10 Effective Ways To Prioritize Your Mental Health

I remember in college, a very close friend of mine tried to explain what it felt like living with anxiety. She described experiencing heavy feelings of panic, heart palpitations, and constant worrying. As much as I symphasized with how she felt, I couldn’t understand it because I never personally experienced it myself.

It wasn’t until a few years later after I graduated college, that anxiety became more than just a definition to me.

I felt completely lost in figuring out my next direction. On top of that, I had just left a toxic relationship that was emotionally and physically damaging to my well-being. I was so consumed with my own situations in my life, which caused me to completely disregard my mental health.

According to the CDC, “Mental health includes our 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 healthy choices.” I quickly realized that ignoring my mental health was like a domino effect—one area of my life would fall, and in turn, everything else would shortly follow. 

Making your mental health a priority isn’t a process that happens immediately. Most of the time it takes a conscious effort and work to put yourself first. But, if you focus on your mental health and feelings, you’ll find everything else will fall into place. Throughout the time it took me to put my mental health first, I learned important tips on how to make it always make it a priority. Read on to learn 10 effective ways to prioritize your mental health:

Disclaimer: Some links in this post might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product or service with the links provided, I may receive a small commission (with no extra cost to you!).

1. Create A Consistent Routine

I’ve never been a person who thrives off routines. If anything, I’m probably the definition of the complete opposite. Living in the current moment was always the most important to me, and everything else I would figure out along the way. While I’m still that way at times, I’ve found the best way to prioritize mental health is to create a routine you can stick to. A set routine helps you stay on track. It helps keep you consistent with everything you do. I like writing down what I have to do on paper, so investing in a planner or a notebook might help you stay on top of your tasks. Personally, I love spiral-guided planners to track daily tasks, habits, and goals for the month and year. It also makes it easier for me to accomplish what’s on my list when I can visually see what I have to do for the day. Plus, there’s just something satisfying about being able to check things off your list after you complete them.



 

2. Make Small Changes

Making changes to your routine doesn’t have to be major at first. I’ve never been a morning person—and pretty much everybody in my life knows this. I thought I would grow out of it after college, but turns out I’m just somebody who loves their sleep (maybe eventually I’ll thrive on less). Something I found that drastically improves my mental health is making small changes to what I’m already doing. Along with not being a morning person, I’m the same person who will snooze their alarm at least five times. Making small adjustments might look like getting into bed earlier, so you’re not feeling as exhausted the next morning.

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” — John C. Maxwell 


Make the commitment to start small with your changes. Even if it’s only one thing, one day at a time. I always feel better mentally when I start small and work my way up, plus it’s always easier to achieve. 

3. Avoid Burnout

The best way to avoid burnout is to be mindful of your time. Routines of course help this, but it’s also important to dedicate separating your time in blocks. The last few months I’ve been trying to navigate my website schedule. I eventually had to force myself to take scheduled breaks. I can easily spend hours upon hours in front of my computer—writing, researching, creating, etc. However, I came to the realization that not giving myself a break will cause burnout rather quickly. Even if you’re doing something you love, dedicating every waking second of your time will cause you feel overwhelmed, making it hard to complete tasks.

Something small that I started doing to help avoid burnout is setting a timer on my phone for a designated amount of time. When the timer goes off I’ll switch to a different task or take a break. I know I can’t be at my best mentally when I’m not allowing my mind and body to rest. 

4. Identify Any Emotional Triggers

Is there anything in your life that you find adds to the weight of your stress and anxiety? Maybe it’s following certain people or accounts that’s causing a switch in your mental health. We all know social media is a powerful tool. But it can also be detrimental to your health if it’s affecting you negatively. Especially if you find yourself in comparison to others or focusing on everything you don’t have. Identify the triggers that affect your emotions, and learn how to create the space to separate yourself from it. 

5. Dedicate Time To Exercise

A couple of summers ago, I injured my leg while I was running. I could hardly sleep on the left side of my body, and every time I attempted to work out it was extremely painful. After months of not wanting to deal with it, I finally committed to seeing a physical therapist to start the healing process. 

Not working out for months on end was such a mental struggle for me. Especially since I was always active. Once I made the decision to make my health a priority and work through the pain, my mental health improved drastically. Exercising can have such positive benefits for your mental health. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function.” 

After my physical health improved, I found it so important to incorporate a workout almost every day. Especially since the majority of my day is spent sitting at a desk. Some workouts I enjoy doing are walking, (walking pads are great to invest in if you also work from home), running, lifting weights, or using resistance bands. I try to aim for working out at least 45 minutes daily, but even on the days I can only exercise for 30 minutes, I’m still grateful I took time to move my body.



