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The Mental Health ABC Workout

We all know that we should eat healthily and exercise, but what about our mental health? People often neglect to think about what they can do to stay mentally healthy.

The A - B - C approach to mental health focuses on three straightforward factors that have been found in research to promote mental well-being. They are:

  • A -  Act: Do something to keep active
  • B - Belong: Do something with someone
  • C - Commit: Do something meaningful - for yourself or someone else

ABC mental health workout infographic


Do something to keep you active, alert and engaged. Being active in different ways (including physically, socially, mentally, culturally and spiritually) helps to increase positive emotions, and is a healthier option than worrying, overthinking or engaging in substance use.

For example, you can take a walk, read a book and stop for a chat.


Do something with someone to help build relationships. Being involved with others helps to provide support, coping resources and a sense of identity. It enables people to build stronger relationships with their family, friends and community. The notion of “belong” also taps into the South African concept of Ubuntu, which focuses on the importance of being with and connecting to others as part of being human.To put this into practice, you could join an interest group or club (Wits links), go to community events or find something specific to do with family or friends.


Do something meaningful as part of making your life feel more worthwhile. Commiting to a cause or task helps to give people a sense of meaning and purpose, and also helps individuals to not become too focused on their own problems. You can commit to a cause, volunteer, take up a hobby or engage in a challenge. 

In your day-to-day life, incorporating these three factors into your routine helps you to keep in better mental health shape. This may assist you if you are currently struggling with mental health difficulties, or it may help to prevent problems further down the line.