Simple Lifestyle Choices that Lead to Mental Health Benefits
May 29, 2020
During times of uncertainty and change, it is easy to forget the effects these changes may have on our mental health and well-being. A modified work routine, adapting to different family circumstances, financial uncertainty, and much more can play a role in the way we view the world around us and how we go about our daily activities. “With all of the external and internal stressors we're currently facing, it’s not uncommon to feel less equipped to tackle pressures at work and home. As leaders we need to prioritize self-care because individuals are looking to you as the example of personal and professional life balance. At Nu Skin, we recently mandated our employees an extra day off dedicated to wellness. We need to continue to remove the stigma from mental health issues,” said Jeff Bettinger, SVP at Nu Skin.
There are a variety of factors that can impact our mental health. It’s important that we each recognize and implement some simple lifestyle changes that can help us experience and enjoy better mental health.
Sleep plays a critical role in our physical and mental well-being. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults do not get the recommend amount of sleep each night. We know that sleep is important for memory and cognition, but quality sleep is also vital for our mental health. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can wake up with brain fog feeling tired and groggy. This can make it more difficult for us to concentrate on our daily tasks and to remember everything we are supposed to be doing that day. A lack of sleep can also lead to feelings of anxiety and stress, which can in turn lead to more anxiety and poor sleep quality, creating a vicious cycle of poor sleep and anxiety. When prolonged, this cycle can negatively affect our mental health and potentially create additional mental health issues.
There are a few simple lifestyle choices you can adjust to support good sleep habits. Having a nightly bedtime routine, restricting caffeine before bed, turning off your screens, and getting regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and overall mental focus and well-being. We offer a fantastic product to support a good night’s sleep called Nighttime Formula that might be worth a try if you are looking for additional sleep support. For more tips on how to improve sleep quality check out a previous article posted on The Source.
Physical activity is important for both a professional athlete and the average person. There are many benefits that come from doing appropriate physical activity, including improved endurance, stress relief, increased stamina, and weight management. In addition, there are also important brain health benefits. Studies have shown that regular exercise plays a role in helping reduce tiredness which increases mental alertness. Exercise also helps to improve our mood thanks to certain endorphins or “feel good” hormones our bodies naturally produce during exercise.
Globally, 1 in 4 adults and over 80 percent of adolescent children do not get enough exercise. The recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes of moderate intensity every week, which is less than 30 minutes a day. Activities like going for a walk, hiking, biking, or participating in an online exercise program can all be fantastic ways to get the daily amount of recommended exercise. Remember, even if you’re unable to reach the recommended amount of exercise, any kind of activity is better than no activity, so start small and work your way up!
Eating the proper foods our bodies require to function most effectively is extremely important. However, this is one area that many, no matter where you may live, tend to struggle with. Poor diet is well known for its consequences of obesity and cardiovascular disease, but what most of us don’t realize is the negative (or positive) effect our food choices can have on our mood and mental health.
There is a growing body of research focused on the effects our diet has on our mental health. Nutrients such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA have been shown to have positive effects on our mood, mental health, and overall cognitive health. Making dietary changes can be difficult, but starting with small changes can lead to a successful outcome. If you don’t get enough of these nutrients from diet alone, quality supplements like ageLOC Youth (which contains omega 3’s and vitamin D) are a great option. Some tips to get you on track to a healthy diet include limiting the amount of nutrient-poor-calories you get from snack/junk food, decreasing your soda intake, increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, and ensuring you get enough lean protein at each meal to help support lean muscle.
Managing stress is a critical part of maintaining good mental health. Stress can originate from many different sources and can either be acute or chronic. Acute stress, from events such as giving a presentation at work, taking a school test, or getting into an argument, are stressors that come and go quickly, initiating our fight or flight response. Chronic stress on the other hand, is when stressors in our life persist for longer periods of time. This chronic form of stress can result from job loss, family troubles, health issues, and many other life-altering events. With chronic stress, our body is constantly in a heightened state that makes it difficult to relax and return to normal levels of stress. This constant state of stress can impact our body’s immune system, quality of sleep, and mental focus and health.
There are a few practices you can implement to help manage the stress we encounter every day. Things such as meditation, physical activity, journal writing, and yoga can all have positive impacts on how we manage stress and can benefit our mental well-being. Cortitrol is a great product to help manage cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Everyone handles stress differently, so it’s important to understand what works best for you personally and what has the greatest impact on your day-to-day health and well-being.
Do something you enjoy
Taking time out of the day to do something that you enjoy is another way to improve mental and emotional health. Being able to disconnect from devices and get away to enjoy things like reading a book, going for a walk with a loved one, or playing with a pet gives us a chance to reset and refocus our brains every day. We often get so focused on the day’s activities and “to do lists” that we don’t stop to smell the roses, whether that be figuratively or literally. We must allow ourselves time to stop for a moment and breathe. Find something simple yet meaningful that can allow you to take a deep breath and smile. If we don’t take the time to care for ourselves, we may risk becoming more stressed. As we have already learned, this increase in stress and anxiety can lead to worsened mental well-being.
Care for others
Doing a nice deed for your neighbors or loved ones is something that can give you a sense of purpose and meaning. Staying socially connected has the potentials to lessen anxiety and contribute to psychological well-being. Staying socially connected is especially important when we feel like we are isolated from others. Look for ways, big or small, to make a difference in the lives of others. There are many ways to get involved in your local community. Try a quick internet search for volunteer opportunities and choose one that seems like a good fit. Offer to get groceries for a neighbor or help teach someone a skill online. Get creative and have fun with it!
Above are a few small things that we can focus on to improve our mental health. As we become more aware of the different factors in our lives that affect our mental well-being, we are better able to manage the stress that life tends to throw at us. Mental well-being is something very personal and varies greatly from person to person. Let’s try to be sensitive to those around us and reach out with ideas on how to cope with the changes in their life.