What are 5 Ways to Maintain Positive Mental Health?

Everybody wants to be happy, has energy and passion for life. But how to achieve it? Earn more money, have more children, fell in love on a regular basis? No, the key to happiness is not outside but inside us – it is good Mental Health. According to the CDC “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood”. Fish begins to stink at the head – the same for a human being as all our problems start from our head. So, how to keep head in order and maintain positive mental health? leading psychologists, life coaches, and social workers kindly agreed to answer What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health? Let’s find out and try to discover our own recipe for happiness.

Kristen Carter, M.S.

Kristen Carter training and certifications include a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology.  She is a Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Titleist Golf Fitness Specialist, and Certified Health Coach.  She has been a consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, and a weight loss program active in many Pennsylvania counties.  She is a speaker, workshop leader, and has been featured on national podcasts, live radio, and YouTube interviews.  Her book, Lose Weight? Exercise More? I Don’t Think So! provides a new perspective, explaining why we can be so resistant to making health changes that we know are good for us.



What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

Clearly, there are many ways to maintain a positive attitude.  I have attempted to provide several that cast a wide net over actions we can take to stay positive as our lives unfold.

Please note that it is important to check with a physician or mental health professional if you suspect that you suffer from depression that is long-standing and pervasive.

1) Keep learning. Maintain a mindset of curiosity about things that are important to you.  Follow up on whatever interests you.  Often we can get trapped into thinking we need to stay informed about current events, history, sports or other things.  Not necessarily!  Just follow what you care about the most, and don’t worry about the rest.  Watch out for thinking that you are too old to learn anything new, or that what you want to learn about has no relevance.  Learning keeps you engaged, and in touch with your passions.

2) Let go of “shoulds.” This would include family events, perceived social obligations, or traditions that sap your energy or feel oppressive or heavy.  Here, I am not saying to disengage from family or social obligations, but rather to realize you have options.  You can do it “your way,” and slowly change traditions so that they feel more comfortable and meaningful to you.

3) Take care of your health! You are worth it!  Eating nutritious foods and getting regular exercise keep your body and brain humming along, give you a more positive outlook, and give you more energy and creativity during the day.  Taking care of your health also means getting enough sleep, and taking regular vacations, even if they are short.

4) Watch out for negative self-talk. Focus on taking actions and building relationships that will raise your self-esteem.  We, humans, are predisposed to being negative, and negative thoughts about ourselves or others can become automatic and lead to stereotyping.  Try to catch yourself in these moments, and take a minute to ask yourself, “where is the evidence?”  Replace that thought with positive thoughts about yourself or others.  For example, you may find yourself thinking, “I am awkward socially.”  Realize that many others feel the same way!  Just do your best, and you may notice that it was just fine.  You do not need to be the life of the party.

5) Keep your sense of humor. Forgive yourself when you blow it or have been wrong.  It happens to everyone!  By accepting your mistakes, you can learn from them and move on.  Find the humor in what is going on around you.  Keeping a sense of humor can keep you on top of situations rather than feeling like they are rolling over you and weighing you down.

Michael Friedman, Ph.D.


Michael Friedman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, life coach, and the co-founder of Hardcore Humanism. Hardcore Humanism is a life philosophy, therapy, and coaching program designed to help people identify their life’s purpose and work hard to achieve it.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Regular restful sleep. Being fully rested (7-9 hours of sleep per night) is one of the most important factors to helping reduce anxiety and depression, as well as optimize functioning and well-being. Ongoing sleep deprivation will leave us more agitated, less energetic, and with a reduced ability to concentrate on our life goals.

2) Regular healthy eating. Having at least three regular meals a day and up to three snacks will help keep us energized and focused. Not eating regularly or eating a large amount of unhealthy food such as refined sugar can mimic the feelings of agitation and low energy associated with anxiety and depression. In contrast, being fueled properly can give us the focus and energy we need to function in a healthy way.

3) Consistent exercise. Decades of research demonstrate the physical and mental health benefits of regular exercise. This can include lifestyle exercise (e.g. walking to work, cleaning a home) or more structured exercise (e.g. lifting weights or jogging for a set period of time). Exercise leaned us feel less anxious as well as more vital and energized.

4) Reduce or eliminate harmful substance use. Substances such as alcohol act as depressants, and leave the body feeling depleted. Substances such as marijuana can reduce motivation. While occasional or limited use may not significantly impact mental health, regular and/or heavy usage of these and other mind-altering substances can trigger panic and depression.

