18 Small Things That Will Make a Huge Impact on Your Mental HealthConsider this your permission to do less.
Taking care of your mental health can feel like such a task. That’s because there’s often an emphasis on the big things that contribute to mental well-being. For example, some rave about the benefits of weekly therapy appointments while others say the key to happiness is a long-as-hell meditation every morning. But focusing on just those major pie-in-the-sky self-care ideas can feel so inaccessible and overwhelming that it makes you want to opt out entirely, affirms therapist Adrine Davtyan, LCSW.
I have some good news, though: You don’t have to stock your entire mental health toolkit with big tasks to get grounded, feel less stressed, or boost your confidence. Small changes (sup, silly little mental health walks) and tiny mindset tweaks (making the bed is celebration-worthy) are just as important and can feel way more doable. Plus, as Davtyan adds, what matters most is being consistent with whatever little changes you make. And having a mix of big and small coping tools that keep you flexible when dealing with stress or dwindling therapy funds can help you stay on top of your mental health no matter what life throws at you.
If you want to add more approachable tools to your self-care kit, take some inspo from these everyday people and therapists who’ve mastered the art of doing less and maximizing their wins.
1. Cut yourself some slack.
“A small self-care tool that has been extremely beneficial to me is reminding myself I am human. When I start to notice myself feeling overwhelmed, I will literally tell myself, ‘I’m human. I’m doing the best I can.’ Incorporating compassion statements into your vocabulary helps reduce self-criticism and enhance emotional well-being. This tool has made a significant impact on my mental health as it has also helped me counter negative thoughts and promote self-acceptance.
Another small tool that’s been beneficial for me is moving my body. Sometimes I will step outside to get fresh air, and other times I may just get up and do a quick body shake to move whatever heaviness is weighing on me.” —therapist Adrine Davtyan, LCSW
2. Try a Yoga Nidra video.
"Yoga Nidra has made a significant impact on my life and for my clients. It's a non-sleep, deep relaxation guided meditation that can reset your nervous system, relax the muscles, oxygenate the body, and renew optimism in literal minutes. All you have to bring to the practice is your attention and maybe some pillows and blankets. I highly recommend it for people experiencing insomnia, anxiety, and cognitive overload. The best part is: You don't have to be experienced in meditation (or yoga) to do it. Yoga Nidra gives you something to do and concentrate on every second so that your brain can focus on relaxing." —therapist Kylani St. Clair, LMHC
3. Think about something—anything!—to look forward to.
“I make a list or take time to think about something I’m looking forward to—whether that’s something in the distant future like a vacation or something more immediate like making my favorite meal for dinner that night. If you don’t have anything in the works, then create something! If you love watching movies, find a new movie to watch that you’re excited about. I find that having something to look forward to can be really motivating, especially on days where I’m feeling burned out, and taking the time to recognize that there are plenty of small things worth being excited about is very grounding.” —therapist Marin Lebowitz, LMSW
4. Sing like no one’s listening.
“Singing and interpreting the emotions of a song is really therapeutic. It enables me to externalize my own emotions and frustrations in a creative way. It also raises my self-confidence because it's the one thing in which I don't doubt my worth. Singing for hours at a time, I notice the evolution of my feelings through the evolution of my song choices, and I notice how little I think about my worries in the moment.” —Sixtine M., 23
5. Find an enjoyable way to move your body.
“Whether it's yoga, pilates, running, SoulCycle, using my walking pad, or simply taking a few minutes to stretch or have a dance party in my room, movement drastically improves my mental health. I know that when people recommend exercise for mental health it can sound too good to be true, but it really helps me maintain a positive outlook and stay proud of myself in my everyday life, no matter how tough things are.” —Tianna S., 29
6. Remind yourself daily that “good enough” is actually great.
“These days, when my studies hit hard and my social life gets tough to maintain, I try to keep a good mindset. It often starts about 20 minutes before I go to sleep. Then, when I wake up the next morning, I tell myself that I am doing my best and that work is not the only thing I live for. It’s OK if I’m not the best at every task. I always have to remind myself that being enough is already a great step. By thinking like this, I’m able to put more effort and energy into things that matter the most.” —Elisa T., 21
7. Watch your anxious thoughts come and go.
“I started seeing a therapist regularly this year, and one of the things he told me is something I remind myself of daily: We have thousands and thousands of thoughts each day coming in second after second. So if I have negative or anxious thoughts overwhelming my brain space, I remind myself that there is already another thought coming and that this feeling is about to pass. That's been helpful for me.” —Eric K., 34