6. Journal Your Feelings

Writing my thoughts down on paper is such a stress-reliever to me. I always notice a shift in my mental health when I take the time to write out exactly how I’m feeling. Especially when I’m freewriting, where I write down all my thoughts without even thinking twice about what I’m writing. It can be such a healthy release to get everything off your chest. Plus, I love looking back at stuff I wrote, even in recent years. To read everything I was hoping for and believing in, and how my life has changed since then. 

There are so many diferent types of journals, but I recommend picking one that aligns most with your needs. Personally, I love having different kinds of journals depending on my mood. Sometimes when I feel pressed for time, I prefer a five-minute gratitude journal to reflect on prompted questions. Another book I’ve found super helpful is a self-love workbook, that consists of writing exercises to help you think outside of the box and get personal and real with yourself. Your preference for journaling depends on your self-needs, goals, and desires. But regardless of how or what you choose to journal in, sorting out your thoughts can be so helpful for your mental health.

7. Never Feel Guilty For Saying No

My mental health drastically improved when I learned how to start saying no. You don’t always have to agree to everything out of obligation. Especially if it’s not something you want to do. Not everybody needs an excuse why you don’t want to participate in something. Saying no is reason enough without feeling like you always have to explain yourself. This is where the importance of boundaries comes in, especially because you don’t always want to feel like you’re another person’s doormat. It’s okay to say no and stick by your decisions, especially if it’s protecting the state of your mental health. 

8. Spend Time With People Who Lift You Up

There’s nothing that makes me feel better when I’m down than spending time with the people who bring light to my life. Especially the people who make your life better by simply being in it. When your mental health feels low, it’s important to surround yourself with the people who lift you up. Whether you take the time to discuss your feelings, or just want to be in the presence of somebody who fills your cup. Sometimes the thing I need most when I’m feeling down is surrounding myself with the right people. 

9. Set Aside Time For Creativity

When we’re able to focus on other activities, it can be a good distraction from how we’re feeling. I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, but this could look different for everyone. Maybe you’re somebody who likes crafting, coloring intricate pictures, or doing puzzles. I also love getting lost in books. Focusing on something other than my situation, helps me to not obsess over it as much. It can also help me approach my situation with a clear head afterwards. Setting aside time for creativity can be so positive and helpful for improving your mood and mental health, especially when you’re feeling down. 



10. Focus On What You’re Grateful For, Not What You’ve Been Lacking

If you focus on what you don’t have, you’ll lose sight of everything you do have. It can be rather easy to fall into the trap of a bad state mentally when we’re focusing on the wrong things. You might not be where you want to be, but remember that you’re always farther than you were yesterday. Even during the points in my life where I felt the lowest, there was still always something I had to be grateful for. Even if it was as simple as living in a warm house and being able to take a hot shower. If you focus on everything you do have, you might just find yourself feeling more grateful than you did before.

Making your mental health a number one priority isn’t a process that happens overnight. It might be something you have to work on daily, but know that any progress is still progress. Once you make it a point to consistently put your mental health first, you won’t accept anything less for yourself.

Leave a Comment

30 Comments

  1. 1.31.24

    Mental health should be everyone’s priority. Spending time with loved ones really boosts you up to tackle more challenges.

    • 2.1.24

      Absolutely, I agree! & yes it does, I always feel refreshed after surrounding myself with the people who lift me up. ♥️

  2. 1.31.24
    Katey said:

    10 great tips. Thanks for sharing. 10 I find the most helpful for sure!

  3. 1.31.24
    Teresa said:

    I am just learning how to navigate my way through anxiety so prioritizing my mental heath is my top goal for this year! I have been doing at home yoga, trying my best to make small changes and become a morning person & stop feeling guilty for saying no. This article was exactly what I needed to read to keep me motivated!!

    • 2.1.24

      I’m glad it was what you needed! Those are all great things to work on & prioritize to help your mental health!! Setting goals and working towards them consistently is what helps us achieve them. Hope you find all the relief and peace to work through the heavy feelings of anxiety! One day at a time. ♥️

  4. 1.31.24
    Melanie said:

    These suggestions hit close to home. I recently got laid off from my job and it has taken a toll on my mental health. Appreciate the reminders.

    • 2.1.24

      I am so sorry to hear about your job loss. Unfortunately, I was in those shoes not too long ago. It was hard for me to be in a good place mentally afterward because I kept attaching my self-worth to my job.

      After I learned how to work through the heavy feelings, I found peace in knowing that some doors have to close so other ones can open. I hope you find peace and comfort knowing that there is something so much better for you & it’ll come to you at the right timing.

