It might be hard to think of things to do to stay positive during hard times, but we’ve compiled a small list of ways to take care of yourself and your mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month.

Create a little positivity jar or container for yourself and write on little sheets of paper what good things happened to you each day. They can be as simple as, “Made myself a good breakfast,” “The weather was nice today,” or “Took a nap.” Turning what we see as everyday and mundane into something that brings comfort and positive feelings can change how we see everyday occurrences in our life. It can show us that even the simplest of things can bring joy.

Do one kind thing for yourself each day, or do one thing that makes you happy each day, like making your favorite kind of coffee, eating your favorite snack, or watching your favorite show or movie. We deserve to give ourselves little gifts each day. Treating yourself kindly can help improve your mood or make those hard days easier.

To go along with the tip above, learn how to value yourself and decrease self-criticism. If this is something that is difficult for you to start, try writing down one positive affirmation about yourself per week. An example could be, “I helped comfort a friend or family member,” or “I started a new hobby.” Recognizing your own accomplishments or qualities is important as it nurtures self-love. Check out this article by Medical News Today about why you should practice self-love.

Talk with your friends or family. Socializing with others can help our mental health tremendously. You can even make a pact with those around you to share your positivity jars and daily affirmations. You can check in on one another if you’ve been keeping up with it. Developing habits like these with other people makes them easier to maintain.

Start a journal about how you feel each day and how your day went. Journaling, with either your phone, computer, or a notebook, can help you be present in the moment and with yourself. It gives you time to check in with how you’re doing. You don’t have to write down pages and pages, you can just start with a few sentences. Here’s an article about the benefits of journaling for your mental health. You can also read personal stories about the benefits of journaling from diarists and therapists here.

Go outside for a little bit. It’s helpful to leave the house and get some fresh air. You don’t have to go on a nature hike, but sitting on your porch or deck with a cup of tea and a favorite book, or just watching what goes on outside can help boost your mood.

Start exercising. Exercising can release chemicals like serotonin and endorphins that help improve your mood. You do not have to develop an intense workout regimen immediately. You can start small by taking daily walks for 30-45 minutes and build from there. Hoopla provides Health & Fitness videos to check out too!

Try to keep a regular sleeping schedule—or start one if you haven’t. Having a sporadic sleep schedule can affect how we feel throughout the day. Making sure you keep a regular schedule and get the sleep you need helps improve your mood and lower stress levels. Read an article here by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the importance of keeping to a healthy sleep schedule and includes tips for people who work night shifts.

To help stay on task with developing these healthy habits we recommend making a daily to-do list on your phone that will give you reminders or on a piece of paper posted somewhere you’d see it often. Remember you can start slowly and it’s okay if you skip some of them too. Take your time and be patient with yourself!

Mariah Pugliese is a Reference Librarian at the Kirkwood Public Library. When not at the library, she enjoys reading and writing sci-fi/fantasy and taking care of her 25+ houseplants who are all named after fictional characters in literature.