How To Maintain Healthy Habits - And Why It Matters For Mental Health

Updated August 10, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Health is a term that has a unique meaning to everyone, but many of us have a general goal to care for our health through lifestyle changes

We all know that having healthy habits for mental health is important, but it can be hard to stick with them. It's easy to start a new habit, but much harder to keep up with it and make sure it becomes part of your daily routine. Without the right support system in place, you may slip back into old patterns. That's why it's important to have a plan in place to improve your mental health.

In this article, we will look at how we can all create and continue these habits in daily life, as well as how to support ourselves in the maintenance of these habits - and how these practices can positively impact your mental health.

Why These Habits Matter

When you pursue good habits, it can have a positive impact on all areas of your life. When we think of health or health-promoting behaviors, we often envision or think of those meant to support our physical health alone.

However, it is vital to remember that virtually all aspects of well-being are connected. From eating healthy to exercising and getting enough sleep, engaging in good habits is not only beneficial for your physical health, but it can also have a significant effect on your mental wellbeing.

For example, let's say that you have high-stress levels. You may realize how this affects you emotionally but not process it in a healthy way.  In reality, it's not something to shrug off; persistent levels of high stress can have serious consequences, including trouble sleeping, high blood pressure and an increased risk for heart disease, early mortality, trouble concentrating or focusing, depression symptoms, such as the loss of interest in activities, and irritability that may impact personal relationships. If you work to manage stress, it may help various areas of life or well-being and mitigate some of these concerns or their risk.

This is only one example of how a habit that seems only to support one piece of your holistic health may support all areas of your health. The same is true for getting enough sleep. So, what are some habits that you might implement to improve your health, and how can you include them in your life? Let's talk about it.

What Are Some Examples?

Deciding to implement good habits in your life can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. You can start by adding habits with the most impact to make a big difference. Start by thinking of small, achievable goals that you can incorporate into your life over time, instead of making large changes all at once. These habits can help you build resilience, improve mental health, and foster overall wellbeing. 

Where can you start if you want to aid your overall health? Here are some examples of good habits you may want to include in your everyday life that can support mental and physical health:

  • Strive for a healthy sleep schedule. Sleep is necessary, but many of us tend to skimp on it. This could be due to health conditions, like insomnia, or it could be due to a busy schedule. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that a healthy adult between 18 and 64 needs somewhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Why is it so vital? Getting enough sleep can positively impact your health, reducing the risk of car accidents, heart disease and boosting productivity, focus, and concentration. It can also improve your mental health, lowering anxiety and depression symptoms. Sticking to a healthy sleep schedule can give your brain the rest it needs to support mental wellness.
  • Keep up to date with medical appointments. Staying up to date with medical appointments and screenings, including cancer screenings, check-ups with your primary care physician, and dental exams, are all important. This way, if something serious is happening, you're more likely to catch it sooner rather than later, and you will be aware of any health concerns to look out for or manage.
  • Engage in physical activity. Physical activity is an example of a healthy habit that has proven benefits across many areas of health and well-being. Activities such as walking, yoga, swimming, and even daily activities that are active, such as gardening or cleaning, can all have a positive effect on your mental and physical health. Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your risk for chronic health conditions, and lead to better mental health.
  • Make positive social connections. Did you know that positive social connections, as well as general social or peer support, are shown to promote both your physical and mental health? Benefits of social connectedness may include but aren't limited to better heart health, a boost in immunity and pain tolerance, lower stress levels, and a decrease in depression symptoms. So, if you want to nurture your well-being and notice that you face challenges such as isolation or don't connect with others as much as you want, you may aim to increase social activities. Supporting your social well being can help to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even reduce the risk of additional mental health conditions.
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  • Decrease your stress levels. Alongside lack of sleep or trouble with sleep, high-stress levels are an incredibly prevalent concern among individuals in the United States. Stress, particularly when it's ongoing, can increase depression and anxiety symptoms, muscle tension and pain, trouble sleeping, fatigue, and irritability. It can also increase the risk of or worsen the symptoms of several different physical health diagnoses or concerns. If you want to decrease your stress levels, you can directly reduce sources of stress in your life, if possible. For example, you might change your schedule so that it causes less stress. Schedule moments of calm into your daily life, like a few minutes of deep breathing or a leisurely walk in the fresh air. Try to find a healthy balance between work and play as a self kindness. Since stress is sometimes unavoidable, having coping tools to manage it is also a very important part of decreasing stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, it can be beneficial to talk with a therapist or counselor who can help you learn stress management techniques. 
  • Meet your nutritional needs. Although nutritional needs can vary extensively, they must be met. Nutrient deficiencies are common, and they can have serious impacts on your mental and physical health. Some frequently seen nutrient deficiencies in the United States include but aren't limited to iron deficiency and vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, stable blood sugar, often achieved by eating regularly and consuming balanced meals, can aid both physical and mental health. Incorporating more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables into your diet can help you meet these nutritional needs. You can spend time planning your meals to ensure that you eat healthy each day. If these things are a source of stress for you, reducing the stress around food and body image can also have positive health effects. It may enhance your social life and your emotional, psychological, and physical health.
  • Get in touch with your feelings. Suppressing your emotions can be detrimental to your well-being over time, so learning to navigate feelings as they arise serves as a life-long skill that may have a positive impact on your health. Getting in touch with your feelings can mitigate potential negative outcomes like increased stress, depression, or self harm.
  • Laugh more often. Laughter is shown to have several positive health effects. These include but aren't limited to lower stress levels (as characterized by physical and psychological or emotional stress markers), supporting heart health, and improving your mood.
  • Attend mental health therapy. Mental health therapy can enhance your life and well-being by assisting you in emotional expression, getting enough sleep, relationship improvement, stress management, and in some cases, even helping with treating physical health concerns.

