12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year

Our mental health struggles evolve with the seasons.

Throughout the year, our mental health will go through a series of highs and lows.  Whether you’ve been struggling with seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety or another mental illness, you may find that it’s worse at different times throughout the year.  In order to improve your mental health, you must consider all the different factors that each season brings.

Here are some ways that you can improve your mental health this year, broken down by months.
12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.

January

The first step to improve your mental health throughout the entire year is to start with a plan.  You only have to plan out as much or as little of your year as you’re comfortable with.  The simplest way to do this is with a calendar of the full year.  You can choose a large desk calendar, a smaller personal calendar, an agenda or a bullet journal.

Start by filling in all your important dates.  Write down everyone’s birthdays, anniversaries, work schedules and appointments.  If you have a vacation coming up this summer, write it on the calendar in great big bold letters!  Don’t forget to schedule in your self-care time!

Then, make a list of goals you hope to achieve and put the dates you want to reach them on your calendar.  Think outside the box when it comes to your goals, don’t be afraid to celebrate the small wins.   For example, if insomnia is a problem for you, then set a goal to get one straight week of decent sleep.  Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it every single day, and don’t forget to update it each month with new tasks and goals.

Having a plan in place, with attainable goals, will help you feel more organized and confident and ultimately improve your mental health.

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February

Finally, the last of the winter months!  Take some time this month to embrace the cold weather before it’s gone and enjoy all things warm and cozy.  The Scandinavians refer to this practice as “hygge(pronounced hoo-gah).

The cold and darkness of the winter months can have a strong effect on our mental health, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  But knowing that spring is right around the corner can bring a glimmer of hope and actually improve our mental health.

So celebrate the end of winter by getting in one last fire in the fireplace, drink all the hot cocoa and stay in bed as long as you want.

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March

It’s time for some spring cleaning! But I’m not talking about dishes and laundry and other everyday tasks.  One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to get rid of all the junk piling up in your living space.  Decluttering your environment is a great way to declutter your mind as well.

Take a few tips from Marie Kondo and organize your spaces.  Clean out your closets, drawers and cupboards.  Get rid of anything that doesn’t have a purpose or bring you joy.  Sort through your paperwork and try to go digital wherever possible.

You don’t need to go full minimalist, but having clean, organized spaces can do wonders for your overall mental health.

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April

With the arrival of spring, it’s the perfect time to try out your green thumb.  Gardening is a form of eco-therapy that can help to improve your mental health.  Escaping to your garden can be a form of self care, and there are many indoor plants that offer great health benefits.

Gardening is also an activity you can opt to do with the kids.  Not only do they love playing in the dirt, but they can learn so much about the environment and where food comes from.  If you have picky eaters, they’ll be more likely to eat vegetables that they’ve watched grow in their garden.

Plant some seeds this month and you’ll have something to occupy your mind all summer.  Watching your seedlings grow will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment that will boost your mood and self confidence.

May

Warm weather is just around the corner, so it’s time to pamper that dry winter skin.  Our skin and sense of touch has a big impact on our mental health.  That’s why we can feel so overwhelmed and frazzled when we’ve been over-touched all day by our kids.

For months, our skin has been exposed to harsh temperatures, covered up and neglected.  It’s time to book a spa day or massage and facial or even just plan some DIY pampering at home.  Try out a new summer hairstyle, get a pedicure before breaking out the flip flops and switch to a lighter makeup routine for summer.

Focusing on your outward appearance can boost your confidence and improve your mental health.

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June

Finally, the world is bright and green again.  Spend as much time outdoors as possible this month.  Your body has been deprived of Vitamin D, sunshine and fresh air for months, so get as much of it in as possible.

Go for a walk, run, hike or bike ride.  Outdoor activities often feel less like exercise than going to the gym, and exercise is so important for maintaining your mental health.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to get your bikini body ready, either.  Hang up a hammock, dust off your patio chairs or lie right on the grass and relax, completely guilt free. Even having your lunch or morning coffee outside will do wonders to improve your mental health.

You made it through the winter so sit back and enjoy the warmth and sunshine while you can.

July

Do you remember summer vacation as a kid?  If you have fond memories of summer camp, beach days, camping trips or playing from sun up to sun down, then embrace that and be a kid again this month.

Plan some camping trips or beach days.  Swim as often as you can, no matter what you look like in your bathing suit.  Head to the splash parks and let loose.  Take up a new sport that you’ve always to try.  Channel your inner child and just have some good old-fashioned summer fun.  Don’t forget to take a ton of pictures and maybe even put it together in an album to look at each year.

When you’re battling a mental illness, it’s probably been a long time since you had any real fun.  Remembering a happy time from your childhood can help to improve your mental health in the simplest way.

August

This month, it’s time to focus on something that’s so important for our mental health, but often neglected.  Our support system A.K.A. our friends.  It’s not unusual to withdraw from society while battling a mental illness but what we don’t realize at the time is how important it is to have a strong support system around us.  So focus on those friends this month.