5) Purpose-driven behavior. Finding a mission — something that we want to accomplish that is meaningful to us — and spending time on that mission can improve our mental health and overall well-being. Maybe we want to learn to play an instrument or a new sport. Or maybe we just want to watch a TV show that we heard we’d enjoy. Whatever it is (as long as it’s meaningful to us)  — goal-directed, purposeful behavior feels good.

Katie Willard Virant, JD, MSW, LCSW


Katie Willard Virant, MSW, JD, LCSW is a psychotherapist practicing in St. Louis, Missouri. She writes a monthly column for Psychology Today on living with chronic illness.

1) Take care of your body. We don’t just live in our bodies – we ARE our bodies. In order to feel well mentally, we need to care for our physical well-being. Are you eating nourishing foods? Are you sleeping enough? Are you exercising?

2) Take care of your connections. Loneliness makes us vulnerable to depression, anxiety, and physical illness. Are there people in your life who understand you, who make you laugh with, who provide a sense of security? Nurture those bonds.

3) Explicate your values. What’s your personal mission statement? What makes your life feel meaningful? How do you want to be remembered in the world? Align your choices – big and small – with these stated values.

4) Manage stress. We can’t eliminate stress, but we can buffer it. Experiment to find stress-busters that work for you. Meditation, nature walks, art-making, gratitude practices, and funny movies are just a few tools that can help bring stress levels down.

5. Go to therapy. There’s no finish line when it comes to maintaining positive mental health. It’s a day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute process. We are learning how to live until we take our last breath, and it’s not always easy. Therapists are trained to help you learn and practice these positive mental health habits – use their expertise.

Diane Dreher, Ph.D.


Diane Dreher, Ph.D.,  is a positive psychology coach and the author of The Tao of Inner Peace.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Deal with Stress. Chronic stress undermines our emotional and physical health. The first step to cultivating more positive mental health: Recognize when you’re triggered by stress and pause for 90 seconds, then take slow deep mindful breaths to bring you back to a more centered state. This is one of the “stress skills” recommended by the national Hopeful Mindsets Project.

2) Reconnect with Nature. There’s a wealth of positive psychology research on how reconnecting with nature can relieve depression and restore our hope. Just stepping outside, taking a walk around the neighborhood or in a nearby park, cultivating a garden, placing a bird feeder outside your window, or growing herbs on a sunny window sill can make a positive difference in your life.

3) Connect with Others to maintain positive mental health. These connections include not only close relationships with friends and family but what psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has called “micro-moments of connectivity” with our neighbors, the grocery store clerk, or anyone we encounter in daily life. With a simple smile, eye contact, presence, perhaps a kind word, these connections benefit both people. They can dramatically improve our health, raise our mood, relieve and reduce inflammation to promote greater physical and emotional well-being.

4) Begin a Daily Gratitude Practice. At the end of each day, think of three things you’re grateful for and write them down. Psychologist Robert Emmons has found that this simple gratitude practice can make a major difference in our mental health and wellbeing. I’ve begun a shared gratitude practice with two of my women friends. We each take turns listing three things we’re grateful for on the email, then one of us answers with her own three things she’s grateful for. And, of course, I’m grateful for my dear friends each day when we share this practice.

5) Set a Goal You Can Believe In and Begin Moving Toward It. Goals bring greater purpose, happiness, and hope to our lives. My colleague psychologist Dave Feldman and I asked research participants to set a goal they could believe in, write down three steps to achieve that goal, an obstacle that could come up for each step, and an alternate action for each. Then we had them visualize themselves taking these steps and achieving their goal. The result—is greater hope and a more positive frame of mind as well as goal progress. For our research, see https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-011-9292-4

Phil Reed, D.Phil.

Phil Reed, D.Phil., is a professor of psychology at Swansea University. He obtained a D.Phil. from the University of York and previously held a Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford, and a Readership in Learning and Behaviour at University College London.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Do something for yourself, that you really enjoy and control yourself, each day – even if it is just a small thing.  Read a book, do some knitting, do anything that you do – but don’t rely entirely on something external, like the TV, etc., to entertain you.

2) Cut down on unnecessary digital activity.  Digital activity may feel like an escape, but it just makes whatever issues you have worse – it reflects them back to you like a dark mirror.  If you need to stay in contact with people remotely – use phone or video links, if you can.

