8 Simple Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health

It’s never been more important to learn how to prioritize your mental health. With large portions of the population continuing to suffer from mental health disorders, it’s time to confront the importance of the topic and champion ways to promote wellbeing. Research on mental health shows that about one in five people in the U.S. […]

therapist william snyder By William Snyder, LPC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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It’s never been more important to learn how to prioritize your mental health. With large portions of the population continuing to suffer from mental health disorders, it’s time to confront the importance of the topic and champion ways to promote wellbeing.

Research on mental health shows that about one in five people in the U.S. suffer from mental health challenges. Late last year, the American Psychiatric Association reported that Americans were rating their mental health worse and anticipating more stress than they did the year before. Clearly, strained mental health is a common problem, and many things can contribute: economic concerns, physical health problems, workplace stress, relational conflict, anxiety-inducing media, and more.

Making mental wellness a priority is important. But how do you do that in daily life, especially when life gets busy? Read on for practical tips you can implement each day to improve your mental health. 

How Can I Start Prioritizing My Mental Health?

Grow Therapy provider Alan Deibel, LCPC, believes that the first step is to acknowledge how important mental health really is.

“Often, people identify that they would like to prioritize their mental health, but because they prioritize work, relationships, and tasks above mental health, the mental health gets the short end of the stick,” Deibel says. “If you don’t believe your mental health is important, there’s a good chance it will be delayed or postponed.”

Good mental health brings benefits in many areas of life:

The good news is, you don’t need hours of time every day. A lot can be accomplished simply by working small habits into your normal routine. “I always encourage clients to start small and build from there,” Deibel says. “Taking three minutes out of the day to breathe, or to list five things that you are grateful for, are things that most people could fit into the busiest of schedules.”

Taking three minutes out of the day to breathe, or to list five things that you are grateful for, are things that most people could fit into the busiest of schedules.

- Alan Deibel, LCPC

“When we can identify concrete tasks that we can do each day to contribute to our mental health, it becomes easier to prioritize,” Deibel says.

Grow therapy provider Kristian Wilson, LMHC, agrees. “Integrating short breaks for deep breathing or quick stretches during busy days can be beneficial,” she says.

Here are several simple ways to work on your mental health every day.

8 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

1. Monitor daily emotions and moods

An easy starting point is to become more aware of your mental state each day.

“I recommend ‘checking in’ with yourself early and often,” Deibel says. “Give consideration to how you feel from day to day, and how those feelings impact both your thoughts and actions.”

See if you notice any patterns in your thoughts and moods. See if certain situations, places, people, routines, or even the time of day impact your inner emotional landscape. When you understand your mental health, you are better equipped to care for it.

2. Practice gratitude

Fostering gratitude in your life can have a positive effect on mental health. It can create and enhance pleasant emotions, improve relationships, and even contribute to physical health. The neuroscience of gratitude suggests that it can strengthen your brain’s production of dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters responsible for positive feelings like happiness, reward, and motivation.

You can foster gratitude anytime, anywhere. Try some of these strategies:

3. Exercise

Exercise has been shown to improve mental health, often easing symptoms of common challenges like anxiety and depression. It affects physical health positively, too, making it a potent ingredient for a better quality of life.

Work more movement into your day by taking short walks, using the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further away while running errands, playing in the backyard with children or grandchildren, taking a swim, riding a bike, going for a jog, working on your lawn or garden, using a standing desk, scheduling walking meetings, or looking up exercise videos online at home. If you have the time, money, and interest, you can also get mental health benefits from joining a gym or playing a sport.

There are plenty of creative opportunities to integrate more physical activity into your daily life. Whatever you choose, it’s important to collaborate with your doctor on an exercise program that fits your lifestyle, fitness level, and health history.

4. Implement Mindfulness

Mindfulness is good for your brain and your body. It has been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, and play a positive role in those trying to overcome addiction to substances or smoking.

Mindfulness can be practiced whenever and wherever you have a moment to concentrate—over your lunch break, when you wake up, before you go to sleep, during breaks between tasks, on a walk, or resting on the couch at home. It doesn’t require special equipment or an hours-long commitment. To get started, check out a few mindfulness practices.

