Be Happy In Your Own Head: Maintaining Mental Health

Key Points

  • Mental health consists of your social and emotional well-being and affects all aspects of your life and thoughts.

  • Manage what's going on between your ears to live your best life through exercise, mindfulness, journaling, and healthy communication.

  • Even if you struggle with your mental health, it is possible to have a happy and healthy romantic relationship.

  • Communicate with your partner about your needs and prioritize taking care of yourself.

  • Seek professional help if you struggle with your mental well-being, think you have a mental disorder, or just want to check in on your mental status.

Caring for your mental health is a vital part of living a happy life. The state of your mental health often dictates your daily thoughts and feelings. Frequently experiencing rainbows and sunshine is possible with the right mental care!

With poor mental health, relationships, emotions, career, physical health, and sense of self suffer. Discover the best methods to maintain your mental health and enjoy life to the fullest.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health encompasses your emotional, social, and psychological well-being. Your mental health has a huge impact on how you think, feel, act, handle stress, and relate to other people, and even on your physical health. These factors, in turn, influence the quality of your mental health, creating a cycle.

Other things such as genes, brain chemistry, trauma, abuse, relationships, parental upbringing, and lifestyle cause and contribute to long-term mental health problems.

Do not confuse poor mental health with mental illness. Someone experiencing poor mental health doesn’t necessarily equate to a mental illness. Everyone experiences poor mental health at some point in their life.

Why Is Mental Health Important?

When you have good mental health, you live your life to its fullest potential. Mental and physical health are both vital to overall health and greatly affect one another. Maintaining positive physical and mental health enables you to not just live your life, but enjoy it!

Your mental state determines how you cope with the stresses of life. It also influences how well you work and learn. Your mental state impacts behaviors, moods, and self-image as well. Poor mental health negatively affects all these qualities and prevents you from being your best self. 

Caring for your mental health fosters a safe internal space, improves your mood, and enhances your self-image. Feeling better about yourself improves your relationships with other people.

Normalize Mental Health

There has always been a stigma around discussions of mental health. The medical community and society at large are chipping away at this stigma every day, but shame and embarrassment still exist for many people when it comes to discussing their poor mental health. Shame keeps them from opening up to loved ones or seeking professional help.

Society is quick to judge those who struggle with their mental health. Men are especially suppressed by societal stigma. Society tells men to "man up" and not show a tender or emotional side. This only makes it more challenging for them to lean on their support systems and heal.

Normalizing this conversation not only brings awareness to the issue, but it benefits anyone struggling with their mental health. More awareness means people are more attuned to signs of poor mental health and understand how to manage it positively. When people feel more willing to open up about their struggles, it releases everyone from the expectation to always be in good mental health.

The way society sees mental health issues is being redefined for the better. It's becoming clear that solutions only come when people feel comfortable enough to open up. Sharing your struggles allows loved ones to provide support and encourages others to share their own experience.

How To Maintain Positive Mental Health

Mental health maintenance is important for everyone regardless of status and habits. There are many methods to foster positive mental health, so try out a few and see which works best for you.


Exercising provides countless benefits for your physical and mental health. It improves mental health by reducing anxiety, stress, depression, negative moods, and negative emotions. Regular exercise also improves sleep and alertness and increases libido.

Even though exercise keeps your waist trim and maintains endurance, most people that exercise regularly do so to maintain their sense of well-being and a positive view of life. You don’t need to be an athlete or commit an overwhelming amount of time to exercise to reap the benefits. Ideally, dedicate 30 minutes to moderate exercise five times a week to feel the positive effects on your physical and mental health.

Some exercise is better than no exercise. If you feel that you don’t have the time or that starting a workout routine is overwhelming, start with just five to ten minutes of exercise. Walking, yoga, and Pilates are great low-impact options for those just starting out. 

