Small Tips to Help With Your Mental Health in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
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Small Tips to Help With Your Mental Health in Japan

By Aimee Morales Apr 19, 2024

Living abroad can seem like a dream, having your own space, a chance to start over, and new experiences. But when you uproot from your foundation and begin day-to-day life, it can get lonely sometimes. Maintaining good mental health is a huge part of living overseas, from taking small walks outside to enjoying your favorite food. It’s important to remember the small things that make you happy. Here are a few tips I and others have followed to maintain a happy and healthy mind.

Improving Your Mental Health: Starting Small

Mental health board with sentence that says take a small step every day

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As someone who’s felt overwhelmed by a feeling of stagnancy, I constantly remind myself of the small accomplishments I have taken. It’s essential not to compare your life path with others; instead, reflect on how much you have done to get to where you are now. It may take a bit to change your mindset, but we have to believe it can be accomplished by taking it a step at a time. Here are a few tips that have helped others and myself.

Waking up and NOT Checking Your Phone

It is tough not to go to your phone once you wake up immediately. For starters, it serves as an alarm clock for many (like myself), making it hard to ignore notifications we see. But what I found helpful was turning the alarm off and immediately opening my shades or getting up (although the latter is difficult to do sometimes). 

Find what works for you, like moving your phone away from your bedside so that it encourages you to get up and turn it off. Making your bed as soon as you get out of it also helps tell your body that you’re ready to take on the day! Take a few moments away from your screen in the morning, start small, spend at least 5 minutes, and build up the time. 


Meditation is often perceived as sitting in a room and concentrating without distractions. While that is one type of meditation, it does not necessarily mean you need to be in a designated room. Meditation can happen after waking up or at the end of your day. It can be for just 5 minutes or take up to an hour. 

Depending on your preference, you can try different parts that make up meditation, such as relaxed breathing, opening your mind to incoming thoughts, and focusing your attention inwards. 

Choosing how you’d like to meditate makes it easy to incorporate into your daily life. You can designate a time of day to practice meditating in a space where you feel safe. 

Visiting Cat Cafes 

Cat cafes have been found to help mental health. Of course, we have to do our research on ethical cate cafes to visit to ensure that our furry friends are being treated fairly. Research has found that interacting with animals helps reduce stress, and promotes the production of oxytocin (the happy chemical) and serotonin. If you are allergic, perhaps a great alternative would be dog cafes

Whichever furry friend you lean towards, they are a great company to have when you need it the most. As someone who’s gone to a few ethical pet cafes, I can say that I have left feeling happier and more relaxed than when I entered. Living in Tokyo, it is a bit difficult to have your pet especially when apartments hold strict rules and the space is limited for them.

Drinking Tea

Tea is a helpful way to kick-start your journey towards good mental health. Various teas provide different benefits. Green tea is said to help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Drinking chamomile before bed helps regulate sleep which is a crucial factor in maintaining your mental health. There are several options of teas to choose from, so there is no need to worry about limited choices! 

If you’re a coffee drinker (like myself) or someone who simply doesn’t drink tea, maybe experimenting with different teas will help with incorporating them into your daily routine. You can even add some honey into the mix! Not only does it add some sweetness to your tea, honey is said to contain properties that are antidepressant, and anti-anxiety and help prevent memory disorders.

Ashiyu – Foot Onsen

person's feet in Ashiyu or foot onsen outside

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The beauty of foot onsen is that they are easily found scattered around Japan. Some are even free to use. You can also find a few foot onsen cafes in Tokyo that have a relaxing atmosphere. Foot onsen are proven to reduce stress, lower your heartbeat, release tension in your legs and feet, and detoxify. They’re a great way to get into a better headspace and decompress from a busy day. I still remember the time I visited Hakone. As I was walking, I found a foot onsen and decided to use it. As I dipped my feet inside, I instantly felt relaxed. I think I spent a fair amount of time there, and it wasn’t long before an office lady joined me. It was a relaxing moment for both of us as we sat in silence, admiring the sounds of nature. 

The Importance of Mental Health

Our busy schedules are often packed with deadlines, whether that be a project, homework, or presentation. It’s important to find even the smallest time to care for ourselves and most importantly our mental health. 

Whether you follow these tips or have some of your own, I think taking small steps to improve your overall health is important in living a happy healthy life.

*Disclaimer: Readers are encouraged to consult with qualified mental health professionals or medical professionals regarding any concerns or issues they may have regarding their mental health. The author and publisher disclaim any liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of the information provided in this article. Any actions taken based on the contents of this article are at the sole discretion and responsibility of the reader.

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