Daily habits and social circles directly affect mental well-being, and a healthy lifestyle is essential for feeling stable and happy. If you're regularly irritable, anxious, or depressed, try making one or a few of the following changes in your life to improve your outlook.
There's something to the saying "you are what you eat." Diet is directly connected to physical health, but it also impacts moods and thoughts. Processed sugar, the kind that does not come from fruit, is a usual suspect in an unhealthy diet. Well+Good describes how sugar increases levels of stress hormones and inflammation, leading to depression and anxiety. Begin feeling better by cutting out foods high in refined sugar, like soda, and processed carbohydrates. Also, consult a doctor about dietary intolerances. Eating healthier is a step toward feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Physical activity is therapeutic. Walking, running, yoga, and dancing are just a few exercises that can help you feel better. Studies have shown that even moderate, regular exercise (up to half an hour, three days a week) can improve mood and stress levels. How does this work? Exercise releases endorphins, which are proven to weaken the effects of anxiety and depression. Momentum built from exercise, especially in the morning, also helps the body remain energized throughout the day. Sure, starting may feel hard, but fitting in time can be as easy as walking your dog for ten more minutes. Find pockets of time that work best for you, stick to a routine, and keep a log that tracks how you feel after exercising. Even a short workout can immediately improve your mood.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep truly is an underrated commodity. Often called "beauty sleep," a regular 7 to 8 hours each night leaves skin looking radiant and reduces wrinkles. Essentia points out that sleep is also the time when the body regenerates cells and repairs tissue damage. The amount of sleep you need varies by age and lifestyle, but adults usually benefit from 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Not only will a great night of rest give you the physical energy required to get through your day, but it will help improve your mood too.
Spend Some Time Outside
LittleThings explains how fresh air and vitamin D are just two main reasons to head outside. The latter also helps the brain produce serotonin, otherwise known as the "feel-good" chemical. Spending time connecting with nature, an activity called grounding restores mental energy, and time outside reduces the risk of myopia (nearsightedness). Simply put, being trapped indoors for long periods isn't healthy. Unfortunately, between home and work routines, it's easy to do. Try to get out more by going on a walk during lunch breaks or a hike on the weekends. Find a cozy spot where you can read at a park or sit on the beach. Even spending time sitting on your porch can help.
By nature, humans are social creatures. But finding time to socialize requires work, especially after graduation. In general, most people will feel lonely at one point or another. This can be remedied by spending time with loving friends and family. Connections with role models are also a great way to reboot your brain and feel positive. Collaborate with coworkers on a project. Join a gym. It's easy to feel cut off from the world when returning from a busy day to an empty house. After a while, you may even feel hesitant to reach out to others. Remember that even a phone call can help reduce your isolation.
Reduce Alcohol or Other Drug Consumption
On occasion, a glass of wine with dinner or a beer can reduce tension. The key is moderation. But sometimes, even one glass may lead to issues. Alcohol is a depressant, and risky drinking habits may lead to dependency, depression, and anger. Alcohol abuse can also cause rifts in personal relationships, putting social life at risk. Cutting back can help you feel better about yourself and give your mental health a boost.
Avoiding technology isn't easy. It is important when looking to reduce stress. Turn off social media during meals and before bedtime. Replace television with reading and opt for a walk instead of scrolling through your timelines. You may even consider casually forgetting your computer and tablet while packing for a vacation. Do you have multiple social media accounts? Cut back by one or more to reduce the time spent on your phone. Remember, however, that socializing boosts mental wellbeing. Perhaps consider keeping the more popular apps directly related to communication. Podium states that over 126 million people in the U.S. use Facebook Messenger on their phone.
Self-care includes treating yourself to something special. Give in to a craving, whether it's an ice cream cone or a morning at the spa. Pampering combats deprivation, a feeling that something is missing. Set aside time, even an hour a week, to show yourself that you're important. Buy the plane ticket. Pick a floral bouquet for your home. Try a DIY facial. Putting yourself first, even periodically, reduces stress and rewires your brain.
A few small changes in your life will go a long way to boost your mental health today. One or two big changes will make all the difference between chronic stress and peace. Can you start working on any of these tips now? Think about other ways that you can cut out stress in your own life.
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