These Are My Best Daily Habits to Create Mental Well-being: One a Day for a Happier Life

Does building mental well-being seem like a huge task? Not if you break it down into these powerful daily habits. 

While my work focuses predominantly on physical well-being, I cannot deny there is a major link between mental health and overall well-being. Mind and body are inextricably linked; there’s no way around that. 

Exercise routines are habits, and building good habits is valuable to more than just your physical health. 

The whole concept of mental well-being can be overwhelming, though, so here I’m going to simplify it for you. I’ll be giving you seven habits to implement—one each day of the week—to maximize your mental well-being. 

Daily Habits for a Happier Life

We all just want to be happy, right? So, why does that seem so darn difficult sometimes? Now, my expertise is in the physical body, but I often see clients coming in who are clearly going to struggle to make exercise a part of their daily routine, because their mental well-being is not where it needs to be. 

For these clients, I gently try to help them form great habits in their daily lives that will impact their overall well-being and, in turn, help them get what they want from their physical health journey. 

Daily Habit #1: Sleep on It 

Believe it or not, about a third of our lives is spent in bed—yes, I mean sleeping, not…the other stuff. Sleep is just as important to our survival as breathing, eating, and drinking. 

If you’ve ever gone just a couple of days without a decent night’s sleep, you know what an impact it can have on your mental and emotional health. Insufficient or poor-quality sleep impacts your memory, emotions, and even your critical thinking skills. 

The best way I can recommend getting a good night’s sleep (on most nights at least) is establishing a sleep schedule and sticking with it. Set a time to go to bed and, as far as possible, keep to that time. When you go to bed, that means no mobile phones or television. 

Your brain is really good at making connections, so you definitely want to connect your bedroom with the concept of rest. That means keeping the space comfortable and free from distractions. 

If you struggle to sleep, I recommend anything that doesn’t involve a screen to occupy your mind for a few minutes until you try to fall asleep again. Reading a book, meditating, or doing some breathing exercises are all great ways to do this. 

Daily Habit #2: Banish Negative Thoughts

Sometimes it’s really easy to allow ourselves to slip into a cycle of negativity, which is fed by negative thoughts and these slip into your life, poisoning it with difficulties and painful events. When you’re in that cycle of negativity, it can be really difficult to think positively, but I have found that it is the only way to break the vicious circle. 

Like most other things, thinking positively is a habit and it is a choice. You can choose the thoughts you allow to occupy your mind. The best way to start making this a habit is to start small. 

Each morning, say out loud that you are going to have a good day. Keep your eye open for good things that happen during the day and acknowledge them. We are all really good at noticing the bad stuff and casting aside the good things. Make it your habit to change that around. 

Notice beautiful flowers or how good someone’s perfume or cologne smells. Savor a delicious meal or allow yourself to stand in a warm shower and just enjoy the moment. 

You will be amazed at how quickly your overall mindset can change if you set out to find positivity each day. Of course, negative thoughts are going to slip in, that’s the balance of life, but the key is not to focus on them and let them poison your life. 

Daily Habit #3: Eat Well and Increase Your Activity Levels 

You had to expect this one. I am a fitness expert after all. These two things really are vital to overall wellness, though. 

Our bodies are essentially biological machines, and, just like every other type of machine, if you put the wrong type of fuel into it or park it in a garage and don’t use it, there will be an overall impact on long-term functioning. 

By the same token, if you make junk and processed foods the biggest part of your diet and don’t ever engage in an exercise, your body and mind are going to suffer. 

Despite my profession, I’m not here to tell you that you have to go to the gym every day or have a really structured exercise routine. 

You will see a huge benefit from any increased activity, especially if it’s outdoors. I always recommend doing a form of exercise you enjoy, because then you are far more likely to do it often. So, walk the dog, or go for a hike with friends, whatever you do, get your blood pumping. 

I often help my clients change their eating habits, simply because what you eat is so closely tied to achieving fitness goals, but I’m the first person to tell you that it is the small changes that make a huge difference. 

Reducing the amount of processed foods you eat, increasing the number of whole foods in your basket, and limiting the refined sugar you eat are all small changes that make a big difference. 

Daily Habit #4: Take a Break

Yes, I know, this one is easier said than done, especially in the crazy, high-paced world we live in. It is precisely because we lived in such a hectic environment that taking time out is vital for our mental well-being. 

Access to the internet and social media means we can now get our information quickly, we are constantly on the go and receiving information, and responding with various emotions. In certain aspects, this is a good thing because we are now more connected than ever and we can communicate with family and friends and take advantage of support networks.

Unfortunately, this can also be really taxing on us emotionally and mentally. So, really taking time out does not need to mean going to a tropical island for a week (although that would be great!). In today’s world, taking time out can mean deleting social media apps from your phone for a week or two or removing news apps. 

Taking time out means practicing self-care by removing yourself from whatever is causing your emotional or mental distress or overload. This will look different for everyone, but it does mean you need to be self-aware and understand what is negatively impacting you. 

Daily Habit #5: Find a Hobby 

I can hear you saying it, “I don’t have time for a hobby!” And probably also, “You just told me to take a break and now you want me to pick up a hobby?” Yes, I am. 