Join a workout class to stay motivated. It’s tempting to quit halfway through a Youtube workout or drop your gym session when your BFF calls, but this doesn't happen in an in-person class. Having a scheduled class to go to every week holds you accountable to a routine. Plus, you make new friends in class!

Many forms of exercise also double as meditation. Yoga incorporates mindfulness as well as meditation and breathing exercises. Time spent lifting weights puts gym-goers in a focused frame of mind similar to meditating. Mindfulness is a powerful tool for mental health, making exercise a two-for-one.

Find the exercise routine that best suits you to start working on your physical and mental health!


When you practice mindfulness, you carefully track your thoughts, emotions, actions, physical sensations of your body, and awareness of your environment. Not only are you aware of these things, but you view them positively and calmly. 

Practicing mindfulness promotes good mental health and improves anxiety and depression. It also reduces stress and insomnia.

Mindfulness trains your mind to be more present. When you are more attuned to the present moment, it is easier to focus and your emotions come into balance. There are many ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life.

Narrate your actions as you do them. For example, when you cook, tell a story in your mind about each action. “I'm carefully chopping the garlic. Now I'm adding the garlic to the hot oil in the frying pan. It's time to wash the vegetables.” This mindfulness exercise allows you to focus on the present moment and fully enjoy whatever activity you are doing.

Another method to practice mindfulness is tapping into all five of your senses. Ask yourself: How does the chair feel on my back? How does the floor feel on my feet? What does my room smell like? What background noises do I hear? How does this coffee taste? What colors do I see in my surroundings? Focus on each of your senses and appreciate the ability to be present through your body’s five senses.

Meditation is an age-old practice of mindfulness. Sit silently with yourself and dismiss any thoughts like they are cars passing by. It is difficult at first to fully clear your head, but it becomes easier with practice. Find a guided meditation practice on Youtube or Spotify. A body scan is a style of meditation that guides you to focus on each part of your body one by one, analyze how it feels, and relax it completely. Body scans are a popular and simple form of meditation perfect for beginners and pros alike.

Learning to be present and control your thoughts slows your mind down and releases negative emotions. Focus on your present moment and recognize that bad thoughts are just passing. These are invaluable ways to maintain a positive atmosphere in your head.


Journaling is an effective way to let out all of your thoughts and feelings in a healthy, secretive way. Writing about your emotions and life’s hardships organizes all of your thoughts, prioritizes your fears, and lets off steam.

Journaling enables you to better manage stress and provides clarity for life situations. Writing to yourself is a therapeutic way to reflect and grow as a person. 

Prioritize positive self-talk in your journal. This is your safe space to talk to yourself about anything, so take the opportunity to be kind and caring. Write whatever thoughts and feelings you need to get off your chest. Talk yourself through the issue the same way you would a friend. This does much to relieve the negative emotions you are dealing with.

When you consistently write in a journal, you create a record of your habits, patterns, and growth. Look back to old journal entries and feel reassured that you have overcome every issue that once polluted your mind. Old journal entries also provide an opportunity for you to reflect on a past issue with a new perspective, allowing you to recognize your faults. When seeing an issue with a fresh mind, you see the other person’s side and learn from your mistakes.

There are no rules for what to write in your journal — it's for your eyes only. What has been on your mind? What are your plans for the day? What compliment from a stranger made you smile all afternoon? What hurtful things did your partner say to you in an argument? What hurtful things did you say to them? What are you grateful for?

Writing about a negative experience releases pent-up emotions without showing your anger to another person. Writing about something positive fosters good feelings and boosts your mood.

Use journal prompts to get your thoughts flowing. Not only do prompts give you a topic to write about, but they also provide a way to dive deeper into your thoughts and get to know yourself better.

Journaling is a healthy tool to manage your emotions and improve your mental health. When you get to the last page, it’s fun to look back on the book you wrote about your life!

Healthy Communication

Communication is a vital part of daily life, yet it is one of the biggest causes of turmoil in relationships. Learning to communicate properly and effectively is a skill that improves your relationships, business, and mental health.

