Mental Health and Well-Being

A senior Black couple is riding bicycles by a beach.

Mental health includes your emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.

Caring for yourself isn’t just about your personal well-being. It’s also about everyone you care for and love.


What can you do to improve your mental health and well-being?

1 Slow down.

Plan and allow enough time to get the most important things done without rushing.

2 Snooze more.

Try to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. To fight insomnia, add mindfulness and activity.

3 Let worry go.

The world won’t end if a few things fall off your plate. Give yourself a break and just breathe.

4 Laugh it up.

Laughter makes us feel good. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud, even when you’re alone.

5 Get connected.

A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Make time to call friends or family so you can catch up.

6 Get organized.

Use “to-do” lists to help you focus on your most important tasks and take big projects one step at a time.

7 Practice giving back.

Volunteer your time or spend time helping a friend. Helping others helps you.

8 Be active every day.

Physical activity can relieve mental and physical tension. Find something you think is fun and stick with it.

9 Give up bad habits.

Too much alcohol, tobacco or caffeine can increase blood pressure. Cut back or quit to decrease anxiety.

10 Lean into things you can change.

Make time to learn a new skill, work toward a goal or to love and help others.

11 Talk to someone and get help.

Learn to identify when you are stressed, anxious or even depressed. It’s normal to experience these emotions. Start with these steps:

Identify the cause.

Identify the cause of your depression, stress or anxiety, and address it.

Seek therapy if necessary.

At times, you may feel down for a couple of days. But if it goes on for two weeks or more, you may need to seek help. Depression is a problem when it causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease your ability to function at work and at home.

Choose healthy habits.

Choose healthy habits and don’t rush it.

If you aren’t in the habit of exercising, start gradually.

Taking a walk 30 minutes a day, even just 10 minutes at a time, can help your heart. Physical activity improves your mood while you’re doing it. Regular physical activity can also improve your mental well-being, lower the risk of depression and improve your overall quality of life.

Has reaching for unhealthy foods become a habit? Try using healthier cooking techniques or substituting ingredients to cut down on saturated fat, added sugar, sodium and calories. Grab healthy snacks, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, or choose lightly dressed salads and other low-fat dishes when eating out.

Incorporate other lifestyle changes.

Incorporate other healthy lifestyle changes one at a time.

Don’t try to “fix” everything at once. That’s especially true if one of the habits you want to break is smoking.

Quitting smoking can be difficult. If you smoke, talk with your health care professional to determine if you need medications or other help to quit. Therapies may include nicotine replacement or prescription medicines.

You could also ask for a referral for a smoking cessation program. Take care of yourself to break the cycle of feeling down. That could be doing something structured, such as a yoga class or tai chi practice. Or it could be something you can do anywhere, such as meditating, listening to music or reading a book.