33 Best Self-care Ideas to Improve Your Mental Health

“Well, I can just jump from my 21st-floor balcony. That would be instant death, right?” I asked my friend.
“That’s too much effort. You know,” answered my friend. “I think to drink that liquid detergent,” she added. 
“But that would not be effective! You might not die and get hospitalized instead,” I responded, jokingly.
“Who said you will definitely die after jumping from the 21st floor?”
We laughed. On suicidal jokes.

That conversation happened around 4 years ago, at the end of 2016. While most people enjoy a holiday, I was stuck working overtime to make my ends meet. My friend shared her frustration, too, with her overtime and high credit card debt. I was going through several breakups. To make my depression perfect, I came from a broken family, with domestic violence and marriage affairs. Such perfect ingredients for depression!

Depression is a silent epidemic that creeps out the whole world. Someone with depression might find hard it to do anything, even to get out from a bed. Not even to improve their life.

Healing from depression is hard, but it is possible to improve your mental health. The good news is there are always some easy ways to cope with depression. In Feeling Good, David Burns describes that the first step to combat depression is to do something. Just to do one tiny little thing. Because doing nothing will not make our condition better. By doing something, we prove to ourselves that we have the power to change our condition. It is that simple.

I wish that I read his book earlier! But yeah, I am grateful that I still have a chance to live and heal from my depression. Unconsciously, I always try to do something to take care of myself. What I find is that self-care is the key to improve our mental health drastically. Because it’s a form of doing something and taking care of our mental health. Anyone can do their self-care! It’s about self. There is self in self-care, right?

33 Self-care Ideas to Improve Your Mental Health

Fast forward 4 years later, the suicidal thoughts have already gone. I am in a happy marriage and a work-life balance job. My friend’s credit card debt has already been paid off, too. When we take proper self-care for ourselves, our life will become better without we know it.

In the list below, you will find 33 self-care ideas to improve your mental health.

Declutter the things that bring bad memories

At first, I didn’t realize the power of decluttering. Turns out, Marie Kondo-ing your belongings will definitely improve your mental health. Just throw out the things that don’t spark joy! That photo with your ex? Burn them out. Do declutter especially if the trauma is so strong. I don’t want to bring my family trauma again to my life, so I dumped any watercolor, photos, and clothes that remind me of my childhood. And that works well! However, if throwing away any goods sounds extreme, you can put everything in a box and put it out of sight.

Find a support group online or offline

Improve your mental health

A support group will always helpful for you to improve your mental health. If you can’t or don’t want to join a face-to-face support group, you can always find an online support group. Hearing other people’s stories can help you feel less isolated and help you to reflect on your own struggles.

Have a mental health buddy

A close friend or a partner is all that you need. Opening up to your buddy will help you to look after yourself especially when you have a bad day or can’t get out of your bed.

Keep in touch with your friends

It might be hard for us to talk with our friends when we are depressed. The depressed person tends to isolate themselves, but I know well that this just going to make the depression worse. Stop this perpetual cycle of depression by hanging out with your friends. Or anyone. Yes, there is a risk of rejection or uneasiness, but the benefit of reaching out to your friend is higher than the risk.

Make a list of what makes you happy

I find that a happiness list is so useful! List down any activities, videos, songs, books, food, or anything that make you happy. Look up to your happiness list whenever you feel down in the dump. 

Improve your mental health

Here are some ideas to put on your happiness list:

  • List out the video you find relaxing (I like to watch The Cottage Fairy, Li Ziqi, and Haegreendal!)
  • Books you like to read
  • Places you like to go like a nearby park or a cozy restaurant
  • Comfort food you like (maybe a cookie, ice cream, or chocolate)
  • Friends you can bump into

The lists are endless!

Make a mood tracker

Keeping a mood tracker in hand will help you to avoid the things that make your mood low. I use Daylio to track my mood, and I’m quite surprised with my mood improvement by tracking my mood! Having a mood tracker will help us to recognize the things that make us feel bad. Doesn’t mean we have to avoid everything that makes us feel bad, like, I feel bad if I have to do my job. But, we can find a solution on how to make it better for us.

Find your non-negotiable for your mental health

Non-negotiable is the things that you need every day that will make you feel good and better. This will be easier if you already track your mood or journal daily. Most often, the non-negotiables are rather simple and about basic self-care routines. For example, my non-negotiable are sleep for 7 to 9 hours around 10pm, morning exercise, and writing a gratitude list. If I miss one or two of my non-negotiables, I notice that my day not going better than usual. When I got my non-negotiable fulfilled, my day went better! So, what’s your non-negotiable?

See also: 4 Essential Self-care Routine and How to Make it Sustainable

Appreciate small wins

Appreciating everything we do will helps us to lift up our mood. Be our own cheerleader! Sometimes, we even find it hard to just get out of our bed. Believe in yourself that you can change your life. You can use the words of affirmation here:

Dear myself, you are so awesome to ____________ today! Thank you for taking the effort. I believe today will be awesome for you 🙂

Join a new class with new people

This going to make a difference. You don’t always have to socialize with other people, just joining a new yoga class, 5K run, or cooking class will give you a new experience and break that depression cycle a bit.

Stop overwork!

It’s no secret that overwork can interfere with mental health. If a job costs you mental health, then it’s not worth it. I decided to resign from my demanding finance job and I can say this is my best decision ever during my 20s. I am not suggesting you change your job right away. You can always change your work style and practice self-care at work. Respect your own time because time is the greatest wealth that cannot be replaced by anything else.