Good habits aren't one size fits all. Some people, such as those with chronic illnesses, will have different health needs and statuses than others. This should be considered, and it may change what a health-promoting lifestyle looks like for you as opposed to what it looks like for someone who does not live with a chronic physical or mental health condition.

How To Maintain Healthy Habits

Now that you know what habits you might decide to use to promote your overall health, how can you maintain them? There are several different ways to help yourself maintain these habits. Here are some of them:

  • Build a routine that includes the habits you want to see. Creating a routine can support the implementation of these habits because it allows you to plan them into your day directly. For example, you might build a bedtime routine that supports your sleep patterns and set aside time for that routine, or you might set aside a certain block to take a walk in the morning. Scheduling your time can instill a sense of control over your habits and make it easier to stick to them.
  • Identify what leads to setbacks, if applicable. If you notice that you face challenges when attempting to implement a certain habit or behavior, identify what might be causing or contributing to this. For example, maybe you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, but it isn't easy to do so because you're busy and they aren't readily available throughout the day. Once you acknowledge that this is difficult because you are busy and don't have these foods available, you can work to mitigate it by making them more available to yourself throughout the day. For example, you might make a quick morning smoothie or prepare dishes with fruits and vegetables in advance so that you can take them to work for meals or snacks.
  • Be compassionate toward yourself. Remind yourself that small steps or changes count, and remember that any habits you add or change should be things that benefit you as a unique person. Habit change can take time, and self-compassion in and of itself can be a healthy behavior. A positive mindset can be a powerful tool in the process of change. Whether your progress is big or small, practice gratitude for what you have accomplished.
  • Ask for help. We talked a little bit about how therapy can support your health, but what we didn't cover yet is the role that it can play in habit change. Perhaps, there is a healthy habit that you want to implement regularly, but you noticed that there are roadblocks to doing so. For example, some people may want self-sabotage, or you might find that something else gets in your way. Is this true for you? It may be beneficial to seek the support of a professional, such as a therapist or counselor, who can help you move past obstacles and work toward your goals.


Exploring the habits that you keep in your daily life and consciously implementing those that directly improve your life is a great way to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health. There are many habits you can adopt for good mental health, from getting enough sleep to attending therapy. With support, you can find out what good habits look like for you, and what you can do to promote your own health in little ways every day.

Ready to try online therapy to improve your habits? Click here to get started, or read our website's therapist reviews and FAQs to learn more about BetterHelp.

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