Five Healthy Habits To Improve Your Mental Health
Let’s face it; we all struggle with our mental health from time to time. Despite how common these experiences may be, many still neglect their mental well-being. We fall prey to harmful patterns of behaviour.
Mental health is as important as physical health, and it doesn’t take much to implement helpful strategies to aid your well-being. You can do several small tasks every day to boost your mood and keep yourself in good mental health.
It all begins with a healthy diet.
Did you know that being more mindful of what you eat can improve your mood? According to Harvard Health, eating food rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes your brain and protects it from oxidative stress.
By switching to healthy food options like fresh products and unprocessed grains, we regulate serotonin levels in our bodies. Serotonin helps regulate things like sleep cycle and mood. Some of the healthy food options include:
- Whole Foods
- Fiber-rich foods
- Antioxidants (like berries, chia seeds, leafy greens and even dark chocolate)
- Vitamin D
Remember! Paying attention to how we feel whenever we eat something is the first step toward making sure that we eat a healthy diet. Many nutritionists also recommend keeping a food journal and noting down what you eat and how you feel after eating to gain more insight into your eating patterns.
A little exercise goes a long way!
We all know about the benefits of exercise for our physical health, but did you know that exercising for as little as 20 minutes can act as an anti-depressant medicine and help treat mild to moderate depression. Exercise helps in releasing endorphins and other powerful chemicals in your brain that instantly lift your spirit and make you feel good about yourself. Not only this, but people who exercise regularly have reported how exercise has helped distract them from negative thoughts and alleviated their sense of control and self-esteem.
Stress and anxiety seem to be a normal part of life in today’s modern world. As a result, stress can cause many adverse effects like headaches, tension, fatigue, anxiety, and even poor sleep. Luckily, practicing meditation, which has been around for centuries, helps greatly. Amongst its numerous benefits, practicing meditation daily allows your brain to achieve sustained focus. So, whenever your brain engages in negative thinking or undesirable emotions like stress and anxiety, it can return to that focus.
Meditation helps produce a deep state of relaxation and a restful mind. Moreover, during meditation, one can quickly eliminate anxiety and stress-related thoughts that may be swarming your mind, thus enhancing your mental and emotional well-being.
Be it mindfulness, yoga or simple breathing exercises, practicing meditation is highly recommended by doctors for sufferers of anxiety disorders. It allows those dealing with mental health issues to focus on the present without letting their worries about the future impede their mood. So take some time every day to clear your mind. This can be early in the morning or before you go to sleep, try and spend just 20 minutes meditating. While doing so, focus on your breathing to relieve the effects of stress and anxiety.
The power of a good night’s sleep
Have you ever noticed how you wake up grumpy and foggy when you haven’t slept well through the night? Lack of sleep, especially deep sleep, can harm your cognitive and mental health. Poor sleep hygiene can significantly impact your mental health. It shouldn’t be taken lightly, from not allowing you to think clearly to keep your emotions at an even keel. Countless studies indicate that lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your relationships, creating problems in your personal and professional life and leading to mood swings and even depression.
The relationship between sleep and mental health is more complex than you think. While some research indicates that lack of sleep results from different psychiatric conditions, other recent views indicate that lack of adequate sleep can trigger different mental health problems.
Try maintaining good sleep hygiene where you sleep at least eight hours a night to avoid this. Make sure you maintain a cool dark environment in your room and cut off all sources of caffeine and screen time at least a few hours before your sleeping time. If you still find it challenging to go to sleep, try increasing your physical activity during the day.
Limiting screen time
According to research conducted by the Nielson Company, an average American spends over 11 hours a day on social media. From Facebook to Twitter, although social media has made communication a lot easier, excess usage can take a toll on one’s mental health. Countless studies have concluded that excessive use of social media directly contributes to depression and anxiety. To help curb the situation, try limiting screen time to no more than four hours a day. Instead of engaging with friends and family virtually, try meeting them over lunch or even for a quick cup of coffee.
While advancements in technology may have improved our standard of living, they have also adversely impacted our mental well-being. Did you know that gadgets like smartphones emitting blue light from their screen can be detrimental to your sleep health? This blue light suppresses melatonin and tricks your brain into believing it’s still daytime, thus disrupting your sleep cycle.
Your mental health is of utmost importance. So try to self-monitor yourself and limit your screen time. Self-Monitoring social media usage isn’t tough. Smartphones have dozens of apps that you can use to track your usage and limit your screen time.
So now that you are aware of the vast benefits of incorporating healthy life habits and how it helps improve your mental well-being, try to identify which one of these habits is already a part of your daily routine. If not, find ways to incorporate these healthy habits for a better and healthier life.