7 ways to improve your mental health

Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014

THE WAY TO CALM: It may seem nutty to some, but meditating can help combat depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia and more. Try it before you dismiss it.

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To kickstart you down the road to mental wellness, we've rounded up a bevy of simple things you can do to boost your brain.

Did you know that vitamin B12 can help ward off depression? Or that lavender oil is overflowing with health benefits? You do now.

Here are seven quick ways to improve your overall mental health.

1. Walk outside

Skip the gym and head for the great outdoors.

While exercising in itself is a great boost to your mental health, going for a walk or run outside has even more vital health benefits. 

Studies show you'll exert more effort, and will have increased signs of "vitality, enthusiasm, pleasure and self-esteem," as compared to staying indoors.

2. Take vitamin B12

You've always known taking vitamins is important, but do you know about the benefits of B12?

Studies have shown that a severe deficiency of B12 can lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia and more harmful problems.

Get your B12 dosage from pill supplements, or by eating foods such as eggs, poultry and dairy products like milk.

3. Write simple goals

The National Alliance on Mental Illness says setting simple, well-defined goals like, "I will smoke one less cigarette, each day, for the next three weeks," is a great way to actually accomplish something.

Set goals for yourself in relation to your mental health (such as, "I will take two minutes each day to focus on breathing"), and be as specific as possible.

Once you've accomplished that goal, reward yourself!

4. Listen to slow, calming music

Plenty of studies have shown that performing tasks while listening to classical tracks such as Pachelbel's "Canon in D Major" soothes your mind and reduces anxiety.

If you're not one for classical music, opt for other tracks that are slow and simple.

5. Use lavender oil

Put a bit of lavender oil on your pillow. Studies show that the essential oil can improve your sleep quality and help battle insomnia.

If you don't want it on your pillow, try drinking a bit of lavender tea before bed to soak up its healthful benefits.

6. Spend money on someone else

You know that victorious feeling you get when you find the perfect gift for someone? That's your happiness levels skyrocketing. 

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Studies have shown that people who buy something for someone else feel happier throughout day. And you don't have to break the bank every time - spending $5 for someone else is perfectly effective.

7. Meditate

We know this is constantly touted as the mind-clearing fix-all, but it's for good reason.

Mindful meditation can increase the brain's emotional regulator, and can help combat depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia and more.

Start slowly by meditating for three to five minutes per day in order to get comfortable with silence.

- Mashable


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