Communication techniques are especially important when facing rough patches in a relationship, whether it is a romantic partner, friend, or family member. When someone you love hurts your feelings or does something you feel is wrong, it's best to talk to them about it in a productive way.

Before approaching your loved one, consider what you want to gain from the conversation. Be aware of what they want too, and ask if you are unsure.

Focus on “I feel” and “I want” statements. Deliver your message much more softly by sharing precisely how you feel and what you desire rather than pointing a finger at someone. Recognize that your feelings are valid, but the other person did not actively want to make you feel this way.

Be careful of your body language, too. Do not roll your eyes, make dramatic facial expressions, or check your phone while they speak. Maintain eye contact, remain calm, and do not convey negativity through non-verbal cues.

When the other person talks, fully listen. Don’t just allow them to say what they need while you think about what to say next. Allow them uninterrupted time to get their point across, and even take a moment after to reflect on their words and decide how to respond. Let them know your silence does not mean you're ignoring them — you're simply thinking their words through.

If you struggle with communication or find a hard time expressing your needs, consider going to therapy. Therapy teaches you how to effectively communicate and recognize your needs, which improves your relationships.

Mental Health in Dating

People who struggle with their mental health often fear that it is not possible to date someone. Even with severe mental health conditions, a healthy long-term relationship is attainable. Learn how to cope with your illness without damaging your relationships and how to care for a partner that struggles with their mental health.

Incorporate methods of maintaining mental health into your relationship to take care of yourselves and one another. Go to the gym together, practice mindfulness, do a breathwork session from YouTube, or spend time journaling. Working on yourselves together is an extraordinary way to improve your mental health and your relationship.

Dating Apps Affect Mental Health

It’s common knowledge that social media negatively impacts users' mental health. What about dating apps?

According to psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Seide, “People who use dating apps are likely to be more distressed, anxious, or depressed. In fact, dating app users face three times the amount of stress in comparison to non-users. This number increases if the dating app user is on dating apps more often (i.e., daily use) and for a longer period of time.”

Dating apps briefly fulfill the need for external validation but increase the craving for it. Swiping and automatically matching with someone is addictive as it boosts the user's self-esteem. The more you use dating apps, the more you crave this external validation and the harder your need is to fulfill.

Creating a profile on a dating app forces users to look at their photos under a microscope. You become very judgmental of yourself as you worry about what swipers think of your pics. This causes poor body image for many dating app users and promotes shallow thoughts about looks. 

Some reports claim that because people are increasingly dependent on dating apps, it is more difficult to make connections in person. People’s social abilities decline which harms mental health.

Online dating is mainstream and totally normal. Even though it has negative side effects, it is also beneficial to many. Some users feel a boost in their self-confidence, improve their people skills, and take comfort in talking to strangers. Countless couples meet their boo on a dating app!

Be aware of your purpose while using a dating app, and quit if it negatively impacts your mental health.

Are You Ready To Date?

There is no golden rule as to when it is appropriate to date in your mental health journey. Some therapists offer advice based on your specific status, but how do you know until you try?

If you use dating as a tool to avoid other aspects of your life, take a hiatus from the dating scene until you are comfortable with yourself. Do not seek a partner to fill a void in your heart or as a crutch for your mental health. However, if you are happy alone, then adding a hot (and mutually mentally healthy) date to the mix is awesome.

It is currently trendy to “work on yourself” instead of dating. Why not work on yourself while dating? You are not broken because you struggle with your mental health. It’s perfectly okay to date someone while also doing a self-improvement project. 

Relationship Dynamics Affect Mental Health

A strong, healthy relationship provides support when you or your partner struggle with mental health. Learn how to take care of one another in times of need and make the tough times easier.

An unhealthy relationship contributes negatively to mental health, especially if you already struggle with your mental health. Particularly for individuals that have depression, symptoms worsen when there is turmoil in a relationship. If your relationship negatively impacts your mental health, consider ending your relationship and seeing a therapist.

