Mental Habits to Improve Health and Happiness

A woman and two children are walking in the park.

By Carol Phillips

The middle of summer is a great time to enjoy some vacation days and give your brain a break! Escape the endless demands of work, school, and the many other obligations we juggle on a regular basis.

Here are some tips to not only make sure our mental health is in a good place, but to create as much joy in our lives as possible:

Create a stress-free morning routine.

Instead of waking up to a blaring alarm and immediately worrying about everything you need to do that day, choose a ringtone that you enjoy. Also, think of something positive you’re looking forward to during the day or take a moment to be grateful for the blessings in your life. Give yourself enough time to get ready, so you’re not always fighting the clock, which only creates stress.

Be cognizant of everything that is going well.

Be cognizant of everything that is going well during the day, but be realistic and prepared for when something goes wrong or when an unexpected challenge presents itself. The world doesn’t revolve around us, so we often need to be flexible. Accepting these situations and handling them the best we can, instead of allowing ourselves to get upset, makes life much easier. As the saying goes, “I can’t control many situations, but I can control how I respond to them.â€

The kids are watching!

If you have children, always be aware that they are watching and learning from you. Our actions have much more impact on them than what we verbally tell them. Modeling good mental health care, staying positive, and showing them how to handle difficult times helps to give them the tools they need to stay mentally healthy.

Learn to cope.

Adopt a new way to cope with disappointment, if this is an area you find difficult. Whether it’s a last-minute vacation flight being cancelled, or becoming ill and having to skip a party you were looking forward to attending, we inevitably have to deal with missing out on activities we were looking forward to. In those situations, I take some time to mentally process the loss, then I look for a “Plan B,†so my brain can get to a better place. For example, if I have to cancel a fun day with a friend due to not feeling well, I’ll reschedule in the near future, so the fun is simply delayed, not cancelled.

What are you stressing about?

Be aware of what causes you to feel stressed and deal with them one at a time. Find ways to reduce the negative effects they have on you, whether it’s solving a problem, distracting yourself, or meditating. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and other health problems. When we’re in a good place mentally, our physical health benefits. The mind/body connection is very strong, so use it to your advantage.

Find your “go-to” ways to reduce stress.

During stressful times, find what works best for you to reduce that stress. For example, call a friend for support, watch a funny show, listen to calming music, take a walk, or start a new hobby. The sky’s the limit!

When you learn to ride the waves of life with grace, your mental outlook will improve. You’ll also feel happier and healthier, and ready to tackle anything.

Carol Phillips is a national health and wellness expert, the award-winning author of 52 Simple Ways to Health, and the radio host of Ask Coach Carol. Her company, Health Design, helps businesses significantly reduce costs and increase productivity by prioritizing health, wellness, and safety practices. Health Design is a SHRM Recertification Provider. Based in Manchester, NH, she can be reached through her website at