Mental health is vitally important. It influences how you think, feel, and behave in your daily life. It also plays a part in your ability to cope with stress, overcome challenges, build relationships, and recover from setbacks in life. There are many changeable lifestyle factors that influence our mental health. By making a few lifestyle changes you could help to improve your mood, reduce stress, and manage your day-to-day mental health.
We have to work hard to maintain strong mental health because there are so many various ways that life takes a toll on our emotional and mental well-being. But just as physical health requires effort to build and maintain it, so does mental health. Here are 5 simple lifestyle changes that can improve your mental health.
1. Stay Active
The mind and the body are intrinsically linked so if you work on improving your physical health, you will also be boosting your mental well-being. Exercise isn’t always everybody’s idea of a good time, but just 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times a week will provide you with enormous physical and mental health benefits. Try and find ways to include physical activity in your daily life and consider trying out a new sport or activity. Social sports, such as tennis, are a great form of companionship and can make exercising more fun and enjoyable. It can also help motivate you to stick to an exercise routine. So pick up a tennis racquet, or join a sports team to reap many mental and physical health rewards.
2. Improve Your Diet
An unhealthy diet can have a negative impact on your brain and mood. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, mood, and appetite. About 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, so it makes sense that the workings of your digestive system don’t just help digest food, but also guide your mental well-being. Switching to a wholesome diet that is low in sugar and rich in healthy fats will help to improve your energy levels, sleep, and mood. Foods that contain magnesium, folate, zinc, and essential fatty acids are vital for optimal brain functioning. Examples of such foods include leafy green vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains, lean red meat, and seafood. Foods that are high in polyphenols, such as berries, tea, dark chocolate, wine, and certain herbs, also play an important role in brain function.
3. Make Sleep A Priority
When life gets busy, cutting back on sleep may seem like a smart move, but sleep is a necessity for good mental health. Skipping just a few hours every now and again can have a massive toll on your mood, energy, mental sharpness, and ability to handle stress. Long-term chronic sleep loss can wreak havoc on your well-being and health. Take time at the end of the day to unwind without stimulation from screens and work to prepare for sleep. To help set your body’s internal clock and optimize your sleep quality, stick to a regular sleep-wake schedule, even on weekends.
4. Seek Social Connection
We need the company of others to feel and function optimally. Humans are social creatures by nature with emotional needs for relationships and connections to others. Our social brains crave companionship as we are not meant to survive in isolation. Mobile phones and social networks have their place, but nothing beats the stress-reducing, mood-boosting power of positive face-to-face socialising with others. Even interacting face-to-face with acquaintances or strangers can have great benefits. So aim to make eye contact and exchange a smile, a friendly greeting, or small talk with the people you encounter during the day.
5. Spend Time In Nature
Spending time in nature is a great way to improve your well-being and mood. Adequate exposure to sunshine also helps to increase serotonin levels which is important for mood-maintaining and also boosts vitamin D levels which has a positive effect on mental health. A natural extension of spending time in nature is also the positive effect that animals have on our mental health. Owning a pet has many positive effects, and animal-assisted therapy (with horses, cats, dogs, and even dolphins) may also boost feelings of well-being.
We hope these tips help you to implement simple lifestyle changes that will boost your mental health! Positive lifestyle changes aren’t a replacement for medication or psychological therapy though. So if you find you are still not functioning optimally at home, work, or in your relationships, it may be time to seek professional help. Remember – it’s okay to not be okay.
Do you feel ‘off’ and like you’re struggling to stay afloat? Are you concerned about your mental health? Here’s what you need to do: Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.
Evelyn James is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist based in the UK. She is a tea drinker, a Ravenclaw, and loves the outdoors.