Communicate Your Status in Relationships

It is common to hesitate in telling your partner about poor mental health. Stigmas surrounding mental health cause many people to fear judgment. Hyper-independence also holds you back from asking others for help and makes you feel like a burden.

When committing to someone or spending a long period together, it is important to share your mental health history. Bring up the conversation at a time you feel well rather than waiting until you are amidst a crisis. To avoid misunderstandings and assumptions, be straightforward and provide your partner with details when you disclose your experience with mental health. Properly educate them and be honest about your status so they truly understand what you are dealing with.

Don’t put all your cards on the table at the beginning of the relationship. Struggles with depression isn't exactly a first-date topic. However, as you grow closer and more committed to one another, find the right time to bring it up. Consider when you would want to know about the mental health of your partner. This is probably the time when they would want to know about yours.

To bring up the topic, ease them into it and be clear that you want to share a personal struggle. Start by saying something like, “I want to share something about myself that is difficult for me. I hope you can listen and understand.” Most people are not sure how to react to such news, so come prepared with answers to questions and a lot of patience.

When sharing your mental health history, touch on the positive aspects too. What helps you? What treatments work for you? What have you learned about yourself through the process? Give your partner resources you trust such as a website or pamphlet for them to educate themselves on your condition.

Be upfront about what you need your partner to do or not do. Don't dump a to-do list on them as soon as you share your mental health journey. Lay out exactly what you need in terms of space, comfort, communication, time, sex, and boundaries. 

Caring for a Struggling Partner

Dating someone with poor mental health or a mental health condition is difficult and exhausting at times. Showing your love by taking care of them is a beautiful thing and a true testament to how much you love them.

Don’t try fixing your partner. They are not broken due to poor mental health, and there is no magic cure. They need to navigate their issues themselves and come to their own solutions. Giving unsolicited advice is damaging to the relationship.

If your partner struggles with their mental health, utilize a time when they feel good to ask them what they need during difficult times. How much space do they desire when they are struggling? How do they want to feel comfort? Do they just need a listening ear? What are their favorite snacks to stock up on? Allow them to share anything they feel is important.

When you notice your partner having a hard time, do something small for them. If you see signs of their depression cropping up, do their laundry, bring them dinner, or clean up the start of their “depression room.” Making an effort to improve their condition before they’re drowning uplifts their spirits in themselves and the relationship. 

If you need help beyond what you and your partner are able to do on your own, ask a therapist for advice. Have your partner gather a list of dos and don'ts from their therapist to navigate difficult times.

Mental Health Services

There are many types of mental health services available, but how do you know which route works best for your circumstances?

If you have an interest in talk therapy, coping with trauma, improving relationships and other general therapy, contact a licensed therapist. To find a therapist, search online to find one in your area or contact your insurance company to connect you to a local provider in your network. There are also many options for online therapy with licensed therapists.

A psychiatrist handles mental disorders, practices talk therapy, and prescribes medication when appropriate. If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders, see a psychiatrist to plan the best course of treatment for you.

If you need emergency mental health services, call 911 or go to your local emergency room. There are various crisis hotlines to text or call based on your particular situation.

There is no shame in seeking mental health services. Many mental health providers have extensive education and experience in offering guidance for any situation you face. Prioritize your mental health and seek the help you need.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of your mental health is vital to living a happy and fulfilling life. Maintain your positive attitude by adopting healthy habits such as journaling, exercise, mindfulness, and healthy communication.

With good mental health, you live to your full potential, see life through a positive lens, experience happy relationships, and overall feel your best.

Dating is extra scary when you struggle with mental health, but rest assured that the right partner is understanding of your hardships and supports you along the way. Communicate with your partner about what you need or what they need from you.

If you struggle with your mental health, seek mental health services to begin your path to healing. There is hope for everyone to live a happy life with a healthy mind!

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