Host a backyard BBQ or plan a group camping trip.  Only invite the people you want to spend time with and don’t feel obligated to invite anyone who brings negativity into your life.  If you’re not ready to be that social yet, then aim for a night out with a couple friends that you’ve been meaning to connect with.

Get out of your comfort zone a little bit this month, dust off your social skills and strengthen your social circle.

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September

Back to school season means that everyone is learning something new, so why shouldn’t you?  September is a great month to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill.

Think of something that you’ve always wanted to do.  You could start making sushi, learn calligraphy or take a photography class.  The possibilities are truly endless.  Check Pinterest, a local hobby store or your bucket list for more inspiration.

Distracting the mind with learning something new can improve your mental health by working your brain in a different way.   Doing something artistic, such as painting, is a great way of expressing any bottled up emotions you may be harboring.  And choosing something physical, like a new sport, can help to burn off any pent up energy.

Our minds love a challenge, so put your brain to work this month.

October

Just like that, the warmer weather is coming to an end.  This can bring a sense of doom and gloom, even if you don’t suffer from seasonal affective disorder.  The thought of winter coming back again, plus the added stress of the holidays can have a severe effect on anyone’s mental health.

Be proactive this month in order to improve your mental health.  Sign up for some online therapy sessions that you can do at your own pace in preparation for the stress that lies ahead.  Stock up on aromatherapy supplies and enroll in a yoga class.

Being prepared for the most stressful season ahead can help you feel less overwhelmed.

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November

Whether you start your Christmas shopping early or leave it to the last minute, there should be someone who is at the very top of the list.  You.

This is the month to indulge.  Buy that special something you’ve always wanted but felt guilty splurging on.  Or sign up for a monthly self care box.  I mean, sure, Christmas is coming and you could always add it to your wish list – but there is something so meaningful and significant about buying something yourself.

It’s a way to remind yourself that you are in control of your own happiness.

Prioritizing yourself doesn’t make you a selfish person.  You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.  With the holiday season coming up, your focus is going to shift to your family and friends and making the holidays memorable.

So take the time now to refill your heart and mind.

December

This can be a stressful month for many different reasons:  the financial strain, the stress of Christmas shopping, the long list of events, and anyone who has lost a loved one will miss them especially around the holidays.

One of the best ways to improve your mental health this month is to scale things down.  There is a lot of pressure, especially on mothers, to make Christmas memorable.  Mostly because, when we look back at our happiest memories – they are at Christmastime and we want that for our children as well.

But it’s not about the size of the tree or the gifts.  It’s not about how many crafts or activities or advent calendars there are.  The things we remember most about the holidays is getting together with everyone.

If you want to improve your mental health, scale back the holiday decorations and festivities and focus more on enjoying time with family.


Free Mental Health Calendar

Get this FREE printable 12 Month Mental Health Calendar in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.

12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year
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12 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health This Year

16 Gifts That Will Boost Anyone’s Mood

The holidays can be exciting.  But what about when they’re not?

For many people, the holidays can be stressful and offer more to dread than look forward to.  Mothers suffering from a mood disorder can feel an added amount of pressure to make things special when they really don’t feel up to it and anxiety can worsen with all of the extra socializing.  And anyone who has lost a loved one may miss them more than usual around the holidays.

Between the cold weather, long stretches of darkness and the financial strain of the holidays, it’s no wonder that up to 20% of people report suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

If someone you love is feeling down around the holidays, then consider one of these gifts from Etsy that are sure to boost anyone’s mood.

16 Gifts that will Boost Anyone's Mood

*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.


Light Therapy

Warm, soft lighting is a great mood booster.  One thing that often makes us feel down during the winter is the lack of sunshine.  Anything that simulates natural light will help to boost our mood naturally.

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NewMoonBeginnings on Etsy

This lamp from NewMoonBeginnings is made from raw, natural Selenite, which is a crystal used for cleansing negative energy.

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SaltBay on Etsy

A lamp made from Himalayan Rock Salt is another great option.  It diffuses the light and also has cleansing abilities.  This one from SaltBay is a beautiful pyramid shape, however you can also get them in more natural designs.

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mixcrafts on Etsy

A lettered light box is a fun gift that’s right on trend.  Not only does it provide an additional light source for those dark winter days, but it comes with the ability to customize a message each day.  This one from mixcrafts comes with 85 characters and can be plugged in or battery operated.


Inspirational Messages

Quotes and sayings that inspire us have a way of boosting our mood, both directly and subconsciously.  Being surrounded by inspirational messages, whether it’s a framed print in our designated self care sanctuary, or worn on clothing and accessories, is a great way to remind someone of how strong they really are.

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RaincityPrints on Etsy

RaincityPrints does some beautiful work on famous inspirational quotes including everything from Buddha to the Gilmore Girls.  You can have it professionally printed in different sizes, or get it in a digital file and print it yourself (a great last-minute gift idea)!

