18 Genuinely Helpful Mental Health Tips Everyone Should Know

Written By Elizabeth Ervin

Today is a great day to be sober. Thanks for stopping by.

As someone who lives with depression, I’ve had lots of unhelpful advice thrown my way. Telling someone to “just cheer up” or to “think about all the positive things in your life” is not helpful. Because of these instances, I, unfortunately, have dismissed tips that prove to be helpful. After someone asked an online health forum for their best mental health tips, these were their best responses.

1. Sitting Outside for 15 Minutes Daily

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Sitting in the sun for 10-15 minutes was something I didn’t fully grasp until I stayed in California. Unfortunately, Seattle doesn’t provide ample opportunity to bask in the sunlight. However, being kissed by the sunshine in the Golden State naturally lifted my mood daily.

Being ten minutes from the beach certainly helped. Regardless of visual sunshine, spending 15 minutes outside is the best way to absorb necessary vitamin D for mood and energy. Leave your tech devices inside and enjoy being in the moment with your surroundings.

2. Getting Exercise In Some Form

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Exercising or walking was a highly recommended activity for boosting mental health. However, many are skeptical. For starters, people suffer from severe depression, which makes it impossible to get out of bed.

Nonetheless, those who have been able to start exercising they’ve expressed positive impacts. While some found motivation at the gym, others walked around their block several times and found it was enough to lift spirits. Finally, one confessed it allowed her to indulge in her favorite podcasts and audiobooks.

3. Changing the Voice of Your Hateful Self Thoughts to Someone You Dislike

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“Changing the voice of your hateful self-thoughts to someone you dislike, so they are easier to dismiss.” This user shared one of my favorite new tips.

She elaborated that when her brain tells her she’s “fat and unlovable,” she hears it in Ted Cruz’s voice. So she can dismiss it with a “Shut the fridge up, Ted,” never dwelling on the thoughts again. Who will you choose to be that voice?

4. Taking Probiotics

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Did you know that your gut microbiome significantly impacts your emotions? Taking the right probiotic combined with healthier eating is a natural way to make you feel better in ways you may not even realize are affecting you.

5. Talk to Yourself Like You Would to the Younger You

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“Talk to yourself like you would to the younger you.” One woman shared the practice of pulling out a photo of herself as a kid before asking, “Would I say that to this little girl? No, so why is it OK that I’m saying it now?

Another shared they, too, use this tactic. However, they talk to themself as if talking to their best friend, noting, “If you wouldn’t say it about your dearest friend, why are you saying it about you?” 

6. Stop Drinking Caffeine

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Oof. As someone from the land of Starbucks and espresso drive-thru stands on every corner, giving up coffee is a tough one for me. However, caffeine is a terrible stimulant, especially if you have anxiety. While some swear it helps them focus, others confess it keeps them fatigued with rapid heartbeats, jitters, and increased anxious thoughts and behaviors.

7. Morning Walk Outside

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“Getting natural light first thing in the morning is important for triggering cortisol production, which will motivate you first thing in the morning.” I’ve rolled my eyes at this mental health tip before, but if you can get up, it can be mood-boosting. It gets your blood flowing, your body moving, and fresh air to open up those airways first thing.

8. Deep Breathing

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I’ll admit that this was one of those cliche-sounding tips that I dismissed as helpful when I was in active addiction. However, breathing is the quickest way to center and calm yourself.

One best explains, “Deep breathing seems so hokey, but once you learn diaphragmatic breathing (bonus points if you use an Apple Watch or some biofeedback to see the bodily impact), it helps so much with feeling regulated.”

9. Eating Healthy

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Another cliche-sounding tip is eating healthy. However, American food is poison. It’s packed with numerous chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

So if it’s destroying your physical health, it only makes sense it’s destroying your mental health too. Countless forum members admit that a switch in diet has affected their mood and overall well-being and health.

10. Seeing a Therapist

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Seeing a therapist is ideal for improving mental health. From trauma to daily struggles at home and work, mental health professionals can give insight from an academic perspective on the outside looking in, which is invaluable.

However, sometimes it can take a few attempts to find the right therapist, therapeutic philosophy, and treatment plan. So don’t be discouraged; find another if it doesn’t feel like a good fit.

11. Positive Affirmations

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“Telling yourself you’re worth it (or any other positive affirmation) in front of the mirror,” one shares. “I found it weird (and the only time I saw that happen was on TV/movies), but I became emotional doing it. It was healing in some way. I still find the practice awkward, so now I say it in my head or write it down.”

12. Setting Boundaries

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Saying no to things that don’t bring you joy, even if letting someone else down. “Letting myself down is worse.” One confessed this philosophy was a “life changer” for them.

It turned their life around when they finally learned that that’s OK to say no—finally, learning to defend themself and value their opinions as mattering. Setting healthy boundaries is an integral part of recovery and healthy relationships too.

13. Replace the Words “Silly” and Dumb.”

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Another tip one suggests is replacing the words “stupid” and “dumb” with the word “silly.” Instead of saying, “Ugh, I’m so stupid!” Say, “Oops, I made a mistake, silly me!” The user further notes that it allows them to stop beating themselves up, and it’s also helped manipulate the idea they aren’t dumb, just someone who makes mistakes like everybody else. “And that’s OK.”

14. Journaling

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OK. Before you roll your eyes, journaling has sincerely benefited my mental health. Prayer journaling is my favorite journal style because I ask the Lord and the universe for things and often watch them manifest better than I imagined.

Daily journaling to get your thoughts out of your head and onto paper is also an excellent way to articulate feelings and quiet your mind by releasing that chaos and anxiety. Additionally, writing from journal prompts can be healing and enlightening.

15. Get a Pet Companion

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Do you love animals? Numerous people suggest that having a dog or a cat has been a massive help to their mental health. I can attest to this. My father passed away two years ago, and I rescued a gray cat from a pet shop window on his second birthday. He’s never left my side.

He’s purring beside me even as I share this post with you. However, if you’re not in the right headspace or financial situation, getting a pet is not the right tip for you. It’s a big responsibility and a couple of decades of commitment.

16. Turning Your Negative Thoughts Into Positive Thoughts

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Reframing your mindset by shaping negative thoughts into positive ones is a mental health tip many vouched for as being legit. It’s a helpful Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) tool that can drastically improve mental health.

For example, one explained changing, “He always cries and bugs me when I’m on a work call!” To “Maybe I’ve been on too long, and he needs a snack with me for some interaction. I could use a break anyway for ten minutes.”

17. I GET To Do Things. Not I HAVE To

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“I GET to do things. Not I have to.” Making this sentence change is “simple and dumb.” But, according to many, it does enough to change your mindset that “even chores aren’t as miserable.”

A cat lover confessed that it changed how they feel about cleaning litter boxes. They used to dread it. But when they started framing it as “I get to clean this and improve my cat’s lives and make them happier,” it became a pleasure, not a chore.

18. Doing a Little Thing Badly Is Better Than Doing Nothing At All

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Finally, “It is better to do a little bit of a good thing badly than not at all.” So, for example, if jogging is not feasible, go for a walk. If you can’t brush your teeth for two minutes, it’s still better to do 30 seconds than nothing.

If you can’t clean the entire closet, work on it for 15 minutes. It’s a mindset and practice that often leads to getting more done. You start learning to “give yourself permission.” If you’re working out and forcing yourself on a day that’s not right, permit yourself to cut it short.

This thread inspired this post.

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This article is produced and syndicated by Sober Healing.

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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.