6 tips to improve your mental health

Published May 12, 2022

John Franzen, MD, Psychiatrist

By John Franzen, MD, Psychiatrist

picture of a group of people relaxing outside

These days, our physical health garners so much attention that we can easily forget to take care of mental health. Our minds can impact how we deal with stress, mood, and ultimately, our behaviors. I recommend the following tips to help you improve and maintain positive mental health and well-being.

If you or someone you love is struggling with suicidal thoughts, there are resources to get them help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.TALK (8255) or 911.

1. Eat a balanced diet

Increasing evidence suggests that the gut and the brain are connected, and that what you eat can affect your mood, emotions and even depression. Eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and proteins, and limit sugars.

2. Exercise regularly

Exercise releases endorphins that help promote a positive mood, increased focus and helps reduce stress. Exercise may be as effective as antidepressants for mild depression.  

3. Appreciate the moment

Research shows that mindfulness practices such as meditation and yoga can help with increased resilience, stress reduction, improved mood and anxiety symptoms.

4. Connect with others

Social connection is vital to good mental health, has been linked with living a longer life and can be helpful during stressful times.

5. Get enough sleep

Sleep is important to recharge your energy levels and allows you to be more focused, more productive and function at your best.

6. Strive for balance in your life

Planning in advance your meals, exercise, mindfulness practice and time with family and friends allows you to be more intentional with how you spend your time and can promote a positive sense of health and well-being.

Even with the best effort and intentions, you may still experience depression. Early warning signs include: mood swings, low energy levels, eating or sleeping too much or too little and feeling helpless or hopeless. The good news is that depression is very treatable with a combination antidepressant medications and evidenced-based therapies.