Since the rise of the pandemic, there has been a cultural shift in the way we talk about mental health. It’s as if years of isolation and uncertainty have helped us understand how vital our emotional needs were to overall well-being.

Now that we pay more attention to our inner lives, it is also essential to take action. Fortunately, there are several things we can all do to nourish our mental health and find moments of joy.

These are some of our favorite 2023 tips to help us head into the new year.

Experts say getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our mental health. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, studies have found that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, or CBT-I, is as effective in the short term as using sleep medications and more effective in the long term. CBT-I helps people address the anxiety they feel due to sleep and find ways to relax. To find a provider in the United States, visit the Society of Behavioral Sleep Medicine directory.

It is normal to feel anxious from time to time. In fact, having some anxiety can be helpful. Experts say having an internal alarm system can improve our performance, help us recognize dangers, and even encourage us to be more aware. So we asked Petros Levounis, president of the American Psychiatric Association: How much anxiety is too much anxiety?

“If you start to notice that worry and fear are constantly present, it is a sign that you need help,” he said.

Other signs to look out for are restlessness, a feeling of fear or doom, increased heart rate, sweating, tremors, and difficulty concentrating.

If you tend to ruminate, there are some simple ways to control this habit. The first is to distract yourself: Research shows that distractions can help take your mind off what stresses you. Try solving a word game or listening to music, paying close attention to the lyrics.

Other times, it’s best not to fight the urge, but that doesn’t mean you should let your thoughts run wild. Set a timer for 10 to 30 minutes to spend that time ruminating on the thoughts that are troubling you and allowing yourself to turn them over. When the timer goes off, it’s time to move on.

When you’re struggling with mental health issues, basic tasks like doing the dishes or doing laundry can seem impossible. But living in the midst of clutter can make you feel even worse. KC Davis, licensed professional counselor and author of the book How to Keep House While Drowningadvises focusing on functionality over aesthetics: your home doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be livable.

An efficient way to prevent things from getting out of control is to practice a method she calls “the order of 5 things.” Focus on the five main categories of clutter: trash, dishes, dirty clothes, things with a place, and things without a specific place, and tackle one at a time to make cleaning more manageable.

Gratitude is a positive emotion that can arise when you recognize the good things in your life and that other people, or higher powers if you believe in them, have helped you achieve those good things.

To truly reap the benefits of gratitude, experts say, it’s important to express it whenever possible. That may include writing thank you letters or listing the positive things in your life in a journal. Thanking friends, romantic partners, and even coworkers can also improve relationships.

Research shows that your mindset really matters when it comes to health, and can even prolong your life. One well-known study found that people who were optimistic about aging lived seven and a half years longer than those who had negative perceptions about it.

To take a more positive view of aging, pay attention to the benefits of getting older, such as greater well-being or more emotional intelligence. Look for people who handle aging in a way you would like to emulate: older people who stay physically active and engaged in their communities, or those with characteristics you admire.

The idea that art can improve mental well-being is something that many people understand intuitively, but don’t necessarily put into practice.

You don’t need talent to try it, experts say. Writing a poem, singing, or drawing can help improve your mood, no matter how creative you consider yourself. One of the easiest ways to get started is to color something intricate: Spending 20 minutes coloring a mandala (a complex geometric design) is more helpful for reducing anxiety than free coloring for the same period of time, according to research.

Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to connect with the physical world around us. This is where the walk of wonder comes in.

Choose a place to walk (new or familiar) and imagine that you are seeing it for the first time. Then pay attention to your senses. Feel the wind on your face, touch the petals of a flower. Just look at the sky. It can be more restorative than you imagine.

If you have trouble concentrating, you’re not the only one. Research has found that over the past two decades, the amount of time we spend on a given task has dropped to an average of just 47 seconds, compared to two and a half minutes previously. Technology is usually the culprit.

To regain control of your concentration, Larry Rosen, professor emeritus of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills, suggested a strategy called “tech breaks.” Set a timer for 15 minutes, then silence and put your phone aside. When time is up, take a minute or two to check out your favorite apps—that’s your tech break—and get back to work for another 15-minute cycle. The goal is to gradually increase the time between your tech breaks, reaching 45 minutes (or more) away from your phone.

One of the quickest and easiest ways to calm your mind and body is to take slow, deep breaths. Doing so helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which counteracts the “fight or flight” stress response, lowering blood pressure and regulating your heart rate.

A breathing exercise that can be particularly helpful in mitigating fear and anxiety is 4-4-8 breathing, where you inhale for four counts, hold your breath for four counts, and exhale for eight counts.

Christina Caron is a Well reporter covering mental health and the intersection of culture and healthcare. Previously, she was a parenting reporter, general assignment reporter and copy editor at the Times. More from Christina Caron

Dana G. Smith is a journalist for the Well section, where she has written about everything from psychedelic therapy to fitness trends and COVID-19. More by Dana G. Smith