According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental illness is common in the United States. Approximately 1 in 5 US adults live with mental illness, including mild and severe conditions. The most common treatment for various mental health disorders is medication.

How to Boost Your Mental Health Naturally

If medication isn’t for you, you can alleviate mild-to-moderate mental health symptoms naturally by doing the following. Do not stop taking your medications before consulting your doctor.

1. Switch Up Your Routine

There are several bad habits that affect our mental health, but we do them anyway because they provide a quick release from stress. There’s nothing wrong with scrolling through TikTok or playing video games so long as these habits aren’t distracting you from more important things.

Switching up your routine isn’t easy, so be gentle with yourself and go slow. Try not to beat yourself up when you make a mistake. Reward yourself when you pass habit milestones.

2. Aim to Exercise Regularly

Exercise is great for every part of your body, including your mind. An elevated heart rate releases endorphins in your brain, which improve your mood. Plus, exercise helps you sleep better, look your best, and feel more confident, further alleviating mild-to-moderate depression.

You can improve your mental health further by joining a fitness community, like Physeek.Fit. It can be hard to find the motivation to exercise when you’re in a bad mood or anxious, but your friends and family can offer you support. You can even ask them to join you at the gym.

3. Practice Mindfulness/Meditation

Whether you’re worried about the future or you’re currently feeling anxious, mindful meditation can help regulate your breathing and relax your body. Mindfulness interventions are known to reduce stress, help manage chronic pain symptoms, and prevent depressive relapses.

Yoga and psychotherapy can also support mental health, but you should seek guidance from a teacher or mental health professional. Start your meditation journey by practicing for 2 minutes a day, focusing on your breath. If you can remain calmly seated for 2 minutes, try to go longer.

4. Focus on your Nutrition

About 95% of your serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract, proving that nutrition and mental health are strongly correlated. Serotonin is commonly known as a mood stabilizer, but it also aids digestion. However, choosing the right “happy” diet for your needs isn’t easy.

The World Health Organization can give us a good idea of what to eat. They recommend a diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. 30% of your diet should come from unsaturated fats, like avocados and soy. Avoid most meat, all dairy, and processed foods.

5. Go Outside (Use Sunscreen)

Many people find that spending time outside improves their mood disorders. Humans were meant to spend most of their day out in the sun, but our sedentary lifestyle has pulled us away from nature. Even during the winter, some fresh air can help improve your overall outlook.

Since the sun produces vitamin D, a vitamin that stabilizes mood, you should adopt a hobby that encourages you to spend time in your backyard. Bike riding, bird watching, and gardening are common outdoor pastimes. Just make sure you wear sunscreen to protect your skin.

6. Volunteer or Help Someone Else

Volunteering can provide you with a sense of satisfaction and help you make friends. Don’t volunteer as a way to compare your life to others, as it may make you feel worse. Mental disorders don’t discriminate, so whether you’re rich or poor, depression can happen to anyone.

Stick to charities and organizations you feel truly make a difference. Try helping an animal shelter, immigration services, doctors without borders, or a mental health awareness group.