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What lifestyle habits can improve my mental health?

Thank you for a question that is extremely important, relevant to our times, and vital to the mental and physical health of all human beings. Healthcare professionals understand that the key to good physical and mental health is a lifestyle that is also healthy. It is hard to separate the physical from mental since both play roles in well-being and are very interconnected.

Healthcare professionals understand some basic simple principles for all of us to live by throughout our lives. First, we must eat healthy and include foods that are preservative free with a variety amongst protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber. Secondly, we must all exercise from the time we learn to walk. Exercise does not need to be strenuous in scope. Walking improves cardiovascular health. Then, we must love our sleep and get at least 6 to 8 hours of rest a night. Limit your alcohol intake and don't smoke. All of these recommended tips will improve both your mental and physical healthy. Stay positive, stay happy, and think of each day as one of joy.

Sheri Van Dijk
Psychiatry

We are more aware now than we ever have been of the mind-body connection. How you treat your body affects not only your physical health, but also your mental and emotional health. Here are some changes you can make in your lifestyle to help improve your mental health:

1. Balance your sleep: sleeping too much or too little isn't healthy and makes you more vulnerable to being controlled by your emotions. Work on finding out what your ideal sleep number is, and try to stick to it. Also, it's easier on your body if you go to bed and get up at around the same time every day, even if this means you need to take a short nap during the day (keep this to a maximum of one hour).

2. Eat properly: eating too much or too little also isn't healthy and makes us irritable, decreases our energy and/or causes lethargy. Make sure you don't skip meals, and while you can certainly indulge in your favorite snacks at times, try to eat relatively healthy foods.

3. Eliminate, or at least reduce, mood altering substances. They're called "mood-altering drugs" for a reason - they alter your mood, and you don't have control over how your mood is altered. This includes alcohol, by the way!

4. Take any medication you're prescribed as directed, and take care of any physical illnesses you may have - whether this is high blood pressure, diabetes, or the flu, when we're physically unwell, it's more difficult to manage your emotions.

5. Do one thing every single day that gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. It doesn't matter what the activity is that you do, it's about feeling good about yourself for doing it - whether it's going to the gym or just getting out of bed, you'll feel better about yourself and you'll improve your emotional health by doing so.

Nutrition has a direct impact on feeling mentally positive. Limit your intake of sugar, fat, salt, caffeine and alcohol and help yourself stay mentally fit. Exercise is important, too, and you should check with your doctor about what level is best for you. Even a brisk 15-minute walk, three times a week does wonders for how you think and feel. These good habits with diet and exercise will help you get a good night’s sleep. Not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, but it should be restful sleep. There are many techniques available to help promote relaxation; or, you might want to check with your doctor rather than assuming your restless sleep is simply something you have to live with.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.