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Health Spotlight: Ways to improve mental health

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — News 8’s Lena Pringle on Thursday shared a few simple habits that can improve how a person feels, combatting the many factors that can contribute to mental health suffering.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness in a given year.

May is mental health awareness month, a good time to take a look at personal habits.

More than half of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives. But, some small steps can make a big difference.

Dr. David Baker, a psychotherapist and performance management physician, said, “We have to look deep inside, I think, and ask ourselves, ‘Honestly, what am I struggling with?’ and it’s not often the obvious thing.”

Just being aware of mental health status is an important step.

Also, practice daily deep breathing. Studies show this habit can help regulate your heart rate and nervous system.

Keep a daily gratitude journal. Simply writing down two things you are grateful for over two weeks can lessen depression and anxiety.

Baker said, “Mental health is about being able again to find a joy or a contentment in something simple.”

Also, engage in play. Research shows being playful can lower stress and improve healthy coping strategies when faced with difficult situations.

Another must: Make sure to get enough sunlight. Vitamin D helps regulate mood, metabolism, immune system and more. Experts recommend from 10 to 30 minutes of midday sunlight several times a week to maintain levels of Vitamin D.

Lastly, prioritize a sleep routine. Try to wake up at the same time each day, avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed, and be exposed to light right when waking up.

Therapy is another great way to maintain good mental health.

Finally, online, virtual therapy sessions are available through , including BetterHelp, Talkspace, and MDLIVE medical group.