Mental Health Victoria blog

Top Mental Health Habits To Try

Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague. 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague. 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
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Mental Health Habits worth trying


Everyone and their dog knows that exercise is needed for great health but what about mental though? Well, it turns out that exercise is fantastic for mental health! A sunny walk or a quick gym session can boost our mood in the short-term. Exercise stimulates our body to produce endorphins (the natural feel-good hormones). Having a plan and focusing on exercise can give us a break from current concerns from rumination (the continual focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress). There is research that not only is it necessary for maintaining good mental health, but it can be used to treat chronic mental illness and maintain mental health as we age.

In some circumstances, exercise is as effective as pharmaceuticals. 

In other circumstances, exercise and diet changes PLUS medications improved the medications taken.

How much exercise though? You will want to read our article “ How much exercise do we need to boost our mental health” 


We find journalling a huge boost for our mental health and it’s helped us overcome a few of our troubles and down times. Journaling isn’t the easiest to start if you’ve never been a writer. It can feel uncomfortable, weird, and scary. It’s one of the best things you can do for your mental health (in our opinion). The two styles that we do and suggest to our clients is writing down anything in your head and then gratitude journaling. Did Billy kick you in the shin when you were 6? Did Carol reject your date invitation? Write it down. It doesn’t matter what you have in your head, write it down. It will be come easier to think of things. 

“If it’s in your head, your dead” – Tony Robbins

Get it out.

Journalling is beneficial for

Released suppressed/blocked emotions

Promote mindfulness

Improved communication skills

Creates focus and clarity

Boost/maintain memory 

Boost mood

Benefits for anxiety

Calming and clearing the mind

Release built up feelings and stress from life

Releasing negative thoughts


Gratitude literally changes your brain. 

Something as simple as writing down three things that you’re grateful for everyday for 21 days in a row can significantly increase your level of optimism plus it holds for the next 6 months!

You don’t need to go crazy with what you’re grateful for, a simple “ I’m grateful for the crisp morning air”. You can go more in-depth once you feel more comfortable. 

Benefits of gratitude:

Released from the shackles of negative emotions

We’ve been ingrained that we shouldn’t have negative emotions or that they’re bad and we should keep them down. That’s not true. We need a better way to process negative emotions because life isn’t always “sunshine and lollipops”. Life comes up and you will eventually face a tough breakup, financial stress, or negative people.

You don’t need to share it to have benefits. Writing letters or journalling will have benefits for yourself if you’re not comfortable telling someone that you’re grateful for them. You may just brighten someones day if you tell them though.

It takes time though, you will feel a quick short-term mood boost but the long-term effects take well… longer( Thanks tips). Try it consistently everyday for 5 minutes or 3 things a day. You can do it for a while, stop, and then re-start if something happens.


Catching some Z’s, snoozing, getting some shut-eye, whatever you want to call it… it’s important!

A good night’s sleep can make a huge difference to your psychological health. Getting a better sleep and making sleep is an important first step in tackling many psychological and emotional troubles.

Let’s break down one reason why sleep is incredibly important. 

There are two regions of the brain which are important for emotion regulation, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Sleep deprivation leads to a reduction in the pre-frontal cortex and affects how the pre-frontal and the amygdala communication with each other. Being fatigue, people struggle to regulate their emotions and more negative feelings often come up as a result from it. It creates a vicious cycle. Besides the negative emotions, sleep deprivation can lead to changes in mood and the reactivity of it. This is why you typically see insomnia correlated with mood swings, grumpiness, and erratic behaviour.  

Focusing on sleep can help with mood regulation but if you focus on sleep and still can’t master it, you may want to look at your gut. 

90% of serotonin (happy hormone) is made in your gut. 

There’s 400x more melatonin produced in your gut than your pineal gland.

Serotonin helps build melatonin.


Meditation can change your brain and the way your body responds to stress. This works wonders for depression, anxiety, and even PTSD. 

Meditation isn’t thinking about nothing, if that happens you’re either enlightened (congratulations) or you’re dead (i’m sorry)

Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it’s not directed toward getting us to be different than who we are. It helps us become aware of what is already true, moment by moment. It’s more about teaching you to be unconditionally present; it helps us be present with whatever is happening, no matter what it is. 

If you want a little help getting started, I’d suggest starting with “headspace”. It’s a guided meditation app. You can also try meditation in the traditional ways, meditative yoga class, time in the garden, or our favourite… time in nature. 

For best and easiest results, meditate everyday for 5 minutes and then progress from there. 

We suggest it in the morning because sleep is a different pattern than meditation. So you will want to do it right when you wake up, you can even do it from the comfort of your bed.


Your brain functions like a BMW or Mercedes, it needs premium fuel. Eating the foods with lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the gut and the brain. Similarly to a premium vehicle, it won’t work very well on anything less than premium fuel. A few of the “less than premium” fuels are processed/refined foods and foods that you’re sensitive to (Dairy, gluten, eggs, and soy are the top hidden/common foods). 

There is a connection between food and mood. Diets that are high in refined sugars are correlated to impaired brain function and can even worsen depression symptoms. 

The diets high in the sugars also affect your insulin regulation but they also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. 

Logically thinking, it makes sense. Your body is fucking great, it can get you by on very little and crappy food. That’s what it’s designed to do, get you by. It’s not designed to do it optimally, that’s where we (you) come in. It’s our choice to live optimally. 

If you deprive your brain (and gut) of quality nutrients, or free radicals/ inflammatory cells are circulating through the brain (and body) then there are less than optimal consequences to be expected.   


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