Between school, relationships, sleep, I often let my mental health get pushed to the back burner. Maintaining a good mental health is not as time-consuming as you might think! Here are a few easy ways that you can help your mental health without significantly changing your schedule.

1. Cut the sugar

When you eat sugary foods it releases dopamine, a chemical responsible for pleasure, into the brain. Shortly after ingesting sugar you get a high as the dopamine is released. However, this is followed by a crash. This quick change in mood can be very detrimental to your mental health. Studies have shown that sugar has a negative effect on people suffering from depression or schizophrenia. Eating excessive amounts of sugar can build up a tolerance to dopamine, making it harder to feel pleasure from the things you used to enjoy. Vitamin B, which helps us maintain our good moods, is used up by sugar. So if you find yourself reaching for a piece of candy, try and resist.

2. Exercise daily

While sugar is very bad for mental health, exercise is very good. Besides the physical health benefits like lower blood pressure and improved cardiovascular health, exercise releases endorphins into the brain which help to reduce the feeling of pain. Regular exercise can also make you more energized and optimistic throughout the day. It also can help you sleep better and reduce the effects of stress. A lot of the toxic hormones released when you are stressed are cleansed out when you exercise. You don’t even have to exercise heavily, even light jogging for 30 minutes can make a positive difference.

3. Keep a journal

This is a perfect way to end your day! Journaling allows you to reflect on events of the day and anything that may still be stressing you out. You are forced to organize your thoughts which help with problem-solving and reduces stress. Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal can make you happier because it makes you focus on the positive things in your life that usually get lost in the chaos. Try and set aside 10 minutes before bed when you can write each night. Not only will your sleep be improved but so will your mood the next day!