7 Simple Habits To Elevate Your Mental Health

Discover the profound impact of simple habits on mental well-being. From the transformative power of upright posture to the healing embrace of nature, these everyday practices play a key role in shaping a happier, more balanced life.
7 Simple Habits To Elevate Your Mental Health

Have you ever wondered what small changes could hugely impact your mental health? We all strive for a healthy mind, and these positive habits can help us achieve that. Consistency is key. Turning these habits into a natural part of your routine will make all the difference. Let's dive into seven habits that can significantly enhance your mental wellbeing:

1. Embrace an Upright Posture

Straighten up and stand tall! Adopting an upright posture benefits your mental well-being significantly, a fact supported by various studies.

Research has shown that maintaining an upright posture can lead to higher self-esteem, less fear, and lower fatigue levels, especially in people with mild to moderate depression [1].

A fascinating study involving 74 people found that sitting upright, rather than slumping, can boost your mood and self-esteem, making you more resilient to stress [2].

Also, studies suggest that good posture boosts your confidence. Yes, those power poses are not just a myth. Students sitting up straight in one study felt more self-assured about their future job prospects [3].

And there is more, an upright posture can affect your performance. Are you struggling with math or under pressure? Sit up straight! A study with 125 students tackling math problems showed that those with good posture found the task easier [4]. This suggests a confident stance can sharpen your focus in various challenging scenarios.

Don't just take our word for it – experiment with good posture in different settings and observe the changes in your confidence, assertiveness, and productivity.

2. Take a Walk in Nature

Embracing the great outdoors offers more than meets the eye. A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that just 5 minutes of contact with the natural world can enhance mood, self-esteem, and overall emotional well-being [5].

Another study in Denmark demonstrated that nature’s magic starts early and lasts long. Researchers, looking at over 900,000 people born from 1985 to 2003, found that kids who grew up with lush green spaces around them were less likely to encounter psychiatric disorders later in life [6].

For those who had less greenery in their childhood? Their risk of mental health issues was a staggering 55% higher.

This study shows that nature isn’t just a backdrop for childhood games; it’s a foundational element for lifelong mental well-being.

So, lace up your shoes and take a refreshing walk in the park—your mental health will thank you.

3. Hug Someone

There are moments when a heartfelt hug is just what you need. Research from UCLA reveals that the oxytocin receptor gene, which plays a crucial role in fostering self-esteem and optimism, gets a boost from physical touch, hugging included [7].

It turns out that this 'cuddle hormone' is more than just a feel-good factor; it's a key player in enhancing positive mental states. Scientists have pinpointed this gene as a crucial element in developing optimism, self-worth, and a sense of control, all vital tools in managing stress and warding off depression.

And for the little ones, hugs are like building blocks for self-esteem. They send the message that they are valued. This foundation of physical affection lays the groundwork for a lifetime of self-confidence.

So, share a hug – it's scientifically backed to uplift your spirits!

4. Bond with a Furry Friend

Are no hugs available? Pets to the rescue! Cuddling up with a furry pal isn't just heartwarming; it's packed with health perks for both mind and body.

When you interact with pets through gentle petting, you're not just pampering them – but also ramping up serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. These are the 'feel-good' hormones that play a big part in lifting your mood and boosting your overall happiness [8].

A 2019 study found that just 10 minutes of interacting with pets significantly reduces cortisol, a stress hormone, in college students [9].

Your heart also benefits from these furry friendships. Regular pet interactions mean healthier heart metrics like lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels [10].

Are you convinced? Then, take a walk with your dog or cuddle your cat. Pets are fantastic stress-busters.

5. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is a powerful tool for enhancing mental health. When you engage in physical activity, your brain releases 'feel-good' chemicals like endorphins and serotonin [11]. These natural mood lifters are crucial in improving your mood and emotional state. 

Additionally, exercise is known for its ability to effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and negative mood [12].

Focusing on physical activity gives your mind a break from daily stressors, allowing for a mental reset. This effect is especially beneficial for those dealing with high levels of stress or mental health challenges.

6. Prioritize Quality Sleep

Sleep is essential in supporting and nurturing mental health in several ways. There's a strong link between how well you sleep and your mental well-being.

How? Because sleep is pivotal for the processing of emotions and memories. During sleep, your brain engages in the crucial task of consolidating memories and sorting through emotions [13]. These tasks are vital for maintaining mental health stability and balance.

Additionally, research has consistently shown a strong association between inadequate sleep and increased mental distress. A study cited by the CDC found that insufficient sleep is linked to frequent mental distress, highlighting how lack of sleep can exacerbate psychological issues [14].

Are you getting your eight hours of sleep? I hope you are.

7. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Maintaining a gratitude journal is like planting seeds in your well-being garden.

One study observed nearly 300 adults, finding that those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health that lasted weeks after their last written expression of thanks [15]​​.

Another study further supports this, showing that gratitude helps in reducing symptoms of depression, fostering life satisfaction and stronger social bonds [16]​​.

These gratitude journals act as mirrors reflecting the good in our lives, shifting attention from toxic emotions and nurturing a healthier mental landscape​​.

So, regularly jotting down things you're grateful for isn't just an exercise in positivity; it's a scientifically backed pathway to a more joyful, emotionally balanced life.

Additional Readings

You May Also Like

Brushing Away Stress: How Art Unlocks Mental Well-being

The Power of Movement: Using Exercise to Combat Depression

Nature: 3 Reasons Why It’s The Ultimate Life Hack

The Neuroscience of Sleep; All You Need To Know








[7]Oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) is related to psychological resources | PNAS


[9]Animal Visitation Program (AVP) Reduces Cortisol Levels of University Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial - Patricia Pendry, Jaymie L. Vandagriff, 2019 (sagepub.com)

[10]Cardiovascular effects of human-pet dog interactions | Journal of Behavioral Medicine (springer.com)



[13]How sleep helps to process emotions | ScienceDaily

[14]Effect of Inadequate Sleep on Frequent Mental Distress (cdc.gov)

[15]Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial: Psychotherapy Research: Vol 28, No 2 (tandfonline.com)

[16]The Association between Gratitude and Depression: A Meta-Analysis (clinmedjournals.org)

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