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Write the things you’re grateful for

The act of gratitude can lift up our moods and shift our perspective to the more positive one. I like to write a gratitude list in my digital journal. We can be grateful for almost everything! The fact that you are reading this post means that you are alive now. And that’s something to be grateful of 🙂

Have a self-care list

The self-care list is different from the happiness list I described above. Maybe some self-care doesn’t bring you any burst of happiness, like eating healthy food or doing a home workout. But, self-care will bring so much benefit to improve your mental health. Also, remember that self-care isn’t selfish! No need to feel guilty about having self-care. Make your self-care list easy so you can do that any time of your day.

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Self-care ideas

Read a joyful story

Carefully select your book or your movie for the happy one. Reading an uplifting story will help you to sparks some hope to heal your life.

Do a social media detox

Sometimes social media can drag us down. We unconsciously compare ourselves with people who look happier, richer, or more successful. Those comparison games can make us feel worse. Remove all social media apps from your phone! I have been inactive from social media for more than 3 years, and I can tell that my mental health improved drastically. After all, we can always use the web version of social media.

Stay active

Dopamine is a natural substance that will make us feel good. And it will appear when we stay active and sweat out. You already know the benefit of exercise, right? If you don’t like to exercise, you can:

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Expose yourself to nature

Boost your mood with that natural vitamin D! Sunbathe on the balcony or the terrace. Enjoy the blue sky that always within our reach. Open the window and put a houseplant nearby. Walk to a nearby park and put down your phone. It’s always a good idea to expose ourselves to the beauty of nature.

Take a vacation

Allow yourself some slack and enjoy a relaxing vacation. Of course, do this if it’s already safe from the pandemic. Focus on enjoying the moment, not for a status update. Savor the experience for yourself!

Do a random act of kindness

When we are depressed, we tend to self-centered and focus on having things for ourselves. However, study shows that doing a random act of kindness to other people boost our mood, too. Because by doing so we make other people feel better and that means we are a good person. Try to message a good morning motivation to your friends, open up the door for strangers, or leave a good comment for any online purchase.

Watch a cute animals video

Wonder why funny cat videos are so interesting? Because it makes us feel better. So, no need to feel guilty about binge-ing funny cat videos on the internet.

Play with a pet

It’s even better if you have a pet to watch a funny animal. A company of pet will help you to feel less isolated from this world. I am both a dog and cat person! 

Go to the dog park

If you don’t have a pet, then going to a dog park is a good alternative. Similarly, you can crash into your friend’s house who has a pet.


Dumping everything in your journal will help you to release the negative feelings and thoughts. Just do free writing and jot down anything that comes to your mind.

Eat well

What we eat affects our health and ultimately our mood. A balanced and nutritious diet will help you maintain good physical and mental health. Eat regularly, avoid junk or processed foods, consume whole goods, and stay hydrated. Also, make a chance to eat with your friends. Eating together is a potent mood booster.

Sleep for 7-9 hours before 12 am

Ever feeling groggy and bad mood right after waking up? You might be sleep-deprived. Sleep at 10 pm whenever it’s possible. Thanks to Matt Walker and Chris Winter, now we see sleep in a new light. Sleep is the key to a healthy mind and healthy body, so, let’s prioritize sleeping!

See also: 27 Self-care Ideas for a Good Night Sleep

Make a cozy atmosphere

A cozy home brings a good mood. Put some pillows, diffuse essential oil, decorate your room, light a candle, install warm light bulbs, turn on relaxing music, and tidy up your home. Who doesn’t like a cozy place?

Tidy up your home in general

A tidy home will help us to think clearly. Start small with just a 1-minute tidy-up. You will be surprised at how much you can do in one minute!

Have your comfort food nearby

Stock up some herbal tea, dark chocolate, ice cream, or your favorite snacks. No need to counting calories and feel guilty about having comfort food! Just make sure not to make mental health an excuse to binge eating.

Practice mindfulness

Train yourself to be mindful of your thought. Gaining awareness will help you to distinguish between emotions, thoughts, and facts that contribute to your mental health. You don’t need to meditate to practice mindfulness. Looking at the window gracefully is a good start to practice mindfulness.

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Do your spiritual or religious ritual

Do your religious or spiritual ritual if that makes you calm. For some, meditation is also a spiritual ritual. Connect to your highest self is a good idea to take care of your mental health.

Relax yourself

Have a skincare routine, indulge yourself in a spa, get a massage, or order a take-out! Take things slowly. No need to feel guilty about taking some relaxation, especially after a hard day or week.

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Make boundaries to things that don’t serve you

Say no to the exhausting party or that family gathering. In the end, you are the one who knows better to take care of yourself. Taking a self-care is not selfish, because everyone focuses on themselves, too.

See also: 10 Self-care Myths that You Should Never Believe

Practice daily affirmation

What we thought affects our moods, feelings, and mindset. Affirm yourself with positive words and thoughts. Look at the mirror, smile, and say that “I am worthy of love!”. Here are 31 positive affirmations that will make you feel better.

Have fun!

Above all, have fun in your mental health journey. Take everything easy, be gentle, and no need to be hard on yourself. After all, it’s about yourself!

What are your favorite self-care ideas?

Hopefully, these self-care ideas will help you to improve your mental health. Know that you always have the power within you to change your life! 
Improving your mental health will be better with a planner. So, make sure you check the free planner gallery to grab a self-care journal and wellness tracker for you.

Depression is a serious issue. This website provides general educational information on various topics which should not be construed as professional advice. Please refer to the Disclaimer page. These are my personal opinions only. If you suffer from a depression, consult to a medical professional.

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