With World Mental Health Day approaching on October 10th, we’re taking a moment to reflect on the small habits and rituals that help us protect our mental health and stay resilient. After all, if the past couple years have taught us anything, it’s that our mental well-being is just as important as our physical well-being — and with small steps, we can take action to live with less stress and more joy.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the different steps they take to boost their mental health and stay resilient. Which of these tips will you try?

Practice “box breathing”

“If I notice that I am feeling a little anxious or a bit stressed, I will do box breathing: four counts on the inhalation through my nose, hold for four, four counts on the exhalation through my mouth, and then again hold for four, and repeat. This breathing technique stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which entices our body’s relaxation response.”

—Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia

Set boundaries with your phone

“As the owner of an online business, I spend a lot of time on social media, which can easily become bad for my mental health when I spend too much time online. It’s easy to trigger the brain chatter creating doubts, imposter syndrome, and mindless scrolling when I get tired. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to stay resilient,  besides turning it off, is to block out my online time in my calendar and stick to it. Doing this simple step not only protects my mental health, but it’s also so empowering. I’m 100% in control, choosing how much time I spend online and protecting my mental health.”

—Heidi Medina, digital marketing strategist and business coach, Portugal

Start your day with an affirmation

“One small way I take care of my mental health is to do a morning meditation of affirmations and setting my intention for the day.  Every day I wake up at 5:00 am, and I am not a morning person, so I don’t really ever bounce out of bed. I lay cozy in bed for about ten minutes to go through my morning affirmations. I remind myself that I choose my thoughts and that I choose them from a place of love. I tell myself that love is my power.  I tell myself that I’m worthy, abundant, capable, beautiful, kind, loved, strong, and brave.  I  feel like these simple things put me at a higher vibration that lifts the energy around me and helps the people around me.”

—Sharon Nethercott, engineer, New Fairfield, CT

Take a moment for gratitude

“When I wake up, I recite 12 things I’m grateful for. It is a wonderful way to start every day.  The things can be big or small. It can be, ‘I’m grateful my son is sober for 4 years,’ or ‘I’m grateful I have a washer and dryer in the basement.’ Then, I stretch and practice meditation for a few minutes.”

—Bonnie Esposito, retired and part-time customer service, Minneapolis, MN

Give yourself a slow morning

“My absolute favorite mental health practice is to start my day as gently as possible, relaxed, allowing myself a few moments to fully wake up. I make a cup of coffee and bring it back to bed and tell myself, ‘You don’t have to do or think about anything else until you’ve had a cup of coffee.’ The coffee wakes me up physically, feels kind, and helps me feel mentally prepared to face the day. I savor those few extra minutes in bed, tasting the coffee, watching the day break, and noticing the sleepy feeling leave my body. No matter what else is going on, I allow myself this mini-vacation.”

—Marijke McCandless, writer, workshop leader, playfulness instigator, Las Vegas, NV

Take a few minutes to meditate

“Meditating regularly helps me reset in stressful moments and keeps my resiliency muscle strengthened so that I can navigate any challenges that come my way. Every day, as soon as I finish my breakfast, I sit and meditate. It helps me to start the day from a place of ease where I feel calmer and more focused.”

—Charlene Gethons, mindfulness coach and psychotherapist, Toronto, ON, Canada

Pause and listen 

“I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of six in 1960. Today I’m 68 and still living with ADHD without taking any medication. My therapist at the time taught me the power of listening — listening to myself every morning before I did anything else. I listened to what my brain and body were saying. When you listen closely before starting your day, you can understand what your brain and body are saying. Since I was eight years old, I’ve been listening each morning. I listen, understand, and then move on to my day. It’s helped me live with ADHD for over 60 plus years.”

—Mark-John Clifford, former investment banker, Fresno, CA

Take a cold shower

“At the end of my morning shower, I slowly reduce the temperature of the water and make it progressively colder and colder for the last minute. For the last ten seconds of the shower, the temperature is maximum cold. Sure, it’s not Wim Hof ice bathing, but when we’re feeling vulnerable, we need a low obstacle, an easy win. I think the ‘cold close’ to your morning shower is just the type of Microstep that is doable for anyone. The cold brings us sharply into the present moment and it’s a potent reminder that we can do hard things even when there is struggle.”

—Eimear Zone, author and coach, Santa Fe, NM

Celebrate your small wins

“I have spent the last three years caring for my elderly mother and my teenage daughter. My mother is 91, blind with dementia and my daughter is now a college sophomore who still lives at home. So, as you can imagine, my days often feel overwhelming.  One small way I take care of my mental health and stay resilient is a combination of things that allow me to start my day with a feeling of peace and a small ‘w.’ First, I drink a glass of water that I keep on my nightstand. I then take three deep breaths as I think of three things that I am grateful for. Finally, I then get up and make my bed. This usually sets a good baseline to begin my day.”

—Pepsie Michel, Ph.D., Rockville, MD

Take regular breaks to reset

“For me, taking care of my mental health is all about self-compassion and taking mental breaks. I remind myself to take my time with what I need to do, be kind to myself in the process, and take a break every twenty minutes.”

—Joshua Miller, master certified executive coaching, Austin, TX

Talk to a therapist

“One of the ways I take care of my mental health is scheduling counseling sessions to ensure that I have a sounding board anytime that I find myself spiraling back into workaholic tendencies. It helps to have an objective person who isn’t tied to the problem at hand to be able to help me unpack it.”

—Karisa Karmali, fitness trainer, Ontario, Canada

Keep a gratitude journal 

“As soon as I feel myself reaching my emotional and mental limit, everything becomes tight and tense. I can just feel the stress stiffening me from head to toe. So I take the time to remind myself that I’m blessed. I’m blessed that being stressed and overwhelmed with emotions – not threatened, not sick, not in immediate danger – is a gift, and one not afforded to so many right now in the world. It could all be so much worse. So every day, in a little journal, I express in writing the things for which I’m most grateful in that moment. Some mornings, it comes easier than others. ⁠ But I can tell you that the shift in perspective has a transformative power on stress that I can feel emotionally, mentally and physically.”

—Tricia Sciortino, CEO, Charlotte, NC

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Author(s)

  • Rebecca Muller

    Senior Editor and Community Manager

    Thrive

    Rebecca Muller Feintuch is the Senior Editor and Community Manager at Thrive. Her previous work experience includes roles in editorial and digital journalism. Rebecca is passionate about storytelling, creating meaningful connections, and prioritizing mental health and self-care. She is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Media, Culture and Communications with a minor in Creative Writing. For her undergraduate thesis, she researched the relationship between women and fitness media consumerism.