3) Try to avoid chaos in your life – it’s never helpful or creative, at least not for long.  Focus on your goals (these can involve other people, so this is not about being selfish), prioritize those goals, and cut the rest out, as far as possible.

4) If you’re stressed, do less, if you’re anxious do more.  If things are overwhelming, then break them down, plan to do one or two a day, and you’ll feel a lot better.

5) Make yourself remember how you have made things happen – this is harder than it sounds, as we often want to give others credit, and that’s great, but make sure you give yourself credit for getting good things too.

Jessica Del Pozo, Ph.D., BCB

Dr. Jessica Del Pozo is a retreat facilitator, author, and psychologist for people seeking wholeness. Her work focuses on people navigating the challenges of high-stress careers, relationships, and health conditions. In true collaboration, you will move toward better health, finding meaning, and moving toward what you really want. Her workshops and blogs are about sleep, pain, and living in synchronicity with our biological rhythms. Her practice, Lemke Health Partners, is located in the beautiful Sierra foothills of Northern California.

Being Awake Better

Institute for Chronic Pain

I view health as existing on a continuum. Being in the position to maintain good health is a wonderful place to be. Here, you can experience life unfolding as a creative process in its full potential. Strike while the iron is cold, so to speak, with these 5 R’s for maintaining mental health.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Relationships: Speak up and voice your concerns early on before resentments and stories are built, but know it is rarely too late to do so. Since repressed or volatile emotions can fester into illness, express how you feel in a way that respects yourself and the other person. The prerequisite to this is to feel your feelings in full range; then be honest and kind about what you want. Clarify what is at the heart of the matter and listen to your loved ones with an open heart. Schedule regular check-ins with your inner circle – daily or weekly – to connect, communicate needs, and clear up any misunderstandings. This is also the perfect time to express gratitude for specific things you appreciate about each other.

2) Routine:  Invite rhythm and routine into each day starting with a regular wake-up time 7 days a week. Rather than monotony, the simple structure provides flow to your day. Use scheduled anchors like breakfast, meditation, or sitting outside to help your brain and body wake up well and anticipate what is next. Routine behaviors cue the most efficient use of your internal biological resources. When you wake, think of one thing that is working well and notice your breath. Make your bed slowly before you check your phone.

3) Run: Walk, dance, stretch, or run every single day. Savor the mechanics of your body, brain, and breath that keep you going. If sitting is the new smoking, quit for just a few minutes every hour and go for a brisk walk. A full hour of movement is just over 7% of your entire day. Whenever possible, go outside.

4) Risk: Once you have a routine, take a risk and try something new. Let your mind wander beyond the routine you have created. Finding pleasure in the small things of daily life is key; now add something unusual – a new skill, experience, or habit. Make an unrealistic goal – one you cannot obtain – to practice getting out of your own limiting thoughts. The combination of small pleasures and new experiences gives your brain the dopamine hit it needs to be happy, grow, and adapt to the ever-changing landscape.

5) Remember: Since everything changes, there will be a new challenge on the horizon. Trust that you will take it as it comes; no need to borrow worry about the future. There is no way or need to anticipate all that could go wrong. Investing in self-care today will prepare you enough for a future challenge. You have seen hard times and survived it. You have the internal resources to navigate it and ask for help. Trust life, the universe, and everything that you are not only going to be okay, you already are.

Franchell Hamilton, M.D.


Franchell Hamilton, M.D., received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and chemistry summa cum laude from the University of Houston Honors College. She further pursued her education in Lyon, France, where she completed graduate studies in biochemical engineering.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Staying connected to nature: could be a walk, a hike, listening to the sound of natural bodies of water, feeling the sun on your skin.

2) Staying connected to people who support and love you: continuing to cultivate relationships whether in person, over the phone or virtual, not being isolated, making appointments to talk or see friends and loved ones just like you would see a doctor or therapist and ensuring you keep that appointment.

3) Having a purpose or knowing your why: Why do you get up each day, what impact do you want to make, what vision do you have to improve the people and things around you.

4) Choosing to be happy: knowing obstacles will come and choosing to see the positive in everything, changing the lens of how you see the world to a lens of internal joy, ex ” I may have not completed my goal today (diet, steps, chores etc..) but I now gained an insight that will help me do better next time”.

5) Setting your intention and gratitude and putting it out into the world daily: this can be done through sticky notes on a mirror or fridge, a note on your phone, speaking it aloud in the mirror, or telling someone who is supportive of you.

