When a person suffers from a mental health illness, such as depression or anxiety, the first-line treatments are usually mental therapies and medicines. What isn't always talked about are the variable lifestyle choices that affect our mental health.
According to Psychology Today, "That’s a lamentable oversight because lifestyle changes—things as simple as nutrition and exercise—can have a significant impact on quality of life, for any of us, but especially for those dealing with issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. They can also help minimize the development of risk factors that can lead to conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, all of which are seen at higher rates in those with mental illness, the study noted."
Making beneficial life choices can be uplifting. While time and financial constraints may restrict a few people's capacities to make such choices, we all can make small but significant changes.
Here Are Five Lifestyle Choices To Get You Started:
1. Make Healthy Diet Choices
According to studies, our diet can impact our mental health, both positively and negatively. According to new research from the University of Warwick, fruits and vegetables are associated with improved mental health.
This is significant because mental well-being—feelings of enthusiasm, joy, self-esteem, and resilience—can help to safeguard not only against mental health issues but also physical illnesses.
2. Cut Back On Your Vices
Managing problem drinking or substance abuse is a no-brainer in terms of both mental and physical health. People with alcohol and drug problems are more likely than the general population to suffer from a mental illness, and their health outcomes are far worse.
According to the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA,
In 2020, 50.0% of people aged 12 or older (or 138.5 million people) used alcohol in the past month (2020 NSDUH)
Among the 138.5 million people who were current alcohol users, 61.6 million people (or 44.4%) were classified as binge drinkers and 17.7 million people (28.8% of current binge drinkers and 12.8% of current alcohol users) were classified as heavy drinkers (2020 NSDUH)
According to the WebMD, side effects of alcohol consumption include:
- Worsening of mental health after the calm feeling fades
- Hangovers including headaches and nausea and vomiting
- Post-alcohol anxiety and/or depression
3. Spend Time In Quiet
We live in a noisy world. When we are outside, we are encircled by cars honking and public noises created by individuals, and the general hustle and bustle of the surroundings. When we are inside all day, such as at a desk, we are encircled by sounds from dialogues, texting, cell phones, office equipment, and so on.
We also have noises from TVs or radios inside our homes. Our phones are always buzzing, with notifications and of course the very loud call of social media.
Getting some quiet private time can do wonders for our mental health. This will result in more focused thoughts throughout the day. You can even try meditation, which promotes mental health.
4. Use Stress Reduction Methods
Mental illness sustains stress, and stress sustains mental illness. Taking measures to reduce stress in your life can help to break this destructive cycle.
According to LifeHack, "There are many forms of stress. People do not even realize they suffer from stress. Still, the buildup of small and regular negative thoughts and energy could negatively impact your mental and even physical health. Stress can cause poor mental health in various disorders such as depression and anxiety, personality changes, bipolar disorder, problem behaviors, cognitive (thinking) problems, etc."
Effective Stress Management Techniques:
- Rest and relaxation
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Deep Breathing
- Eliminating sources of great stress
- Tai Chi
- Spend time doing things that bring you joy
5. Discuss Your Problem With Someone
If you have things or an issue on your mind, getting it off your chest can help you a lot. It is important to remember that desiring assistance implies strength, not weakness. It has been said that an issue that is partially shared is an issue that is half solved.
When you suppress negative or hurtful thoughts, such as frustration, your mental health suffers. You will feel stressed and tense, and you may not get enough sleep at night. These emotions accumulate quickly, resulting in a somewhat desperate state that you cannot resist, such as depression or stomach ulcers.