Three Unexpected Ways to Improve Your Mental Health


DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal experience with mental health. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about how to improve your mental health. 


For the past seven years, I’ve been actively working on bettering my mental health. It all started with my first pregnancy, and since then I’ve been on and off antidepressants. I’ve seen therapists, a psychiatrist, and a psychologist and tried various therapies in order to find a place of healing and contentment. 

We all know that workouts, yoga, and meditation are proven to be some of the most effective practices we can do to maintain good mental health. It turns out there are smaller, less intimidating practices that we can include in our tool kit, too. In the last couple years, I’ve noticed three practices that can help to promote good mental health. These are practices that when done separately from each other might not seem like much, but when done regularly can help to keep our moods high.

As we hunker down for Michigan’s coldest months, here are three unexpected ways you can improve your mental health.

Always Have a Book

Since having kids, I never thought to make reading for pleasure a priority. I noticed something, though, when I was chapters-deep into a book. It brought me a sense of peace that lasted long after the chapter ended. By having that trusty novel companion on my nightstand or coffee table, I have a consistent and guaranteed way to unwind. I can pull myself out of my own mood or stressors, and focus on an entirely new world.

Just even one chapter in the middle of a hectic afternoon can be so worth it. Sometimes finding the time can be a challenge. Something I try to challenge myself with is taking a book to an appointment and reading in the waiting room instead of pulling out my phone. 

Create a “Liked Songs” Playlist

Okay, I may be the last one to the game in creating playlists, but now that I am here, I’m all in! I’ve always been more of a pre-made playlist sort of gal, but over the last year and a half, at the recommendation of my husband, I’ve been working to create a playlist of songs that I like. I know, so simple, right? I’ve been known to “Shazam” a song in the lumber aisle at Home Depot or outside at a gas station all in the name of finding the right beats.

My playlist has become my go-to remedy for when I’m feeling unmotivated or down. Need to clean the entire kitchen (that you just cleaned yesterday)? No problem! Need to shake off some negative energy? Bring it on! Struggling to get ready for the day? Nothing says “break out the power gloss” like Lizzo.

And the best part of it is, it’s yours. Who cares if you were made fun of for liking country music in elementary school? You blast that Keith Urban with pride. Curate whatever feels like a giant, warm hug. Mine consists of everything from Ed Sheeran to Van Morrison to Shania Twain (no Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Baby Shark allowed!). So far, in my experience, leaning on music has proven to be invaluable in maintaining good mental health.

Make Someone Smile

This one may seem counter-intuitive. We’re often told we need to set boundaries and serve ourselves first, especially when feeling mentally off. While this is true, there is something about making someone else smile. It brings us such joy, and therefore, a good mood.

Recently, I was having the typical case of your terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day. Everything was going wrong for what felt like no reason. It’s when I had my little boy in the car that I thought, “I have to turn this day around.” I went to Starbucks solely to buy a drink for the person behind me in the drive-thru, because I knew if I tried to make someone else smile, I’d get a smile in return.

Instantly, my day began to turn around. In times when we’re overwhelmed with deadlines, work, and kids’ commitments, it is true we have to first prioritize our own well-being. But, those feel-good hormones we get from bringing a smile to someone else can pay off for us, too!

Ultimately, there are dozens of practices we can do to make sure we stay our best selves. And this list by no means is a replacement for your already prescribed mental health plan laid out by a professional. But if I’ve learned anything in healing over the years, it’s that the small, maybe even unexpected, practices can add up to bring long-lasting change.

For more ways to better your mental health, you can check out our list of Virtual Therapy Apps for Mental Health Check-Ins. Be well!


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