John-Manuel Andriote

John-Manuel Andriote is an award-winning author, journalist, speaker, and health advocate. Since 1983 he has written about health and medicine, LGBT issues, and popular culture. His latest book is Stonewall Strong: Gay Men’s Heroic Fight for Resilience, Good Health, and a Strong Community.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Be clear about what you can and can’t control. This means realistically thinking through the specifics of the situation you’re in, and sorting out “what is mine” and “what is not mine.” What do you need to do to take responsibility for what is yours? Do you need to push back against someone’s effort to make something yours that isn’t your responsibility?

2) Be mindful. Literally, stop and smell the roses (and other flowers). Hike (or just walk) in nature. It’s an extremely effective way to “live in the moment.” It’s hard to be preoccupied with anxiety-causing problems when you are paying attention to avoid slipping on the trail or taking a tumble. Take a mental inventory of your senses. What are they telling you about your environment? Are there things you can do to make it more enjoyable and relaxing?

3) Name your emotions. Anger, disappointment, frustration, loneliness, and sadness are all-too-familiar emotions in the course of our lives. Identify your emotions and learn to differentiate among them to know what is really going on and how to deal with it.

4) Practice gratitudeFocusing on all you are grateful for is one of the quickest, and surest, ways to move your mind from worrying to a place of equanimity. This is really a remarkable weapon in your resilience arsenal of worry-busters.

5) Practice self-care. Eat nutritious food. Exercise. Get a manicure. The essence of self-care is simply being good to yourself. Of course it also means surrounding yourself with others who also are good to you, respectful, and kind.

Donna Fish



Psychology Today Blog Page

Donna Fish is a licensed clinical social worker, a reimbursable psychotherapist (LCSW-R). The specialties of her NYC private practice include eating disorders, anxiety, depression, trauma, and family and couples work. Author of Take the Fight out of Food: How to Prevent and Solve Your Child’s Eating Problems.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) When you observe feeling frustrated, angry, look at the upsetting event that created the feeling, and then ask yourself:  “Do I have an expectation that this should have gone differently?

If you can uncover hidden ‘should’ statements, you can figure out if your expectations are realistic and while it would be wonderful if things went the way, or people behaved the way you think they ‘should’, unfortunately, we don’t have control over everything!

2) Offer yourself Empathy for your emotions.  Being able to label your feelings and offer yourself Empathy first, is the first step to being able to comfort and soothe yourself, and is one of the most important building blocks to Resiliency and also preventing having to use other means to soothe yourself: i.e. drugs, alcohol, eating behaviors, etc etc.

3) Identify the positive aspects of your emotions;  All Emotions have positive aspects, and say great things about you; it’s the intensity of the Emotion that can yield the disadvantages. Try to first look at the advantages, and then also the disadvantages of the intensity.  Then you can make a decision about how much you want to hold onto that emotion, building in Fairness to yourself.

4) Also try to become mindful of how you’re thinking, your attitudes, your expectations that create the emotions.  Given that our thoughts create our feelings, we can modify or change how we think, in order to change how we feel.

5) Be open to figuring out how to ADAPT. That is the key to evolving and as things keep changing, it is vital to look at what is going on and how things are, realistically.  If you can accept this, then you can focus on the things you can control, and the things that you cannot. Focusing on the specific things you have control over which is yourself, helps to build effectiveness and also resilience.

Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP

Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP is the Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J. University Professor, professor of psychology, and by courtesy, religious studies, at Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

websites: Santa ClaraStanford

Twitter: @ThomasPlantePsych Today blogScholar Commons

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Try to get corrective feedback from people who know and love you about how you are doing and how you might do better.

2) Don’t be hesitant to talk with professional psychologists or other mental health professionals or even have your concerns addressed by other helpers in the community such as clerics and health care professionals.

3) Remind yourself that you need to take care of your whole person, body, mind, and soul, finding evidence-based best practices to do so (e.g., regular exercise, rest, being with supportive others, avoiding toxic people and behaviors)

4) Be careful for social comparisons, especially via the influence of social media. Be very judicious about social media engagement.

5) Treat yourself and others with respect and compassion reminding yourself that everyone is sacred and less than perfect. Be quick to be forgiving and humble about yourself and others.

Katherine Schreiber, MFA, LMSW

Katherine Schreiber

Katherine Schreiber, MFA, LMSW, is a social worker and freelance writer based in New York City. She is the co-author of The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Address underlying medical conditionsSometimes, an underlying medical issue—think: an under or overactive thyroid, diabetes, hormonal irregularities, or an abnormal heart rate—could be the cause of depression, anxiety, or other ostensible symptoms of mental illness. As long as these issues remain untreated, they can wreak havoc on your emotional and behavioral health. Be sure to see a doctor at least once a year for a check-up and routine blood work to catch these issues, or consult your PCP for a referral to a specialist who can better assess your specific symptoms.