5. Focus on physical health

Physical concerns such as sleep, nutrition, and taking prescribed medications affect your mood and mental state. Because mental and physical health are interconnected, taking care of one will benefit the other.

Try caring for your physical health in small ways throughout the day:

6. Manage Stress

Stressors and burnout can really do a number on mental health, so stress management techniques will play an important role in many people’s mental health journey.

The CDC recommends some steps to manage your stress levels:

7. Practice self-care

People sometimes think of “self-care” as indulgences or special treats, and while these things are nice once in a while, self-care also includes practical, everyday well-being.

“I think of self-care as where you need to put your energy in order to operate as the best version of yourself,” says Deibel.

This can look different for different people, depending on their stressors. It might look like pampering yourself, making time for exercise, improving nutrition, taking up a hobby, going outside, or staying on a medication regimen. Deibel recommends partnering with a mental health professional to help develop a self-care plan that’s right for you.

“While occasional pampering can be enjoyable, practical self-care involves taking consistent actions to nurture one’s mental and emotional well-being,” Wilson says. “It can include maintaining healthy boundaries, saying no when necessary, practicing self-compassion and positive self-talk, seeking help when needed, and engaging in activities that bring a sense of purpose or joy.”

8. Set boundaries when needed

Boundaries with other people and boundaries with your schedule can ease many of the stressors that contribute to poor mental health.

When To Seek Professional Help

Sometimes, caring for mental health on your own isn’t enough. How do you know when to reach out to a professional mental health provider?

Some of the most severe indications would be suicidal or homicidal thoughts. These are emergencies that require calling 911, 988, or going to the nearest emergency room.

But apart from these urgent situations, you may notice more subtle signs of needing professional help, says Deibel. “Common indicators include persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, withdrawing from social activities, increased irritability or anger, and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.” Physical symptoms might include headaches, stomach or body aches, and fatigue.

Deibel adds that not every mental health symptom warrants intervention from mental health professionals; it’s more about how they affect you. “The presence of [mental health] symptoms alone does not mean that you have a mental illness, but if symptoms result in impairment in functioning, then some type of service is likely the best option.”

Deibel offers several questions that may help you determine whether to look into treatment options for your mental health issues. Ask yourself:

“If the answer to any of these questions is yes, there is a good chance that you may benefit from therapy,” Deibel says.

He also encourages his patients to evaluate how well their coping skills work. If your coping skills effectively resolve negative thoughts and feelings, that’s a positive sign. But if, despite your best coping mechanisms, you are still having negative thoughts and feelings that impact your life—or if your coping strategies might harm your body, such as substance abuse, self-injury, or binge eating—then therapeutic service may be needed.

“Remember,” says Wilson, “each individual’s experience is unique, and seeking professional advice is crucial when mental health concerns are impacting your well-being and quality of life.”

Find Support Through Grow Therapy

Grow Therapy can connect you with qualified mental health professionals who can help you achieve better mental wellness. Use our search tool to find a therapist in your area who accepts your insurance.


  • Good mental health can make you more productive, improve your social relationships, and increase your quality of life. It may also help you maintain your physical health and prevent certain types of stress-related ailments.

  • Everyday habits such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising, practicing mindfulness, and setting boundaries can help manage stress. Stress can sometimes be eased by scaling back on your commitments and workload where possible. If your stress does not respond to self-care measures, consider seeking help from a licensed mental health professional.

  • Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and your environment, without judging or attempting to change any of it. Mindfulness has benefits for mental health, physical health, mood, relationships, and more.

  • Many types of therapy and medication exist to treat mental health disorders. Only a professional mental health provider can determine which treatment is right for you. Some of the most common therapies include psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies, behavior therapies, humanistic therapies, and integrative/holistic therapies.

  • To seek evaluation and treatment from a mental health professional, ask your primary care provider for a referral, or reach out to behavioral health treatment centers in your area. You can also check online directories to find therapists who operate near you or are licensed for teletherapy in your state. If you are in the middle of a mental health crisis and are having suicidal or homicidal thoughts, call 911, 988, or visit your nearest emergency room.

About the author
therapist william snyder William Snyder, LPC

William Snyder is a licensed professional counselor who works with adults experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, depressed mood, loss and grief, identity and self-concept difficulties, relationship problems, life-transition difficulties, and traumatic memories.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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