5 lifestyle changes that will improve your mood and mental well-being

First-line treatment for a mental disorder like depression or anxiety is usually medication and psychological therapies. The lifestyle changes that can affect our mental health are not often discussed.

Even those without a mental illness may be interested in improving their mood, reducing stress, and managing their mental health every day.

Positive life changes can be very motivating. Although financial and time constraints may limit some people’s ability to make these changes, everyone has the power to make small but meaningful changes.

Get healthy and move more

Whole foods like leafy green veggies, legumes and whole grains provide essential nutrients for optimal brain function. These foods are rich in magnesium, folate and zinc, and essential fatty acids.

Poly phenol-rich foods, such as tea, dark chocolate, wine, and some herbs, play an important role in brain function.

Many types of exercise are possible, including swimming, jogging and lifting weights. Even a simple walk or active housework can be a positive thing.

Activities involving social interaction and exposure to the natural world can improve mental well-being.

The Guidelines for exercise recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day (around 150 minutes in total). Even a brief bout of activity can elevate your mood.

Reduce your vices

It is a good health tip to manage drinking and substance misuse problems. People who abuse alcohol or drugs have a higher likelihood of developing a mental illness than the average person and are more likely to have poorer health outcomes.

Some studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake (particularly wine) can help prevent depression. Recent data has shown that light alcohol consumption doesn’t positively affect brain function.

It is important to stop smoking. Nicotine-addicted individuals are always at the mercy of a withdrawal-craving cycle that profoundly affects their mood. Although it may take some time to treat the initial withdrawal symptoms, the brain will eventually adapt.

Quitting smoking is linked to better mood and lower anxiety.

Prioritize rest and sleep

These sleep hygiene techniques are designed to improve sleep quality and treat insomnia. These include adjusting caffeine intake, limiting your exposure to the bed (regulating the time you sleep and having a shorter sleep time), and making sure that you wake up at the same time each morning.

Some people are wired to be more morning- or evening-oriented, so we must have some flexibility with our work schedules.

It would help if you did not force yourself to sleep. If you cannot fall asleep in 20 minutes, you may need to get up and do something else until you feel tired.

Another key to better sleep is to reduce your exposure to light, especially from smartphones and laptops. This will increase your secretion of melanin which aids you in falling asleep.

Having enough time to relax and engage in leisure activities is essential for managing stress. Being involved in hobbies can help improve mental health, especially if you are doing physical activity.

Take a little bit of nature with you

Many people feel happier when the sun shines. Sunlight can help increase levels of the mood-maintaining chemical serotonin. It also increases vitamin D levels and helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles.

Sun exposure has many benefits, but they must be balanced against the potential for skin cancer. Take into consideration the guidelines for sun exposure based on your skin color and the time of year.

It might be worth considering reducing your exposure to chemicals, pollutants and environmental toxins.

Spending time in nature can be a great antidote. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can increase self-esteem and improve mood. In certain parts of Asia, forest bathing is considered mental health.

Spending time with flora can be extended naturally. This is in addition to the positive effects that animals have on us. Studies show that having a pet can have many positive effects. Animal-assisted therapy with horses, dogs, cats and even dolphins may also increase feelings of well-being.

Reach out if you have any questions

Positive lifestyle changes don’t replace medication or psychological therapy but are something that people can do independently.

Although many lifestyle changes are positive, others (such as quitting smoking and avoiding junk food and alcohol) can prove difficult if used as a psychological crutch. These changes may need to be managed delicately and supported by professionals.

If you don’t follow the strict advice for abstinence or have a strict diet or exercise program, it can cause additional suffering and possibly lead to guilt. Be gentle with yourself.

Take a moment to think about how you feel after eating a healthy, wholefood meal, getting a good night’s sleep, or walking with a friend in the great outdoors. `

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