2) Exercise in a way you enjoy. As if you needed to be told again to exercise! Well, physical activity needn’t be training for a marathon. Every little step, twist, jump, and stretch counts. A simple walk on a lunch break, taking the stairs if that’s accessible to you, doing some yoga before bed or upon waking, or dancing around to your favorite playlist are all forms of exercise. Forget counting calories or steps. Do what feels good to your body. The movement itself can help soothe your mind and improve symptoms of anxiety, but so too can let go of the perfectionist pressure to have the perfect workout.

3) Be grateful. You’ve heard about practicing gratitude as a way to boost mental health. There’s a science to it—and it’s way older than just this century. Giving thanks has been a component of religious practices for centuries—just take a look at all the Psalms in the Bible that give thanks to God! Or the Jesuit practice of the daily Examen, part of which prompts practitioners to reflect on two or three things they are grateful for at the end of the day, then methodically go through their day from waking to evening to see where God’s presence has been. Lately, the secular world has been catching up with this age-old wisdom to practice gratitude—and quantifying its benefits.  We know from over a decade of research that daily gratitude practices can increase our sense of wellbeing and quality of life, and improve our relationships with others. At the end of each day, write down three things that graced your day that you are grateful for—and elaborate on how you contributed to them, who was involved, and how those events made you feel. Nothing is too small—something as subtle as finding a penny on the street or receiving a text from a close friend counts.

4) Spend more time with people who nourish you. Make a list of friends and family members, coworkers, or acquaintances, whose company you enjoy—people who increase your energy levels, make you feel heard and understood, or with whom you just have fun. Make it a point to spend more time with, and prioritize, these people. Pay attention to those people who drain you—and limit your time with them, as well as the energy you give them. This may mean setting up a filter for their texts, calls, or emails. Or it may mean being firmer around when you can and cannot speak to or see them. But as hard as it may be to set limits, you risk undermining your own mental health (and reducing the energy and love you have to give to your other more nourishing relationships) if you don’t make the effort to keep a healthy distance from folks who have taken advantage of you, who constantly criticize you, who invalidate you, or who are just plain rude!

5) Prioritize getting sleep. Sleep deprivation makes us more likely to perceive threats where there are none—which can make us not only more miserable but more easily irritated and more reactive (to the detriment of our relationships). We owe it to our mental health (and the mental health of those that interact with us) to make getting the recommended 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night a priority. That may mean dipping out of social situations 30 minutes to an hour earlier than you normally do, to get to bed at a decent hour. Or it may mean curbing your caffeine intake in the afternoon and creating a reliable and relaxing wind-down routine that you engage in 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime to help you fall and stay asleep. Consider also putting a blue light filter on your phone and laptop screens to block out the bright light that can suppress the production of melatonin (a hormone that increases feelings of sleepiness) at night. If you struggle with early morning insomnia (where you wake up way before your alarm goes off) consider practicing some breathing exercises and embracing that time as a stretch of quiet reflection—rather than an opportunity to freak out about how much sleep you’re not getting. Introducing a sense of calm to your body (even if it doesn’t come naturally at first) is key to relaxing back into a physical and mental state that will allow you to drift back to sleep—and reap the mental (and physical) benefits of a solid night’s rest. Consider also discussing with your doctor whether there are supplements or prescriptions that may be helpful to you in getting better sleep.

William Lawson, M.D., Ph.D.

University of Texas

William Lawson, M.D., Ph.D. is the Medical Director and Psychiatrist for the Medication Assisted Treatment Program in the Department of Health and Human Services Specialty Behavioral Health Services in the Mongomery county Maryland, Department of Health and Human Services.

What are 5 ways to maintain positive mental health?

1) Recognize that positive mental health is not just avoiding mental illness. For people of color it’s relating to others not just to avoid stigma and racism but to seek relationships that recognize the value of our cultural heritage;

2) Positive mental health comes from seeking positivity in all spheres of life: seeking good physical health, and being in touch with the natural and social environment.

3) Recognize that everyone and especially one’s self has value.

4) Do not avoid joy. Seek it and embrace it.

5) Seek the spiritual meaning in being and in life.


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