8. Touch some nature.
“I connect to my higher self by immersing myself in my ancestral land (Riviera Maya) and grounding myself in the present moment and space. I walk barefoot in the grass and sand, and I also cleanse myself in the ocean. When I feel centered in my being, it allows me to move in a more present and aware way in my practice. That ultimately helps me continue showing up for my clients in the most supportive way possible.” —therapist Aleksander Casas, LCPC
9. Change your scenery once a day.
“One of my favorite things to do for my mental health is to make sure I get outdoors and take a walk every day, if possible. As a freelance writer who works from home, it's super important for me to get a change of scenery every once in a while. I love starting my day on the right note with a quick walk through the neighborhood to grab coffee or matcha before heading back to my apartment. I've noticed that I'm way more likely to be optimistic and calm throughout the day. —Tianna S., 29
10. Do a Sunday reset.
“Each Sunday I create space to set myself up for a successful week. This could be making my lunches, creating a grocery list, choosing my outfits for the week, or writing down the tasks I want to accomplish. After that, I’m able to focus on all the things daily life and the work week throw my way.” —Tomi N., 33
11. Or a Sunday bed rot.
“I’ve started prioritizing a do-nothing day the same way I prioritize work and social commitments. We hear all the time to schedule self-care, but even that can feel stressful sometimes (cut to me anxiously trying to plan my day before and after a massage so that I ~maximize the relaxation benefits~). So, lately, I try to have one day a week (or at least half a day!) where I have absolutely nothing to do and nowhere to be. The biggest hurdle here was letting go of the inevitable guilt or FOMO or overthinking that can creep in when you have nothing on the calendar. But when that happens, I repeat to myself: Rest is productive. And then I tell Netflix that yes, I am still watching.” —Casey G., 34
12. Start rituals around self-talk…and self-pleasure.
“I love morning journaling, and I like to write down three things I’m thankful for and three qualities about myself that I love. Gratitude and positive self-talk both help me feel happy and satisfied in life. By practicing gratitude, I'm able to affirm my self-worth and also feel content with everything that’s going on in my life. Another small way I care for myself is through regular self-pleasure sessions. These sessions help me relieve stress and tension and also contribute to my sexual confidence overall.” —sex and relationship coach and California State University Fullerton professor Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, PhD
13. Make mornings a rush-free zone.
“I like to wake up an hour early and have a slow morning. Taking that extra time for myself at the start of the day really has helped me stay grounded and mindful throughout the rest of it. … This was difficult the first few days because I’m also a night owl, but I’ve been waking up earlier for almost two consecutive weeks now. At this point, I’m actually looking forward to that extra hour of self-care in the morning because it means I can take things slow and start my day intentionally rather than rushing to make it to class on time.” —Alessa D., 25
14. Celebrate yourself often.
“Whenever I catch myself being present, I try to throw a little imaginary party in my mind. I internally say things like, ‘I’m alive!’ or ‘I can feel the cool air on my cheek and the ground beneath my feet! It’s amazing!’ When I celebrate these little moments, I feel more rooted and confident.” —Monique H., 33
15. Keep your promises to yourself.
“I see the little chores I do every day as tiny promises to myself. I wash up, make my bed, feed my pets, and do more daily tasks, but I make sure to write them on my to-do list and check them off. Just because I do them daily doesn’t mean they should be celebrated as small victories.” —Nichole P., 37
16. Go on mental field trips.
“When I'm having a stressful writing day, I'll escape to a gallery or auction house and lose myself in a painting or two, even if it might just be 10 minutes. I pick one or two works to deeply focus on. As I take in the textures, colors, and shapes, I let my mind wander about the meaning behind the painting and the artist’s intentions. Everything else from my day falls away. I leave renewed.” —Danielle W.
17. Find micro moments of relaxation.
“Working from home and being a first-time mom definitely keeps my stress and anxiety meter high. I try to find small breaks to do little things like watch one episode of my favorite Netflix show, get on the phone with a friend, or snuggle with my daughter. Even going to the mall or grocery store can be therapeutic. And not sure if it's my age or just being a mom, but folding laundry and watching television with a glass of wine on the nightstand is also very relaxing! —Alexia M., 33
18. Do something with a beginning, middle, and end.
“When my anxiety is flaring up or when I’m facing a lot of uncertainty, focusing on what I can control is really useful. (Of course, I steer clear of unhelpful behaviors, like food restriction.) If there isn’t something tangible, then I create it! Anything counts: reorganizing my closet, cleaning my kitchen, or doing any sort of DIY project. These are small, healthy tasks that can be integrated into daily routines and bring me some sense of control, which is really helpful when things are feeling out of control or overwhelming.” —therapist Marin Lebowitz, LMSW
Quotes have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.