from headaches, disrupted sleep, irritability, high blood pressure, jitters, insulin resistance, and hormone disruption," Axelrad said.

Get outside

Spending time outside has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood. Take a walk or sit in the sun for a few minutes each day.

Fitness expert Denise Austin spoke to Prevention about the importance of walking. "It has tremendous benefits, from supporting a healthy immune system to boosting your metabolism to strengthening your joints, muscles, and bones — not to mention it's amazing for stress relief and enjoying a little 'me time,'" Austin said.

Practice deep breathing

Deep breathing can be an effective way to reduce stress and improve mental well-being. Try taking a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.

According to a study published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, breathing techniques like cyclic breathing have been shown to be more effective in improving mood than mindfulness meditation and other breathwork techniques.

Seek professional help

If you are struggling with your mental health, it is important to seek professional help. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, talking therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and psychodynamic therapy, can be helpful for treating a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others.

Be kind to yourself

Remember to be kind and understanding to yourself. Practice patience and celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.

Dr. Kelli Harding, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, discussed the positive effects of kindness on our mental health with EverydayHealth. "Kindness can lower cortisol and blood pressure, reduce pain, anxiety, and depression, and boost our immune system, thus mitigating stress on an individual level," Dr. Harding stated.

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