JessieGirlJewelry on Etsy

These gorgeous minimal cuff bracelets from JessieGirlJewelry have a secret hidden message engraved on the inside of them.  Not only will you look stylish, but you’ll have a little mood boost with you wherever you go.

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TattooMoments on Etsy

Believe it or not, these are temporary tattoos!  This collection from TattooMoments includes 14 tattoos that can last up to 7 days.  This is a great way to show off a motivational message without the commitment of a permanent tattoo.  


Download these 4 FREE 8 x 10 Inspirational Prints in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.


The Gift of Comfort

Perhaps it’s our natural instinct to want to hibernate come cold weather, but nothing makes us feel happier than being warm and cozy.  Comfort gifts are a great mood booster, not only because they make us feel good, but also because receiving one is like getting permission to be lazy all day.

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LittleMimis on Etsy

If you’re gonna give a blanket as a gift this year, then you have to go with a weighted blanket.  There are so many benefits of a weighted blanket for someone suffering from depression, anxiety or insomnia.  Even those without a mental health condition will still benefit from the comfort of a weighted blanket.  It’s like being wrapped in a giant hug.  This one from LittleMimis comes in different weights, colors and patterns and can even be custom embroidered.  

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WineALittleGifts on Etsy

These socks are a great way of telling your loved one to put their feet up and relax.  Don’t worry if they’re not a wine drinker because WineALittleGifts sells over 100 different designs, so you’re sure to find the right pair!

LaAquarelle on Etsy

Sleep deprivation can have a negative effect on a person’s mood.  Help your loved one get better night’s sleep with this sleep mask set from LaAquarelle.  It comes in a choice of organic fabrics and includes a lavender satchet you can put under your pillow to help you sleep.


Meditation Tools

Meditation and mindfulness are great ways to improve your mood.  Even for a beginner, the practice of meditation can be easily incorporated into anyone’s self-care routine.  While actual “tools” aren’t a necessity for meditation, there are several gift ideas that can help to enhance the experience.

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SenseSationCanada on Etsy

Aromatherapy is an excellent mood booster and supplement to meditation.  There are so many options available but this necklace diffuser set from SenseSationCanada makes a perfect gift.  The necklace features the popular “Tree of Life” design and comes with interchangeable colored pads, as well as six different essential oil blends.

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mixcrafts on Etsy

Tibetan singing bowls have been used in meditation for thousands of years.  The tone they produce is designed to help relax the mind and body and drown out background noise to aid in focus and concentration.  This copper bowl from mixcrafts is not only a stunning art piece, but useful for meditation and relaxation as well.

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GlimpseGlass on Etsy

Indoor plants have so many incredible mood boosting benefits.  Being surrounded by lush greenery indoors while everything lays dead and dormant outdoors is one way to keep spirits up during the winter.  Choose a low maintenance option, such as this set of 12 air plants from AURAMORE.   Air plants are a great way to incorporate greenery without needing to worry about pots and soil.  Instead, you can put them inside one of these glass terrariums from GlimpseGlass for a beautiful combination.


Encourage Creativity

Being bored and cooped up inside the house during winter will put anyone in a bad mood.  For the holidays this year, consider giving the gift of creativity.  If your loved one already has a hobby, then you’re off to a good start.  But here are a few suggestions if they’re looking for something new to keep their mind distracted and to help lift their mood.

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KirstenBurkeDesign on Etsy

The art of calligraphy is so modern and popular right now.  It’s also an art form that isn’t time-consuming, tedious or strenuous and offers a lot of different applications.  With this beginner’s set from KirstenBurkeDesign, anyone can learn this fantastic skill, all while keeping busy to beat the winter blues.

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Legacy4LifePlanners on Etsy

Coloring offers a simple way to turn off the brain and soothe the mind.  The array of colors can also work as a mood booster on the dark, grey days of December.  This coloring planner from Legacy4LifePlanners not only offers the benefits of coloring, but also provides a place to jot down notes, goals, passwords and make resolutions for the new year.

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HawthornHandmade on Etsy

There are so many different ways to encourage creativity.  Crafting of any kind can make a person feel proud and accomplished, but it’s also a way to ban boredom during the winter months.  On Etsy, you’ll be able to find so many different DIY crafting kits, such as this weaving wall hanging kit from HawthornHandmade.  Some other popular favorites include a macrame kit, a beaded embroidery kit and paint by number sets.  


Celebrations
Give the Gift of Etsy

If you didn’t see something specific on this list that appealed to you, or if you just couldn’t decide, then consider giving an Etsy gift card instead.  It can be printed or emailed to the recipient so it makes a great last-minute gift.  And with thousands upon thousands of different things to choose from, it’s a gift that will definitely put a smile on someone’s face.


I know, firsthand, how difficult winter can be – no matter how much you love the holidays.  The extreme high of celebrating with family and friends ends so abruptly, that it’s common for people to feel depressed shortly after the holidays are over.  By giving a gift specifically to help boost their mood, you’re encouraging long-term happiness.

16 Gifts that will Boost Anyone's Mood 16 Gifts that will Boost Anyone's Mood