What is Mental Health? Definition & 10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Mental health definition, why it's important, and how you can best take care of yours every day

When we have conversations about mental health in our every day lives, we're often really talking about mental illness.

It's important to increase awareness about mental illnesses. By now, you've probably learned a great deal about common ones like anxiety and depression.

But if "mental health" is what we're striving for, rather than mental illness... what is it, actually?

In this article, we'll walk you through a thorough mental health definition, explain why it matters, and provide you with 10 amazing tips to improve your mental health.

Mental Health Definition - What is Mental Health?

A common misconception is that the definition of mental health is just the opposite of mental illness. In reality, mental health is about so much more than the presence or absence of mental illnesses.

According to the World Health Organization, mental health can be defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

As you can see, the definition of mental health encompasses elements of self-esteem, stress management, and personal fulfillment.

However, mental healthiness is not a matter of being perfect and happy all of the time. Instead, it's really about having good coping skills and a sense of resilience when facing hardship.

Resilience means being able to overcome obstacles that come our way and recover quickly from setbacks. Kind of like how good athletes get up after they fall, people with good mental health can bounce back from difficult experiences.

Why is Mental Health Important?

Mental health has a big impact on your mindset, your sense of self, and how you view the world. For this reason, it's something that touches all areas of your life and is a part of everything you do.

Mental health isn't just something people struggling with mental illnesses have to think about. No matter what you've been through, we can all benefit from taking time to take care of our mental health!

Good mental health can:

  • Better your relationships
  • Increase productivity
  • Positively influence your physical health
  • Help you succeed professionally
  • Have a better relationship with yourself

10 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

1. Stay Active

Regular exercise has incredible mental health benefits - it provides a distraction from stress, and releases feel-good chemicals in the brain called endorphins.

Remember you can exercise in whatever way feels good for you: whether that's going for a run, doing some yoga, or even having a dance party in your room!

2. Stay Social

A strong sense of social connection offers a support network and helps you feel happier.

Be sure to cultivate good friendships and engage with your community - whether that's locally or online!

3. Seek Fulfillment

To maintain good mental health, it's important to make time for things you feel passionately about and that give you a sense of purpose.

Make time for hobbies, volunteer, and pursue your passions!

4. Express Gratitude

Taking stock of the good things in life can promote feelings of positivity and happiness.

Try keeping a gratitude journal to remind you of what you're grateful for, no matter how small.

Learn more about the benefits of gratitude and how to keep a gratitude journal. ->

5. Know When to Ask for Help

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure to ask for support when you need it - whether that means from a trusted loved one, or a mental health professional.

Take time for self-reflection, and make note of any early signs of negative changes to your mental health.

6. Help Others

Ever heard the saying, "helping others actually helps yourself"? Turns out, it's kind of true!

Taking time to volunteer in your community, support a meaningful cause, or even help out a friend or family member can really change your perspective.

7. Sleep Well

Quality sleep is essential to our cognitive functioning, which plays a big part in regulating emotions and your overall mental health.

Learn more tips for getting better quality sleep so you can be your best self. ->

8. Manage Stress

Extreme levels of stress can throw our emotional wellbeing out of wack and cause us to neglect people and things in our life that are important to us. Managing stress effectively helps you maintain good mental health!

Learn how to manage stress like a pro with our simple stress management tips. ->

9. Engage in Self-Care

Don't be afraid to set aside time for yourself to do, well, whatever feels good to you! Self-care is a great way to boost your mental health and improve your relationship with yourself.

Try one of our self-care ideas to feel totally calm and relaxed. ->

10. Try Daily Journaling

Writing in a daily journal has incredible mental health benefits: it helps you be more self-aware, regulate your emotions, reframe negative thoughts, and more.

Try journaling with a journaling app, like Jour. With Jour, journaling is super easy - you can write on your phone, any time, anywhere. We even give you personalized journaling prompts every day so that you never run out of ideas!

Learn more about the scientifically proven health benefits of journaling. ->

Mental Health is Your Health

Most conversations about mental health center mental illnesses. While it's important to understand mental illness, it's also important to consider what mental health means for you personally.

A mental health definition encompasses things like positive self-esteem, emotional resilience, and personal fulfillment.

Being mentally healthy isn't the same thing as having no mental illnesses or hardships - instead, it's about having strong coping skills and being able to bounce back from hard times.

To keep your mental health in tip top shape, make sure to prioritize self-care, gratitude, and other healthy habits like keeping a daily journal with Jour.

Stay well!