      Thinking of you during this difficult time! ♥️

  5. 1.31.24
    Katie said:

    Such great tips! Learning to say “no” and not feeling guilty about it has been huge for me. Also, surrounding myself with people who uplift me, and learning to set boundaries around those who don’t (if they are unavoidable). Great

    • 2.1.24

      Thank you so much! I’m glad they resonated with you. Surrounding yourself with the right people & setting boundaries is definitely so important. It’s all about creating that space and learning how to separate yourself from it to protect your mental health. I definitely still struggle with it at times, but am slowly getting better as time goes on!

  6. 1.31.24
    Riyah Speaks said:

    These are all true. Most importantly as someone who lives with anxiety and depression everyday, I feel like it’s always important to have an outlet for expressing oneself such as journaling and to go to therapy. Good post!

    • 2.1.24

      Journaling throughout some of the hardest times has been a lifesaver for me. There’s just something about putting it all out there & expressing your true feelings. Even if I’m the only one who ever reads it! Therapy is super helpful too—it’s all crucial for keeping our mental health in check. ♥️

  7. 1.31.24
    Angelia said:

    Great read and helpful tips! Thanks for sharing!

  8. 1.31.24

    I love this! Saying “no”, routine, and exercise are my self-care go-to’s!

  9. 1.31.24
    Anna said:

    Great article! Mental health is so important and I remember when I couldn’t understand what panic attacks were either but now that I have had a couple, I completely understand.

    • 2.1.24

      Thank you! I’m sorry to hear you’ve been through that too. It’s crazy how much our mindsets shift after we personally go through and experience something that we haven’t before. It brings a whole new level of compassion and understanding.

  10. 2.1.24
    Heather said:

    This is an incredibly thoughtful post. I didn’t put much stock into my mental health for most of my life. That neglect led to constant anxiety, resentment and eventually burnout. It became clear that I had to make a change. It started with small changes, but those small changes made a big impact very quickly. And now I clearly see that a happier, healthier me helps my family be happier and healthier, too. The one thing I’m still working on is saying no and setting boundaries. That one’s a toughy!

    • 2.1.24

      Thank you so much! It’s ironic how we might not even realize sometimes that we’re neglecting our mental health until we step back and see how it’s impacting everything around us. Saying no and setting boundaries is a challenge & something that I still find myself struggling with at times. But I always find if I don’t speak how I feel and establish those important boundaries then I’m only hurting myself in the end. It’s all a work in progress!

  11. 2.1.24
    Sarah said:

    I have found truth with all of those tips on improving mental health. I struggled with teenage/ early adult depression. Since moving away from that I have done majority of your tips. Staying consistent helps and knowing it’s not an overnight process.

    • 2.1.24

      Working through depression as a teenager & young adult can be really difficult. Especially with all the life changes/transitions throughout those years and the constant pressure to have it all figured out. It took me years to learn what really helps and benefits my mental health. It’s a journey, no doubt, but worth it when you find what works the best for you. ♥️

  12. 2.1.24
    Debbie said:

    These are valuable tips for supporting mental health. Dedicating time to exercise is so important. I need to better prioritize that into my daily schedule.

    • 2.1.24

      It’s always hard to get started at first but now that I’ve been in a consistent routine it’s a lot easier to maintain!

  13. 2.1.24
    Kelsey said:

    As a homeschooling mom to 4, mental and spiritual health are imperative, especially as an introvert. Very practical advice here. I also prioritize Bible time, personally.

    • 2.1.24

      Wow that’s incredible!! & thank you, I definitely agree with you it’s important to stay on track with both mental and spiritual health. Spending time in the Bible always brings me comfort and peace knowing I’m never alone even in the times I feel like I am. ♥️

  14. 2.1.24
    Jasmine said:

    I wish I read this in my first year of college back in 2001 😅 I had struggled with depression and these tips are valuable especially learning how to say “No” and setting boundaries. Thank you for sharing!

    • 2.1.24

      I’m glad you find them valuable!! I agree—the period throughout college was such a difficult transition for me. Even though I didn’t experience anxiety until after graduating, I think that knowing how to manage my mental health could’ve helped a lot of the situations I went through. I appreciate you reading!

  15. 2.28.24
    Amberly said:

    As a anxiety sufferer myself, I learned to implement many of these suggestions as well. I especially learned how to slow down and be easy on myself to reduce anxiety episodes.

    • 2.29.24

      So important for our mental health! I feel like once we can identify what triggers it, then it helps us learn how to handle it moving forward. Especially when it comes to anxiety!