Those looking to improve their mental health are often advised to use different treatments and medications, but what they can rarely hear is that making certain lifestyle changes can significantly affect their mental health too. According to a study conducted by scientists from the University of Illinois about 50% of people diagnosed with symptoms of some mental illness confirmed that they didn’t receive any wellness tips and advice from their healthcare provider.
These results are shocking because promoting some healthy lifestyle changes like changing your diet or becoming physically active can significantly improve your quality of life. These changes are beneficial for everyone, but they are especially good for people suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia. In addition, by implementing these changes people will also reduce the risk of the development of some other diseases like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes and these diseases are very common in people with mental illnesses.
If you are faced with a mental health issue, make sure to be active when consulting your physician. Ask them about their opinion on the healthy lifestyle changes that can help you with your mental health. Although there is no universal answer to this question, the research confirmed that there are a few types of changes that can help all patients suffering from mental problems as well as people with no such problems. These are the most efficient ones:
How To Boost Your Mental Health
1. Improve your Diet
Numerous studies have shown that our mental health is affected by the food we eat. Vegetables and fruits can serve as mood boosters according to research from the University of Warwick. This is very important because this feeling of happiness, enthusiasm, optimism, and self-esteem can be beneficial not only for your mental health but also for your physical health.
However, fatty foods may worsen mental problems because of their ability to change the useful bacteria that live in our intestines according to another study. This study conducted on mice has confirmed that practicing a diet rich in fat can result in repetitive behavior, brain inflammation, impaired memory, and anxiety. Keep in mind that some fats are considered to be good. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (salmon) for example, are very helpful when it comes to depression.
Another substance that can produce negative effects is sugar. Your diet should include only a small amount of sugar. Sugar can influence your body weight and blood sugar levels, but it can also increase the risk of developing depression and worsen some of the mental health symptoms you are already experiencing. This is something that was confirmed by the National Alliance of Mental Illness.
2. Don’t forget to exercise
It is always a good idea to consult your doctor before getting involved in any type of exercise routine, but the fact is that physical activity provides excellent results for people who are suffering from certain mental health problems. A recent study from Southern Methodist University has compared exercise to a magic medicine for people dealing with depression and anxiety disorders and asked doctors to recommend exercise in these cases.
Their research has confirmed that even limited physical activities like gardening or walking for 30 minutes a day, can protect you from depression. Even patients that were diagnosed with schizophrenia will find exercise to be very helpful and calming. It is worth mentioning that bipolar disorder patients need to be careful because in some cases exercise can lead to mania and that’s why it is best to consult a doctor before getting involved in any physical activity.
In addition, regular exercise can also help people regulate their weight. In case you didn’t know, drugs used by mental illness patients are often causing weight gain.
3. Relaxation techniques to reduce stress
Stress is one of the reasons why mental illnesses occur. Once they occur they are the reason why you feel stressed. This vicious cycle can be broken only if you practice some techniques. For example, a study by Carnegie Mellon University has shown that practicing mindfulness meditation for only 25 minutes per day for three consecutive days can significantly reduce stress. In addition, a Johns Hopkins study confirmed that meditation can eliminate symptoms of depression and anxiety.
One other practice that has proven to be helpful is yoga. This powerful exercise and stress reduction technique brings the first results very fast. In addition, according to a study performed by scientists from Queen’s University, yoga can also promote positive views and thoughts about our lives and the world around us. Once again, bipolar disorder sufferers should consult their physician about the effects of yoga and whether It is safe for them to practice yoga or not.
4. Getting enough sleep is really important
We all want to have a good night’s sleep, but unfortunately, not all of us can get it. One thing that we can all do is develop a sleep routine. In other words, we should try to go to bed and get up at approximately the same time every day. There are a few other things that can help people sleep better – being physically active during the day, skipping heavy dinners (especially very late at night) and being physically active late at night, using certain relaxation techniques, etc. In case you still experience some problems you should not look for medications right away because some studies suggest that these medications come with many side effects. You can ask your doctor or sleep specialist for advice.
You should know that even if you have to make some big changes in your lifestyle just to have a good sleep, these changes are worth it. Bad quality sleep comes with many negative effects like obesity, cell damage, poor diet, and worse mental health. Sleep deprivation for a longer period of time is often associated with schizophrenia. Quality sleep will help people deal with stress much easier and it will also improve their mood and keep the brain functioning normally.
5. Caring and service
Altruism is affection and behavior which is aimed at assisting others in which it is not expected any kind of reward from the others. This type of behavior like voluntary work, for example, can improve your mental well-being. People who help others feel better and useful and this is exactly what many patients with mental issues need.
Via Psychology Today