5 Lifestyle Changes for Enhanced Mental Health

Judith Thomas  |  May 26, 2016
5 Lifestyle Changes for Enhanced Mental Health

Your mental and physical health are directly related to one another. However, because physical health is harder to ignore than mental well-being, people are more likely to prioritise their physical health. Mental Health Week, being held this year from 16th-22nd May, is the perfect time to consider implementing some lifestyle changes.

1. Improve your diet
According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health and good nutrition are directly related and many of the prevalent mental health conditions are triggered by dietary factors. The Foundation also says that almost two-thirds of people who don't report mental health issues eat fresh fruit or fruit juice on a daily basis, while less than 50 per cent of those who do experience mental health problems eat fruit. The results are similar for vegetables.

Your diet should include sufficient servings of amino acids, minerals, vitamins, complex carbohydrates, essential fats and water. These dietary components will make it easier for you to balance your moods and emotions. 

2. Incorporate exercise into your regular routine
The NHS says that physical activity can have significant effects on mental health. It can even help people who are already depressed or stressed. Many researchers believe that this is the case because exercise increases self-esteem, motivation, self-control and promotes goal setting. If you don't want to spend time at the gym, this isn't the only way to get in regular physical activity. You can cycle, walk, swim or try any activity that you enjoy for the recommended 150 minutes per week to reap the benefits of exercise. Consider taking advantage of the social aspect of exercise by inviting friends or loved ones to join you or by joining an exercise class.

Many people prefer to participate in exercise classes to make working out more appealing.Many people prefer to participate in exercise classes to make exercise more appealing.

3. Prioritise sleep
While it's not always possible to sleep for a full eight hours due to factors like stress or responsibilities that keep you up late or require you to rise early, doing your best to get a good night's rest as often as possible is fundamental to your mental and physical health. To help, avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals before bed. It's also best to exercise during the day instead of close to your bedtime. Evidence shows that putting electronic devices away before going to bed is another way to enhance sleep quality. If you're experiencing trouble falling asleep, try practising relaxation techniques that make it easier to drift off if you're feeling anxious or stressed.

"You may receive valuable input from others on ways to cope."

4. Surround yourself with people you trust and love
When you have a solid support system available when you're stressed or sad, you're more likely to talk about your emotions instead of bottling them up and dealing with them in unhealthy ways. You may receive valuable input from others on ways to cope with difficult situations instead of feeling like you're on your own.

If the thought of setting aside a specific time to sit down and discuss your feelings with your friends or family makes you uncomfortable, let the conversation come up naturally when the time is right, such as when you're on a walk together. 

5. Practise relaxation techniques
When you have a lot going on in your life, it can be challenging to relax and see certain situations from a different perspective. Sometimes seeing the larger picture is key to feeling more in control, happy and at peace during high-anxiety situations. Mindfulness meditation is one way to regain calm when stress begins to take a toll on your daily life. America's Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, conducted a study that showed as little as 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation for three days can lower stress levels and build resilience. 

At Gracewell care homes, our dedicated staff organise regular activities that residents can choose from on a daily basis to ensure they're socially and physically active. Our professional chefs also prepare a tasty and nutritious menu so residents can easily maintain a healthy diet. To learn more about how we can help, or to find a location near you, contact us today.