When you use your brain for something other than work, or other activities that you have to do, and instead use it for something you enjoy doing, it is like taking a mini-mental and emotional break. 

You really want your hobby to be something you absolutely love doing. Maybe you’re already dedicating time to such an activity. If you are, great! Keep at it and recognize how much of a difference it makes in your life. 

If you don’t yet have a hobby, start taking small steps to get there right now. Book the classes, buy the coloring book, or start writing that short story. Self-care doesn’t always mean taking time to have a facial or put your feet up; sometimes it means doing the things that tickle your brain and your soul simultaneously. 

Daily Habit #6: Practice Mindfulness 

If you haven’t yet come across the term mindfulness as relates to mental well-being, then you may have been living under a rock! 

Mindfulness is a technique that helps you focus on what you are thinking and how you are feeling in the moment. It also helps you pay attention to your emotional reactions and the physical sensations you are experiencing. 

There is a huge amount of evidence that points to the efficacy of mindfulness in helping us to let go of negative events from the past and anxiety about future events so we can give our energy to what is happening in our lives right now. 

When practicing mindfulness, work on paying attention to the sounds, smells, and physical sensations of your day. Try to notice how different things make you feel and how your mind and body react to them. 

Mindfulness is not about denying emotions or running away from them; you really just want to recognize them, understand why they are there, and then allow them and yourself to move on. It does take time to get into a space of automated mindfulness. It’s something you will need to work on every day until it becomes an integral part of the way you live. 

Daily Habit #7: Talk About It

Sometimes the best thing for your mental wellness is just to get it all out. If you’re really lucky, you might have a friend, partner, or family member who is great at listening. 

Do be careful about who you share with, though, as it is only really helpful if that person has a positive outlook on life. If you choose to open up to someone that generally views the world in a negative way, you’re going to inevitably leave the conversation feeling worse about your situation.

The person you choose to share with does not have to agree with everything you say. In fact, it is better if they have the ability to gently and kindly move you back to reality. We so often get wrapped up in our situations and make them worse than they really are, so it can be helpful to talk to someone who is able to provide a different perspective. 

If you don’t personally know anyone that fits this bill, you should definitely consider a trained therapist or counsellor. This is often the best option in fact, because they are approaching your situation, emotions, and challenges from a completely neutral and professional perspective. They will also be able to provide you with coping mechanisms to deal with your issues. 

The Nature of Habits

Habits are seriously powerful in our lives. They can often make or break success, so it’s really important to understand how they form and how you can make good ones and break bad ones. If you haven’t read the book, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I highly recommend you grab it.

Almost every habit you have starts with a “habit loop,” which is a psychological pattern made up of three parts:

  • The cue
  • The routine
  • The reward

The Cue 

The cue in the habit loop is the trigger that tells your brain to automatically go into the mode that allows a behavior to unfold. This cue is going to be different for every habit and it’s only through self-reflection and being aware of what is happening in the moment (mindfulness, anyone?) that you will be able to ascertain your cue. 

The Routine

The routine is that actual behavior itself, whether seemingly negative or positive. That’s the action we think about when we refer to a particular habit. 

The Reward 

This is the whole reason the habit has become ingrained in our lifestyles. Nothing becomes a habit if there isn’t a reward, but this can be really complex. 

We see rewards as something positive, but because our human psychology is often so complicated, a negative reward may actually be seen as positive. If you’re in the habit of procrastinating, for instance, it may be difficult to figure out what the reward is in this situation.

After all, the only thing that comes from procrastination is often anxiety. Human psychology is complex, and the very anxiety you fear may actually be your reward. Deep down, you think you operate best in an anxious state. The truth, of course, is quite the opposite, and you’ll need to accept this so you can build a new habit loop that focuses on not procrastinating but feeling in control of your life (the reward). 

Building New Habits

Understanding the habit loop is integral to breaking down bad habits, but it is also integral to building new ones. If you plan to work on implementing the seven habits I’ve discussed in this article, I highly recommend you break them down and deeply understand what your cue, routine, and reward would look like for each one.

Here’s an example for Daily Habit #1:

  • Cue: The time you set for bedtime. 
  • Routine: Get into bed without any distractions around you and do your best to fall asleep. If you cannot fall asleep immediately, tire your brain out with an activity like reading a book, meditating, or breathing exercises. 
  • Reward: Waking up feeling rested and having energy for the day ahead. 

Do that for each of these habits and then be sure to look out for your cues, practice the behavior, and enjoy the reward. That’s how new habits are built. 

It’s A Wrap 

Believe it or not, happiness and overall mental well-being does take some work. The irony of being chronically unhappy is that sometimes it’s easier to slip into that state than it is to take action and make your life better. 

The choice is yours. While the seven habits I have recommended here are not easy to implement, they are entirely possible, and they are also really vital to living a healthy and happy life. 

Each of these habits, as simple as they may seem on their own, have knock-on effects in our lives, and you will be amazed at what a difference each makes. 

It is sometimes difficult to admit that negative habits of our own making are the root cause of so much unhappiness in our lives, but if you are brave enough to accept that, you are well on your way to a happier life. 

Check out this video, I love it!