Lifestyle changes for mental health

Let’s be honest: Our day-to-day lives barely pass the vibe check most days. The daily stresses of life, mental illnesses, and anxieties about the future can lead to a dip in our quality of life. At the same time, these stresses cause and are paradoxically worsened by our lifestyles. 

While working to improve your mental health can seem like a challenging task in and of itself, it doesn’t have to be. There are some specific changes that you can make to your life that will enhance your mental health and maintain it. This article will explore 10 lifestyle changes that will boost your well-being and make life much more enjoyable. 

What is Mental Health and Well-Being?

Simply put, mental health is a state of psychological, emotional and social well-being. It covers all aspects of health and happiness, from our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Mentally healthy individuals feel primarily satisfied with their life, can cope with life challenges in healthy ways, and have fulfilling professional, social and personal lives. It is affected by many factors, including your environment, genetics, experiences, daily habits, behaviours and lifestyle. 

Well-being can be best described as a state of being healthy, happy and comfortable. Well-being includes life satisfaction, physical well-being, psychological well-being and emotional well-being. Well-being is a vast concept that focuses on all aspects of life, personal, social, or spiritual. 

Mental health and well-being are intertwined concepts; one must maintain the other. Prioritising your mental health and cultivating a healthy lifestyle can help build confidence and resilience and help with effective coping in stressful situations. No matter where you are in life, you deserve to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.

Why Lifestyle Changes are a Backdoor to Mental Health

Think about your day-to-day life. Maybe you remember a particular detail of your day, positive or negative. But beyond that, the rest of life seems to be a blur of mindless routines. 

That blur of activities, chores and daily tasks encompasses your lifestyle. They make up the most significant chunk of your life and thus also determine how you feel on a day-to-day basis. While a vacation or buying your entire Amazon wish list may do the trick momentarily, it only provides temporary relief.

Your lifestyle is a crucial part of your mental health and overall well-being. Lifestyle changes can help you better manage your mental illness and heal and prevent future illnesses. Your routine can either be a drag to get through or a tool that pushes your day to improve. 

Whether looking to increase our quality of life or cope with mental illnesses, lifestyle changes play the most significant role in long-term mental health and well-being. 

10 Lifestyle Changes Which Will Improve Your Mental Health

Research has shown that lifestyle changes are crucial to fostering mental health and overall well-being. By making these simple changes, you can make your life a lot more positive:

1. Maintain a Balanced Diet

Balanced Diet for Mental Health

We know, we know. You’ve heard this advice from everyone under the sun. But the reason you hear this advice everywhere is that it works! Your diet affects your mental health, both good and bad. According to a recent study by the University of Warwick, fruits and vegetables lead to better mental well-being.

At the same time, research also shows that fatty foods (especially processed fats) can change your gut bacteria and lead to your risk of developing mental illness symptoms. Healthy fats such as Omega-3 fatty acids could help with some forms of depression. What’s more, sugar a known to increase the frequency of depression symptoms.

Overall, a balanced diet, including all necessary nutrients from proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats to vitamins and minerals, can boost your physical and mental health. 

2. Get Regular Exercise

exercise regularly for mental health

Most mental health issues have physical components that determine your symptoms. Regular exercise can mitigate those symptoms and improve your physical health, mood and mental health. According to a study by Southern Methodist University, exercise serves as a “magic drug” for depression and anxiety, significantly combating symptoms and boosting resilience. 

It is important to note that exercise does not have to mean going to the gym every day and doing intense workouts. Studies show that low levels of activity, such as walking or gardening for 30 minutes a day, can help fight symptoms of depression. 

The endorphins released during exercise also boost your mood and help combat seasonal depression, anxiety, executive dysfunction and stress. Furthermore, exercise effectively helps with cognitive function and self-esteem, making you more alert and confident.

3. Get Your 6-8 Hours of Sleep

Good Sleep for mental health

Difficulty in sleeping and mental health conditions go hand-in-hand. Sleeping too much and sleeping too little are both signs of distress. Lack of sleep also leads to decreased focus, faulty memory, and increased stress levels. Getting a good night’s sleep each night can prevent cell damage and give your mind a fighting chance against mental illnesses. 

We have all tried to get the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep and found ourselves scrolling through our phones at 3 am, wondering where the night went. Try going to bed, waking up consistently, and avoiding heavy dinners and caffeine. Moreover, try to build a winding-down routine by setting aside electronics before bedtime – training your brain to recognise specific hours of the night for sleeping and relaxation.

4. Try to Incorporate Mindfulness Meditation into your Routine

From eye rolls to anecdotes about how it changed someone’s life, we’re sure you’ve heard mixed reactions to the term ‘meditation’. Meditation is about building focus, regulating your breathing, and practising stillness. 

While there are many ways to meditate, the most effective and easiest to do is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness focuses on doing things with conscious awareness rather than passively. 

Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help combat depression and anxiety and build better focus and awareness. Even if you find meditation difficult or tedious, setting aside 5 minutes to take stock of your thoughts and feelings can be a good practice for promoting well-being. 

5. Have a Strong Sense of Purpose

Having a sense of purpose and aspirations in life is a well-known factor in promoting mental well-being. A sense of purpose makes you hopeful and goal-oriented and motivates you to cope with challenges. According to popular psychological theories, human beings experience true happiness and satisfaction through the knowledge that they live meaningful lives. As a result, strong purpose can help combat stress, suicidal ideation, and depression. 

6. Find Ways to Help Others

Studies show that altruistic behaviour helps boost mood, build a sense of purpose, and increase self-esteem. So, finding ways to help others in need can bring positivity to your and others’ lives. Anything from small gestures to large-scale help goes a long way in building a sense of community, providing direction in life, and improving your sense of self-worth. 

7. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol and drugs have obvious detrimental effects on your physical and mental health. Sometimes, people may turn to these substances to treat mental health conditions, but these only worsen their condition. These substances can cause addiction and also trigger mental illnesses, especially those related to psychosis. Hence, avoiding alcohol and drugs allows you to build tangible resources to cope with stress and illness. 

8. Build Meaningful Relationships

Building and maintaining meaningful relationships helps you feel connected to people you care about. This can be especially helpful when we’re struggling and feeling isolated. Also, meaningful relationships build our social support system and help people bounce back faster from challenges. 

9. Seek Professional Help

Going to therapy is a form of self-care. Acknowledging that your mental health is worth working on is a powerful thing. As such, seeking therapy or joining support groups can be a great way to foster a happier, healthier life. A professional can guide you in building the right tools to cope with life challenges and boost your mental health and well-being.

10. Try to Devote Time to Your Hobbies

Devoting time to the hobbies that make you happy can be a great way to wind down, relax and build your self-esteem. Going on a hike, playing music, getting creative, or cooking can boost your mood, help you reconnect with your sense of self, and be a healthy break from day-to-day challenges.


Irrespective of where you are in life, you deserve to be mentally healthy. Seeking professional help and changing your lifestyle can help boost your well-being and mental health. Try incorporating at least 3 of these changes into your life and experience the difference for yourself!